Kenneth Zapata is a Designer at Fat Pencil Studio
Amidst a variety of projects which can include working with medical diagrams, an excel document, security footage, or construction drawings, we find ourselves sifting through loads of data trying to make sense of it all. That's where the beauty can present itself. Whether it's a typical bar graph or a figure-ground map we're always looking at inventive approaches to help guide our work.
To recap what has been yet another busy year for Fat Pencil Studio, we look at the staff's favorite visualizations from this year!
In the midst of so many awful things happening in the world, it was heartwarming to see so many people engage with a word game this year. As a lover of crossword puzzles, I gladly jumped on the Worlde bandwagon early in 2022, and continue to try and solve the challenge daily – I’ve even added the Russian version to my routine, and my parents and I regularly share our stats.
So I was tickled by this visual analysis of how many guesses it took players for each word, based on Twitter posts from 12/15/21 to 3/5/22. Robert Lesser graphed a variety of Wordle-related data points back in April but I especially like how this chart makes us consider the relative difficulty of different words, and what that might mean about our brains and the English language. I also appreciate this visual representation of a really well-balanced game – neither too simple nor impossible to win.
My choice of visualization is a reflection of several interests of mine: design, maps, and pasta. This infographic displays a relationship of pasta ingredients to its geographical roots in Rome. Overall, the graph feels like something closer to a poster to put on display rather than a presentation of information. Design elements leaning on letterpress imagery contrasting against a striking orange backsplash, all the while providing a brief history lesson for each item.
This is a classic gas station road map of Oregon, modified to show what the state will look like if the world's ice sheets melt and sea level rises 66 meters.
This cartography studio has produced a wide array of sea level rise maps, including several of the Portland area, but my favorite is this mashup of vintage car culture and the future it helped create.
I'm a big fan of Sankey Diagrams that illustrate the flow of goods from a source to a destination. Tufte's map of Napoleon's March, and LLNL's annual Chart of Energy Consumption are two notable examples.
When I saw this chart of Grain Shipments for Export, I was drawn in by it's evocative nature. Detail such as the small "islands" strategically placed at the intersection between lines make me feel like I'm navigating a river while studying the chart.
I stumbled upon this tweet from Sahil Bloom and thought it was an enlightening look at who and how we spend our time. I typically forget things I stumble upon on the internet, but this one stuck with me.
In an effort to not be too sentimental, I hope you can take time to look at each graph individually and find some meaningful takeaways.
The source for the graphs were from a broad sampling from the American Time Use Survey from 2009-2019 and compiled by Our World In Data.
I appreciate the breadth of data points being represented so cohesively (if a bit overwhelming on first pass) in a singular chart. And the intensity of the collection and composition relative to the actual content is wonderful and hilarious. The circular images become a sort of anchor point for the eyes and mind, while the top bell curve provides a solid basis for the grading below. The style of graph is readily identifiable yet used in a somewhat unusual manner. Gold star.