About Juan Velasco

Founder and Creative Director of The 5W Velasco Design Group

How America Uses Its Land

We just came across a really engaging graphics feature by Bloomberg.com. How America Uses Its Land, by Dave Merrill and Lauren Leatherby. It’s well sourced and nicely designed. As the intro states, “The 48 contiguous states alone are a 1.9 billion-acre jigsaw puzzle of cities, farms, forests and pastures that Americans use to feed themselves, power their economy and extract value for business and pleasure.” There are quite a few surprises for the reader, such as the massive amount of land used as cow pasture/range (see map above). 41 percent of U.S. land in the contiguous states is used as pasture or cropland used to produce feed.

Here is the overall distribution of land uses:

Forest and timberland take another large chuck of the space. Did you know a company called Weyerhauser Co. owns or controls an area of timberland equivalent to the size of West Virginia?

 

 

Data graphics for the Inter-American Development Bank

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is the largest source for development financing for LAC (Latin America and the Caribbean) countries. Founded in 1959 and based in Washington DC, IDB produces regular reports on trade, economic integration, poverty and social inequalities reduction, environmental sustainability and other issues.

We recently started collaborating with IDB with some data graphics on trade integration. The LAC countries have extensive trade gaps and missing links (countries or areas without preferential trade agreements). The chart above highlights bilateral trade links between countries missing the advantage of preferential trade agreements. It’s a redesign of the graphic below, an “spaghetti map” which we found hard to follow. We used a more rational geometric design (the real geography doesn’t help here), and different weights/colors depending on the amount of trade to establish hierarchy and visual clarity.

There are multiple, small size trade agreements in the area but the goal is a region-wide Free Trade Agreement (LAC-FTA) that is able to compete in the global scene. The graphic below shows the size of the proposed agreement compared to other large trade agreements in the world, and to the economies or other countries and the world as a whole.

And the graphic below also refers to the lacks of agreements between different regions and countries in the area, this time as a grid. The empty spaces are the focus of interest here.

To know more about the issue, you can download the recent IDB publication here in English, Spanish or Portuguese (this version doesn’t include our graphics):

Connecting the Dots: A Road Map for a Better Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean (© 2018 Inter-American Development Bank, Integration and Trade Sector)

 

New Infographics and Dataviz workshops: Dallas, NYC, San Diego and Washington DC

Our 5W Academy (a learning division of 5W Infographics focused on educational programs, workshops and conferences) is announcing four new editions of the popular two-day Infographics and Data Visualization workshop. We’ll be heading to Dallas (September 13-14, New York City (October 2-3), San Diego (October 18-19), and Washington DC (October 25-26). Learn more about the instructors and schedule of the new workshops in our page. We are offering a good discount for early bird registrations. You can register directly in our Eventbrite pages:

We received great feedback from our most recent US workshops, in DC and San Francisco last April and May. In each case, a combination of local and out-of-state participants from government agencies, design and advertising studios, NGOs and other organizations got together for two days. The workshops are a comprehensive introduction to the creation of infographics and data visualization. No previous experience is needed. You can find some frequently asked questions about our workshops in this post.

 

DC and San Francisco workshops

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5W Academy is heading to San Francisco in a few days for our next Infographics and Data visualization workshop in the US. It will be on May 10-11.

We received great feedback from our Washington D.C. workshop last week. A combination of local and out-of-state participants from government agencies, design and advertising studios, NGOs and other organizations got together for two days (photos above and below).

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The two-day workshop is a comprehensive introduction to the creation of infographics and data visualization. With a mix of theory and practice, the workshop is aimed at professionals and students interested in developing the skills to produce engaging, insightful visual storytelling with their content. No previous experience with infographics or specialized software is required.

We will learn about gathering and preparing data, the Do’s and Don’ts of working with numerical information and charts, and the principles of visual hierarchy, color, typography, illustration, and narrative to create impactful infographics.

Attendees will sketch out infographics, storyboard motion graphics and create / publish their interactive data visualizations and web maps with the help of Tableau Public, Flourish and other tools for non-programmers. The class will discuss award-winning projects and offer an overview of tools and strategies for creating infographics and data visualization.

