Testimonials

I have had the pleasure of working with Sharis for many years at the Toronto Star in the design department. Sharis came to the Star during her last year of school and very quickly established herself as highly professional, a very hard worker not afraid of putting in the hours when required, and showed confidence & originality in her work, well beyond her years.
Throughout the past 7 years of working with Sharis, I have watched as she has taken on more and more demanding projects requiring deft personal skills and negotiations with editors and other strong personalities. The projects always ended with the vision she originally put forth to her team members.
In addition to her many international and national design awards in print, Sharis has proven herself to be as equally comfortable designing interactive graphics for online use, often having to distill huge amounts of raw data into a user-friendly interactive experience for the reader.
One memorable day, when the Toronto Star's main computer system experienced a catastrophic failure and put the paper at risk of not being printed, Sharis single-handedly took control of the design production of Canada's largest newspaper by calmly assigning jobs to her other more senior colleagues while quickly converting the complicated main-frame page layouts into InDesign templates. Added to that, she also instructed others not familiar with InDesign (myself included) on how to use the templates and get the pages to the Star's Vaughan Press Centre.
Sharis has been someone I myself have learned from and someone with whom I can often discuss our designs thus creating even better work. Anyone or any organization having the opportunity to work with Sharis and to hire her will be richly rewarded. She is one who quickly assimilates and almost instantly becomes a valued contributing member of a creative team.

Spencer Wynn, Deputy Art Director, Toronto Star

A newsroom isn't always conducive to smooth interpersonal relations: nerves are often frayed; tensions are often on the near boil. One of the many much-admired attributes that Sharis brings to her work is her calm and dogged professionalism, which is easier to pull off when you're not working at an A+ professional level. Sharis is always fuelled by her A+ creative drive. Imaginative. Diligent. Kind. I worked with Sharis in both print and online formats and was especially struck by her ability to transfer seamlessly between the two, including an online project on the arrival of spring that emerged like online poetry in Sharis's hands. In my 30-plus years in this industry, I can say that Sharis is exceptionally rare among her peers. Those who get to work with her in the future can count themselves as the lucky ones.
Jennifer Wells, Feature Writer, The Toronto Star

I have had the delightful privilege of working with Sharis on dozens of projects at the Toronto Star. She brought grace and creativity - to say nothing of charm and humour - to large-format centrespreads in the weekend news and Insight sections. Her covers for Insight were models of elegance and verve. She has that most desirable of traits for designers - the ability to take a quarter-baked idea (often little more than a notion) and flesh it out and elevate it all the while making others feel like the original notion has not been lost. She is a treasure.
Glen Colbourn, World Editor, Toronto Star

I had the privilege of working directly with Sharis Shahmiryan during the years I was a travel writer and associate Travel editor at the Toronto Star, responsible for helping create two sections a week.
From the minute she was hired as an intern, it was clear that Sharis had great enthusiasm for her craft, a dedication to superb design and a breadth of talent far beyond her years. She brought all of that, and more, to section-front designs that ranged from whimsical to breathtaking and were key to making Travel a sure stop for readers on Thursdays and Saturdays.
I was always impressed by Sharis' ability to bring a story and a travel destination to life. Many of her covers remain among my most treasured keepsakes, whether they featured her own clever artwork, creative use of font or, quite simply, summed up the place at a glance, sometimes better than the writer's inches of prose.
Sharis always brings an extraordinary calm and quiet confidence to everything she touches. You can't help but feel that you are in the best hands possible and that some delightful surprise will emerge at the end, no matter how complicated or imperfectly thought out the project.
Sharis' departure from the Star is an enormous loss to writers, editors and, most importantly, readers.

