Charting the Course from Dolphins & Diabetes to Press Liberty

Ariel Freaner of Freaner Creative & Design showcases his exceptional talent from Poster 2024 with two distinct works: one for the National Marine Mammal Foundation (above, left) visually fuses dolphins with the science of diabetes research, and an origami-themed design for Tijuana’s ZETA Weekly (above, right) that captures the newspaper’s spirit of freedom and resilience. These pieces significantly elevated the clients’ brand profiles, demonstrating Freaner’s ability to communicate complex messages through powerful visual storytelling.

By: Ariel Freaner

The non-profit National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF) has a mission to protect the health and welfare of marine mammals and humans through research, conservation, and education.

Back in 2010, NMMF scientists made a breakthrough discovery that bottlenose dolphins appear to have a genetic ‘switch’ that can turn both type 1 and type 2 diabetes-like states on and off. This is hugely important given that more than 26 million people in the United States have diabetes and it’s estimated that 450 million people around the world will have the condition by 2030. NMMF is working with leading scientists, including those at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies. to better understand dolphin metabolism and how this switch may help cure diabetes.

The NMMF hired Freaner Creative & Design to design a poster for a conference event about the Dolphins and Diabetes research project. The concept was to create and develop a poster that merged inspiration with science to appeal to the NMMF’s fellow scientific communities and invite researchers to the conference. The poster was also to be handed out as an attendee gift at the conference.

Designer and illustrator Ariel Freaner naturally looked for inspiration from dolphin behavior in the ocean. The result is a compelling image of a dolphin dramatically rising up from the waters. Below the dolphin is a spiral representing a combination of DNA strains, molecules, and other elements intrinsic to dolphins but that also represent that genetic switch that could help fight diabetes.

“I wanted to use a powerful vision of a dolphin in an energetic rise from the ocean to the sky, emitting all the possible elements for life,” said Ariel. “The dolphin confidently leaping from the water is a sign of success.”

“The poster increased both attendance and brand awareness, so much so that NMMF has used the design in other materials. Freaner Design and Creative is proud to have been a part of a meaningful research endeavor that has the potential to impact the lives of millions of people around the world. I thank Steve Walker, NMMF’s former director of communications, as well as the organization’s president and CEO Cynthia R. Smith, and Mark Marchesano, NMMF’s chief financial officer. They were a wonderful, supportive team to work with.”

ZETA Weekly is a Tijuana-based newspaper founded in 1980 by Jesús Blancornelas. It prides itself on being a free, independent source of journalism in Mexico, including the dangerous work of reporting on government corruption, social injustice, and cartel activity. These brave acts have often resulted in threats and attacks against its staff, including the murders of one co-director and several reporters, as well as the shooting and wounding of Blancornelas.

To promote ZETA’s print edition, we used their slogan, “Libre Como El Viento” or “Free as the Wind,” to create two printed lithographs featuring two spirited images of ZETA covers folded into origami—one a butterfly, the other a bird. Look closely, and you’ll see photos of Blancornelas in each. Along the top, we created a sequence of images of the origami being folded. Together, they symbolize the complexity and skill of ZETA’s reporting and give movement to the design. The 24-inch-square lithographs gifted to subscribers helped ZETA increase its brand positioning, subscription rate, and print sales.

Ariel Freaner is the principal and founder of Freaner Creative & Design. He has over 35 years of experience in creative development, illustration, and design. Freaner Creative & Design, founded in 1985, is an award-winning San Diego-based full-service firm offering creative, digital, and graphic design services, including web and app design, editorial and print design, branding, and 3-D development, among many other services. Freaner Creative & Design’s multilingual, cross-border commercial campaigns in English and Spanish have distinguished it from many Southern California firms. It works with a diverse spectrum of clients in North America, Latin America, and abroad, earning it multiple awards and numerous international and industry awards from multiple prestigious organizations, including Graphis, the IDA International Design Awards, AIGA American Institute of Graphic Arts, the SND Society of News Design, and PRINT magazine. Recently, Ariel received five Emmy Awards for art direction, visual effects, and sound design.

Among the US clients for which Ariel has produced creative and design projects are the County of San Diego, the City of San Diego, Motorola, the U.S. Navy, Fujitsu, Eclipse Mobile Entertainment, Clarion Mobile Entertainment, Laura Scudder, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Todd Gloria’s successful San Diego mayoral campaign. Ariel’s international clients range from Fujitsu Latin America, Clarion Latin America, Uniradio, Calimax to Palacio de Hierro, The XXI Ayuntamiento, Lintel, Las Colinas Industrial Park, Zeta Weekly, and TBWA Mexico, among many others. A dedicated mentor to design students, Ariel has served for more than 35 years as a career advisor in numerous educational organizations, including the Art Institute of San Diego, Cuyamaca College, San Diego City College, the San Diego City School District, and ITESO in Guadalajara Mexico. He has also participated in multiple congresses and design expositions throughout Mexico for both students and commercial clients.

Ariel has also served as a career advisor in many educational organizations, including the Art Institute of San Diego, Cuyamaca College, San Diego City College, the San Diego City School District, and ITESO in Guadalajara, Mexico, as well as multiple congresses and design expositions throughout Mexico.

Social: Instagram, X, Facebook

Discover more award-winning Poster 2024 entries here. And don’t forget to enter our Poster 2025 competition!

Author: Graphis