Infographics workshop in Amsterdam

We’ll probably have workshops in Taiwan and Singapore before the end of the year, but it’s never too soon to announce the next one in Europe: next February I’ll be again in Amsterdam (Netherlands) teaching a two-day workshop on infographics 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.

Here is some additional information on the workshop, which will take place on February 8 and 9, 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.

The class is taught in a beautiful location (Mmousse) in a downtown canal house on one of Amsterdam’s most beautiful canals, around the corner of the central station. The idea is to have a relatively small group. I did a version of the workshop in the same space two years ago (photo below).

Here is a testimonial (translated from Dutch)

The two day workshop Information Graphics For Print and Online was very inspiring and helped us (myself and my colleagues) very much. The organization of the workshop was excellent. In a nice location with a nice working environment and good lunches! The group of students was great. Large enough to have many different angles. And small enough to have a lot of personal interaction. Additionally, it is very nice to get in touch with people with similar interests (dataviz!), but completely different backgrounds. The course leader provided a wealth of experience and knowledge, and offered space to mess as a group with the matter. In addition to the inspiration, we learned to work with different visualization tools and get better visualizations. The extra that the course leader, Juan Velasco, added, were the aspects of dataviz that make it a classic craft. Or even an art form. Rid of all the fancy tools you can use today, and then you come back to the essence again. I recommend it to everyone!”

If you are interested in attending, please contact Goof van de Winkel at info@graphichunters.nl.

Finally, you’ll find a cool note on Graphic Hunters’ website: since they work with trainers from abroad who travel by plane to the Netherlands specifically for the training, CO2 emissions from these trips are compensated by Graphic Hunters by contributing to Trees for All. Great idea!

 

 

 

 

Catalogs of chart types

The Data Viz Project is a new online catalog of different types of charts created by Ferdio, an infographics studio in Denmark. It’s a useful resource to help decide appropriate types of visualization for any given dataset (another thing is to decide which one will be the most insightful and revealing when you have multiple options). You can view and sort by type, function or shape.

Each type of chart includes a description, a good gallery of real-life examples, and a very simple description of the type of data input needed to create that type of chat, in a table format (what you would input in Excel, for instance).

The Data Viz Project is the latest of many efforts to classify and catalog different ways of visualizing data. Another excellent online resource is the Data Visualization Catalogue, developed by Severino Ribecca, which we often show in our workshops.

Ribecca teamed up with Jon Schwabish in another project to create the Graphic Continuum, a nicely designed poster taxonomy of different types of charts, and how they all relate to each other. You can read more about it here.

The Graphic Continuum

And here is yet another similar effort by Andrew Abela, which shows different possibilities depending on your purpose when showing the data.

Here is one by Anna Vital that is not strictly about charts but is interesting because it looks at visual analogies and metaphors that can help us think of ideas to visualize information.

If you are looking for a truly comprehensive reference guide on different types of visualization with charts and maps, our hands-down favorite is still the book Information Graphics: A Comprehensive Illustrated Reference, by Robert L. Harris. The 450-pages book is a massive reference encyclopedia with hundreds of entries, examples and cross-references about different chart, map and diagram types, as well as statistical and visualization methods. The latest edition is from 2000 but it’s still the “Bible” of reference on visualization.

 

 

Free data journalism courses in Learno

Here is a very useful quality resource for anyone interested in data journalism, data visualization and journalism on the web. LEARNO.NET is a website with free video courses for media professionals, journalism students and “anyone with a public-interest mission and a journalistic mindset”. LEARNO.NET is an initiative of the European Journalism Centre (EJC), a non-profit foundation dedicated to strengthen journalism by providing tools and resources, including training.

EJC also runs DataDrivenJournalism.net, a hub for news, resources and networking in data journalism.

Many of the available courses are related to data visualization and infographics, with a focus on how to effectively work with data and produce compelling data stories. They range from simple introductions to advanced skills. Instructors are among the very best in their specialties, including Alberto Cairo, Maarten Lambrechts, Simon Rogers and more.

The list of available courses is short but very compelling. Three are very recent:
Cleaning Data in Excel, by Maarten Lambrechts
Data visualization, journalism and the web: mistakes we made so you don’t have to, by Jonathon Berlin
Going viral using using social media analytics, by Stijn Debrouwere

And these are the rest:
Doing journalism with data: first steps, skills and tools, by Paul Bradshaw, Alberto Cairo, Steve Doig, Simon Rogers and Nicolas Kayser-Bril
Charting tools for the newsroom, by Maarten Lambrechts (upcoming)
Verification: the basics, by Craig Silverman and Claire Wardle
Managing data journalism projects, by Jacopo Ottaviani
Google search for journalists, by Nicholas Whitaker
– Bulletproof data journalism, by Stijn Debrouwere

It’s great initiative and we are hoping to see more courses in the near future.

 

 

ArcGIS maps in Illustrator and Photoshop

Design and communication professionals should be really excited about a recent development in mapping: ArcGIS maps for the Adobe Creative Cloud.