Sue Pigg, Business Reporter, Toronto Star

Collaborative. Creative. Clever. An original.
These are just a few words you could use to describe the person before you.
I had the pleasure of working with Sharis for the past five years as both production editor of the Toronto Star page desk and as its Insight editor.
It is in the latter role that I had a close working relationship with Sharis in producing two Insight sections each week. We would also produce one-off sections like the Royals preview and Wedding sections, which I was lucky to garner an "editor" SND shout out on the coattails of Sharis' beautiful work.
We'd spend many hours noodling around ideas, and as a designer at heart, these were most enjoyable times. But in the end, it was Sharis who pulled together the disparate threads of the sections into the beautiful tapestries they often were.
Sharis has the ability to take simple words, pictures and graphic devices and wave her magic wand over them creating something far greater than their parts. Often, the results would have me saying, "brilliant!" for her going in a direction I hadn't even thought of.
By now you've seen her portfolio and read the long list of industry kudos she's earned in her short career - enough said.
But beyond her natural artistic talents Sharis was a delight to work with. She is a designer's designer, the one others would turn to for ideas and techniques which she gladly shared. Just two more words: Hire her. You won't regret it.

Tim Fryer, Production Editor Toronto Star

Sharis' elegant and innovative design work on a number of ground-breaking investigative Toronto Star series - including looks at police bias, harmful school suspension policies and crime and punishment policy in Canada - resulted in informative and unforgettable online interactives and a look in print and on the web that enhanced the Star's journalism brand. Sharis is also always looking for new design challenges. For example, handed a bunch of dry statistics on who police stop and document, Sharis brought numbers to life in an award-wining animated info-graphic movie. She has indeed caught the eye of judges, winning many design awards, and was a prized team member on each and every one of the series that I had the pleasure of working with her on. She's a great team player, with great talent.
Jim Rankin, journalist, Toronto Star

To collaborate with Sharis is to join in a creative cooperative collective or team that is as much contemporary as it is graceful and enjoyable.
With a gentle hand and a pleasant manner Sharis has designed countless projects for me over the years with a visual sophistication that I had not yet seen in the industry. Her lovely demeanor and her professional approach to lengthy projects shaped an environment for design without compromise, free from bureaucratic meddling and second-guessing. Her voice and her style were highly respected throughout her tenure at The Star.
My confidence in her visual aesthetic was established early on. In the first few months of her arrival at The Star, Sharis became my go to designer, my editor and the constant that kept the presentation of my work coherent, recognizable and prized.
Until such time as Sharis can present my work it may suffer and only attempt to be displayed like it was at the hand of a great designer.
I expect big things from her.

Lucas Oleniuk Toronto Star Staff Photographer

Over the past seven years, I have had the privilege to collaborate with Sharis Shahmiryan on several award winning section fronts for the Toronto Star newspaper. Her intelligence and creativity in building challenging pages that incorporate various editorial elements and advertisements into a cohesive whole is just one of her strengths. Sharis is equally eager in bringing her unique vision to our online content - from inception to conclusion, she makes her presence felt.
I especially like Sharis' tact in dealing with various people involved in a project. You can rest assured the job will go that much smoother with her guidance. From personal experience, I always felt my illustrations shined brightest when Sharis was the one designing the page it was featured on.

Raffi Anderian, Illustrator, Toronto Star

Since I left Maclean's magazine, where I was an assistant managing editor, and came to the Star to be a features editor seven years ago, I have worked often with Sharis Shahmiryan, often on some very complex and difficult projects.
I cannot be too effusive about Sharis, who embodies a rare mix of qualities: the ability to work very hard and come up with brilliant solutions to problems, an amazing design sense, unflappability, and a lovely, kind personality.
Sharis and I worked together closely on the "Shelagh Project," which in the newspaper and online consisted of an intimate look at how a modest woman who had just died affected others in her lifetime. Sharis went above and beyond the call of duty on the project, which included an interactive online graphic through which readers could click on the face of a person in a photograph of everyone who attended the funeral and then read what that person had to say about Shelagh. I was responsible for the 130 testimonials from these mourners, and I can honestly say that I would not have been able to successfully create this feature with Sharis's collaboration, skills, cool-headedness and smart solutions to difficulties. On other projects, Sharis proved her uncommon flair for design and graphics. The woman has a great eye.
I will miss her terribly at the Star, and envy the company that hires her.

