“A picture is worth a thousand words.” We’ve all heard this phrase more than a thousand times, but in today’s attention-strapped and data-clogged media landscape it could not be more true. Which is why over the last ten years we have witnessed the art of the information graphic grow to gigantic proportions. Sometimes beyond logical reason (no, the takeout menu for your sandwich shop does not require an infographic), but in many cases a complex idea would be utterly lost on its readers were it not for a smart and illuminating visual explanation.
And this is precisely where our happy nerd hearts come in – we have loved every minute of the countless hours spent number crunching, circumference calculating, and dot plotting over the years. We have had the privilege to work with some of today’s most prolific and influential media publishers and our data visualization work has exposed us to a wealth of fascinating topics we would maybe otherwise not have a chance to think about more deeply.
One such highlight includes the first information graphic we ever designed (above) – back in 2004 we developed an intricate diagram depicting all of the size scales of the visible universe, published as a 3 foot custom fold-out inside Ivan Amato’s “Supervision: A New View of Nature” (Harry N. Abrams).
Often the most effective way to describe, explore, and summarize a set of numbers – even a very large set – is to look at pictures of those numbers.
– Edward Tufte, Statistician, Data Visualization Pioneer, Hero
While working with GOOD magazine on the overhaul of their website back in 2008, we began a multi-year data visualization collaboration, which began with the holiday spending-themed GOOD sheet distributed through a partnership with Starbucks just before Black Friday that year (above), and continued on to a series of information graphic campaigns dealing with topics such as drug use patterns in the U.S., the global eradication of polio, America’s public education system and diversity and ethics in sports (below).
Skipping ahead to 2012, our team’s work was featured in several issues of The Atlantic, including the below piece for the April 2012 “Money Report” analyzing shifts in American spending over the last half of the 20th century (a digital version might still be up on the Atlantic website: theatln.tc/2rzNWKT).
Other information graphics we designed for The Atlantic included “How To Make a Hollywood Hit” (theatln.tc/2qV8qei), a special report on the state of American schools, as well as a 14-page feature for the 2012 Ideas Issue featuring 23 1/2 “prescriptions, provocations, and modest proposals for making the world a better place” (i.e. banning gasoline to abolishing the secret ballot and selling the pill over the counter).
Also in 2012 we got to collaborate with Outside magazine on their 35th anniversary issue, which included a series of full-page visual explorations of a variety of data from a series of polls compiled by Outside readers. (below below).
And last but not least, we will finish off this roundup of some of our favorite information graphic work from the last 10 years with these four highlights: a detailed look at the effectiveness of employee benefits & flexibility for the November 2014 issue of Inc. Magazine (below left), a typography-focused diagram illuminating the origin and use of seven notable fonts for the July 2011 issue of Fast Company, and to top it all off, a series of infographics for one of our favorite magazines of all time – National Geographic, featuring research on animal speeds, gestation, how long different species can go without eating and the lightning patterns of fireflies.
FUN FACT: In extreme cases a human being can survive 100 days without food.
LIGHTER FUN FACT: Although the font Arial, a near copy of the iconic Helvetica, was commissioned by Microsoft to avoid licensing fees, the company’s logo is in an italicized Helvetica.