GIS (Geographic Information System) software links location information in the form of databases with latitude and longitude coordinates to different types of information: demographic data to census tracts or divisions, election results to states, land use to natural or urban areas, etc. The user decides what layers (which may come from government or private sources) are going to be combined in order to visualize, analyze, and interpret the data to show relationships, patterns, and trends. As I mentioned in a previous post, GIS packages such as ESRI’s ArcGIS are rarely used by designers or news infographics departments as they are expensive, difficult to learn specialized tools normally used by GIS analysts and cartographers. With very, very few exceptions, those designers and graphics editors limit themselves to fairly basic mapping techniques that don’t take advantage of the power of GIS to uncover patterns through spatial analysis of large datasets.

The partnership between ESRI and Adobe offers ArcGIS functions within Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop via an extension or plugin. Designers can access thousands of data-driven map layers inside the Adobe programs as vectors or raster files, and play with colors, layers and styles to customize the maps using the familiar tools of Illustrator and Photoshop.

Creating maps with the extension is fairly straightforward. Without leaving Illustrator and Photoshop you define the area extent, size and scale of the base map, then search for data map layers (street maps, political boundaries, terrain, satellite images, election data, demographic information, economic indicators, environmental, etc), and finally you add/download the map to your Adobe workspace. It’s then already arranged in layers and ready to edit and polish by manipulating colors, appearance and fonts with the usual Illustrator and Photoshop tools.

You can get the beta version here. It has been available for a while, and the first full version is slated for release in the second Quarter of 2017, with no specific date yet (it’s been delayed before). Some of the functions are clunky and/or slow, but it is definitely great news and I can imagine how in few years this may become an essential tool for infographics designers to create and publish advanced data maps. You do require a subscription to ArcGIS Online (pricing info here) to be able to sign in but there is a trial version available.

Here is an introduction showing the capabilities of the plugin and how it works, and a longer, more recent video with added detail:

All images by ESRI

 

 

 

 

Annual report for UNICEF USA

We recently finished a nice project designing the infographics and charts for the 2016 Annual Report of UNICEF USA. We worked under the creative direction of UNICEF’s Anna Christian to create a series of simple, bold data and information visual summaries.

UNICEF USA helps save and protect the world’s most vulnerable children. Rated one of the best charities to donate to, 90% of every dollar spent goes directly to help children. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a United Nations programme that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.

All the online winners of the Malofiej Infographics Awards

We just found a fantastic site by J. A. Álvarez (@infoiguacel) that compiles all the online winners of the 25th edition of the Malofiej Infographics Awards. You can filter by type of award, country, and readership. What a source of inspiration! Big thanks to @infoiguacel for putting this together.

The winners of the Malofiej Awards were announced a couple of weeks ago. The Malofiej Summit is held every year in Pamplona (Spain) and is still, in my opinion, the best event in the world if you want to know what is happening in the field of information graphics and data visualization. Since they are for the most part journalistic work, the graphics have a strong focused on being clear, explanatory and insightful to clarify news events. They are the “Pulitzer of Infographics”. It includes the competition of print and online infographics (over 1300 entries from 134 organizations in 31 countries participated), a 2-day conference that attracts professionals from all over the world and a three-day workshop called “Show Don’t Tell”. The workshop for professionals is taught by Fernando Baptista of National Geographic, Xaquín Gonzalez from The Guardian and John Grimwade from the University of Ohio. It doesn’t get any better than that! I was fortunate to be an instructor for the workshop for 10 years.

This year there was also a workshop for students, taught by Michael Stoll, Professor of the Augsburg University of Applied Sciences.

There is a special bonus from Malofiej. Every year they publish a fantastic book with all the award winners. There is no better source of inspiration for print and online infographics and to see the state of the art, trends and work from different countries.

This year the top prizes (Best of Show) went to Corriere della Sera (Italy) and The New York Times (USA), for the print and online categories respectively, with the graphics ‘Journey of Foreign Fighters’ (shown below) and ‘Olympic Races Social Series’.

Over the years, we at 5W have been lucky to win a few Malofiej Awards (from our previous jobs at the NY Times, National Geographic, Fortune or directly with 5W’s work. Here is my Terracotta Warriors graphic for National Geographic (in collaboration with Pure Rendering GmbH) that won the Best of Show a few years back:

By the way, everybody asks this: what does Malofiej mean? Alejandro Malofiej was an Argentinian cartographer considered to be a pioneer in infographics, who died in 1987. The event was named after him as a tribute. The 25th anniversary is an important milestone. Here is a video tribute to Javier Errea, the President of the Spanish Chapter of SND, who has been the head of Malofiej for the last 17 years. A well deserved recognition!

 

Our book LOOK INSIDE featured in Fast Company’s Co.Design

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CO.DESIGN is great website about the intersection of business and design created by the team of FastCompany  magazine. They just published a nice review of our book Look Inside, by Meg Miller, including some nice samples. You can read it here.


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Our new book about cutaways, LOOK INSIDE: Cutaway Illustrations and Visual Storytelling is a showcase of the best, most beautiful and fascinating cutaway illustrations ever created, from historical times to now. Cutaways, exploded views, and cross sections, are explored across a wide range of applications and disciplines. Architectural renderings, anatomical illustrations, machine diagrams, and even fantasy illustrations are just a few of the various subjects presents in this compilation.

LOOK INSIDE is published worldwide by Gestalten and can be ordered in Amazon, at the Gestalten online store or wherever books are sold.