When we think of data visualization, our minds usually jump to digitally-rendered graphs, charts and tables. We know the benefits of starting a design project as sketches on a napkin or scribbles on a scratchpad, but often times it's just a step in the process of getting to the final deliverable. But what if hand-drawn info design can be just as engaging as digital?
Pen and paper is accessible, low fidelity, low risk and adds an element of charm that digital can’t always deliver.
I was inspired to do this Top 5 theme from a project that my co-worker and I embarked on at the beginning of the quarantine as a way to keep us creatively motivated. Fiona and I chose a topic at the start of every week, collected our data and shared our postcards via Zoom. It was inspired by the fantastic Dear Data Project by Pentagram’s Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec. (see list item 1)
How can a “Hand-drawn Information Design” collection be complete without this?! Not only are the drawings themselves miniature works of art, the topics they chose to collect data on are so fun and unexpected. I also love how they’ve scaled their project into a toolkit to help others start their own postcard swap journey. It’s a fun and un-intimidating way for beginners to dip their toes into info design.
Another example of how info design can be collaborative, accessible and easy. Becky invites random New York strangers that she meets on the street to draw the Big Apple as they see it, experience it and live it.
The 100 Aker Wood- A.A Milne and E.H Shepard
I recently saw the Winnie-the-Pooh exhibition at the ROM here in Toronto.This beautifully illustrated map by E.H Shepard brings Winnie’s world of stories and characters closer to reality. It also gave me a healthy dose of childhood nostalgia.
100 Aker Wood, From the endpaper of Winnie-the-Pooh, 1926
E.H Shepard / Pencil on Paper
Gift of E.H. Shepard / V&A: E688-1973
I love the wittiness and simplicity of Jessica Hagy’s Index card project. It’s a reminder that charts and tables can be fun and sarcastic and not always serious, uptight or even 100% accurate.
THE SKETCH NOTE
Screenshot of Giselle Chow, Creative Live Visual Notetaking Class
And I thought I was the only one who actually enjoyed taking notes in school! Sketchnote is a fancy word to describe a drawing that explains the main concepts of a story, usually done in tandem with a talk or a lecture. Designers that can do this have really mastered the art of active listening: they can analyze and decipher key pieces of information in real time drawings that communicate clearly with hierarchy, colour, size, shape, etc.
I hope that this list will inspire you to incorporate hand-drawn design into your practice or kickstart your next quarantine passion project!
Pansy is a strategic information designer with a passion for design advocacy, education and outreach. At Klick Health, Pansy works alongside the strategy team to provide design expertise, solution design and discovery, as well as storytelling applications to client facing and internal projects. She is passionate about advocating for how designers can contribute their skills on a strategic level in non-design industries.
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