Workshops are beautiful (no, really)

This week, AML and Pictet Asset Management spent a day with David McCandless, the infographic guru behind hit hardback, Information is Beautiful. We delved deep into the world of ‘dataviz’ and learnt plenty along the way, including the important role of ‘play’ in his process.

Here are a few of the things that the AMLers in attendance learnt and loved:

Frustration as inspiration
From first seed to concept and sketch stage, David walked us through the way he comes up with infographic gold. Often, he told us, a great idea stems from his own frustrations or problems with existing information. A prime example is his Billion Dollar Gram which helped to give greater context to the huge figures that left his head spinning.

Have a purpose, tell a story
David explained his measure of a good information visualisation. It’s finding the sweet spot between the data you have, the story you want to tell, its function or goal, and having the maximum impact. Sound like a lot to consider? It is. But it’s this balance that draws you in, makes the data digestible and drives you to share it.

Creative collaboration
Far from sitting back and listening to the pro, the day was hands-on for everyone. Clients, creatives and account handlers were all equipped with pads – and the squeak of markers didn’t stop until the whistle blew. Though, as some of David’s creative challenges were capped at just ten minutes, I don’t think many of our creations will be gracing the pages of Information is Beautiful 2.

Process is important – but so is having fun
David helped us all to refine our visual language and structure our creative process better. But he also made it clear that having fun – or ‘play’ – still lies at the heart of his creative process. A point that seemed to resonate strongly with everyone in the room.

And as the afternoon drew to an end, the air thick with the fumes of marker pens, it was clear that making complicated things simple to comprehend can be a beautiful thing indeed.

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