Patricia Hluchy, Editor, Star Dispatches (ebooks), Toronto Star

There's a story that goes around the newsroom at the Toronto Star about the day Sharis Shahmiryan saved the paper. It's true. She used some magic and ingenuity when the paper's internal computer writing/editing system crashed and because of her, the paper could get out that night. Her skill, hands on work ethic has become legendary in the newsroom of Canada's largest paper.
It is a joy to work with Sharis. She is unflappable, sweet natured and makes every task seem easy and doable.
Her design sense is fresh and progressive. She developed a logo for a series we worked on called the Secret Life of Girls. It was effervescent, a perfect symbol of what girls are. It grieves me to write a letter of recommendation for Sharis, because more than anything I wish she could stay here at the Star.
But any company fortunate enough to hire her will have a designer of immense capability and compatibility.

Leslie Scrivener, Feature Writer, Toronto Star

The young designer is full of creative ideas, energy, enthusiasm - and tons of talent.
I worked with Sharis on a feature project memorializing an ordinary woman who died suddenly in her early 50s. With permission from the deceased's family, a team of reporters, videographers, photographers and Sharis as our designer descended on the funeral service. The Star had a lot at stake committing so many people to one project - that's risky - and it speaks volumes that Sharis was chosen as the designer.
We interviewed the 135 attendees either at the site or later on the phone. The idea was to paint a picture of a person's life through the eyes of all friends and acquaintances in attendance. It was a highly unusual - and time-consuming - project that met with more than the usual grumbling from jaded journalists. But not from Sharis. She recognized the beauty of the idea and kept us organized and enthused. She turned out gorgeous, perfect pages, sentimental but not schmaltzy, with a multimedia component that I know must have driven her nuts. We ran a wide-angle photo of all the attendees and you could click on any face and that person's story about the deceased popped up. Somehow Sharis made that happen. Her enthusiasm and dedication to the project was well-founded: it won best long feature for 2012 at the National Newspaper Awards.
Sharis was also instrumental in helping create one of my all-time favorite features, about a meeting of half-brothers who each didn't know the other existed.
Conscientious, hard-working, creative, great team player as well as self-starter - all that describes Sharis. Plus she can think outside the box. One hot summer day as deadlines loomed, the Star's total computer system went dead. Top editors went pale. Sharis was one of the hugely clever people who figured out a way to put out Canada's largest newspaper on back-up Macs. Add ''brilliant in a crisis'' to her attributes.

Nancy White, Feature Writer, Toronto Star

I would like to highly recommend Sharis Shahmiryan as a graphic designer, or indeed in any design work she may be pursuing.
Sharis is incredibly creative - she could invent a section front art simply with the typefaces she chose if she had to -- and she quickly solves design problems or suggests new options when faced with changing layouts.
What's more, she is dedicated and professional. She will work on a design until all stakeholders are happy - which is no easy task at a newspaper.
Sharis is also a collegial worker. She is willing to share her time on deadline with other designers to help them solve design issues.
Moreover she treats all her colleagues with humour, respect, and grace - no matter the deadline pressures she may be facing.
Because of her personality and creativeness, she has always been given senior design tasks at the Star, and never let anyone down.
Sharis is a catch. I would hire her if I could.

Dianne Rinehart, Books and Visual Arts Editor, Toronto Star

Sharis Shahmiryan has such wonderful skills as a graphic designer that she was hired by the Toronto Star immediately after she graduated from York University/Sheridan Institute Joint Program in Design in 2007. She was always so positive, so eager to create a design that would enhance the content of the story, and she worked hard to capture what the editors and writers needed.
She is a presence who will be missed at the Toronto Star. My hope is that she finds work that allows her to use her terrific skills. She is a lovely, talented woman and a great colleague.

Jennifer Hunter, Book Columnist, Toronto Star