Stefanie Posavec is a designer for whom data is her favoured material, with projects ranging from data visualisation and information design to commissioned data art. In December she will deliver a training in Amsterdam on Data-viz drawing. Stefanie: “Drawing is democratic: anyone can pick up a pencil and learn the basic principles of data visualisation”!
Graphic Hunters: If you could choose one visualisation that you can put in a frame and hang in your livingroom, which visualisation would you choose and why?
Stefanie Posavec: Martin Wattenberg’s ‘Shape of Song’ was a visualisation project that I would often refer to when I was completing my MA Communication Design 10 years ago, I even pasted it in my sketchbook! I love it for its simplicity and elegance, and how it so beautifully presented the underlying rhythms of repetition in a song. Since I saw this project, I’ve always considered it a benchmark to set my own work against (alongside much of Martin Wattenberg’s work, including the work he’s done with Fernanda Viegas).
In the training the focus is on drawing visualisations. What are the advantages of drawing?
Drawing is democratic: anyone can pick up a pencil and learn the basic principles of data visualisation! It’s a good reminder to those who feel intimidated by complex data visualisation tools, design software, and coding that you don’t need these to being to understand how to gather and visualise data.
Drawing ensures that your visualisation is human-centred: when you have to think about every rule in your visualisation system without using computing power, it forces you to think on a human scale.
Drawing forces one to be more creative: starting on paper forces new ideas in a way that relying on libraries and standard methods often doesn’t.
What lessons do you want the participants to take home for the training?
The basic principles of data visualisation, taught through drawing. And an understanding of how to use an analogue approach to extend the visual languages they use to visualise data.