After San Francisco, our next workshop will be in Singapore, the next edition of our popular Power of Infographics workshop (May 24-25), hosted by our friends at Methodology.

Learn more about the instructors and schedule of our San Francisco workshop in our page or register directly here. See you soon in California!

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Infographics workshop in Utretch

Next September I’ll be in Utretch (Netherlands) teaching a two-day workshop on infographics and data visualization for print and online. It’s organized by Graphic Hunters, an initiative by Goof van de Winkel that provides training on graphical literacy, infographic storytelling, online data visualization and more in the Netherlands with international trainers. It will be my second time around after a great experience in Amsterdam two years ago (photo below).

Here is more information on the workshop, which will take place on September 27-28, 2018. No previous experience is required. The course is suited to anyone who’s interested in learning how to communicate effectively through data visualization and infographics. It could appeal to graphic designers, editors, communications or marketing professionals, data analysts and/or researchers. It’s a mix of theory and lots of hands-on exercises where we’ll look at some principles of visual storytelling, design, best practices with charts and maps, tools and key concepts in interactive and data visualization, and more. We’ll also have a chance to practice with great tools non-developers can use to create online data visualization and maps, such as Tableau, Flourish or Datawrapper.

The class will take place in English in Utretch’s beautiful Central Museum. If you are interested in attending, please contact Goof van de Winkel at info@graphichunters.nl or dial +0 31 06 28383150.

 

New book: Practical Tableau

Anyone interested in data visualization with Tableau should take note of a new book being published this month: Practical Tableau — 100 Tips, Tutorials, and Strategies from a Tableau Zen, by Ryan Sleeper (published by O’Reilly). The book is a comprehensive and useful overview that can be used by complete beginners as well as by people with more advanced skills. Structured as a collection of 100 short “tip” chapters, it has multiple step-by-step tutorials to build a broad variety of chart types and introductions to working with filters, parameters, calculated fields, and other advanced options in Tableau. It also outlines principles of storytelling with data, using color, dashboards, etc. Overall, it’s an eminently practical guide that I can easily recommend (another great Tableau guide is this book by Ben Jones).

During our 5W Academy workshops (next in Washington D.C. and San Francisco), we do a few hands-on exercises with Tableau. It’s a powerful and intuitive drag and drop tool to build data visualizations.

Tableau has some shortcomings: a couple of examples are the less than optimal handling of responsiveness for different screen sizes, or the lack of map projections (although Tableau now works with spatial files such as shapefiles, GeoJSON, KML, etc.). And it’s a closed system. For simple charts/maps and limited datasets many users maybe be better served by using Datawrapper, Flourish or other recent and excellent open-source dataviz tools for non-developers, but Tableau’s robust and comprehensive data analysis capabilities still make it a preferred tool in many organizations. As an example, the United Nations just announced it’s adopting Tableau as their visual analytics standard across its multiples agencies.

Practical Tableau is due to be released this month as a paperback, and the Kindle version is already available.

 

 

Our Power of Infographics workshop, back in Singapore in May

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I’ll be back in Singapore on May 24-25 teaching a new edition of the 2-day workshop “The Power of Infographics” organized by Methodology. Fortunately, the workshop has continued to be in high demand and is nearing the 10th edition since 2015.

Methodology was co-founded by two of the most talented designers in Singapore: Brian Ling of Design Sojourn and Jackson Tan of Black Design and contemporary art collective Phunk. It organizes public and corporate workshops in Singapore and the rest of South East Asia. “We believe that design can make a positive difference to the world and we seek to be custodians of this change by curating and sharing the world’s best creative ideas and design processes. We collaborate with global leaders at the forefront of design, craft and innovation to develop education programs, workshops, conferences and media.”

The workshop is attended by a mix of professionals including designers, marketers, students, and civil servants from different areas of the government. They are looking for an introduction to visual storytelling and the principles, tools and techniques to find visual insight in our content by using infographics, charts, maps and data visualization (both in print and online).

Register here or contact Methodology at admin@methodology.sg for more information.