The 401(k) Fee Revolution: Fortune


fortune magazine
art director.

chad mccabe
design & illustration.

alex varanese

The first rule of illustrating an article about 401(k) fees is, of course, restraint—push that kind of white-knuckle, high-octane excitement too far and you run the risk of totally burning out the reader’s dopamine receptors. It was with such concerns in mind that I set about illustrating Fortune’s July 2012 article, “The 401(k) Fee Revolution”, in a straightforward but compelling manner.

The creative brief, refreshingly, was focused entirely on the type—Fortune didn’t really want anything other than the numbers and letters themselves—and that prompted me to think about different modes of conveying alphanumeric digits, finally settling on the timeless style of split-flap displays, most commonly associated with train station schedules.

I was pulling for the black variant for maximum authenticity, only including the vivid red-orange as a backup option. The client, however, surprised me by immediately going for the latter. Never one to turn down a retina-blasting overdose of my favorite color, of course, I happily obliged.

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