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Project Type: Data Visualization Poster
Timeframe: 3 weeks (Fall 2011)
Individual Project using Illustrator, Photoshop, Information Design

01. Project Brief

What is a self-portrait? Is it a representation of how I see myself? Or is it what I want others to know about me? These were some of the questions that I explored in this project for Graduate Design Studio I. Our task was to take any kind of data about ourselves and represent it as a data visualization poster. After considering various kinds of data I had about myself, I decided to create a poster mapping some of the influences—large and small—that various people in my life have had on me.


02. Gathering Data

We started off by generating numerous lists of data about ourselves and organizing the data using the five main ways of organizing information, first proposed by information architect Richard Saul Wurman. These five ways were known as the “Five Hatracks”: Location, Alphabetical, Time, Category, and Hierarchy (or, by the acronym LATCH). Our final poster would need to make use of at least two of these methods.




03. Data Visualization

I brainstormed different ways of visualizing the data I had, trying to stay away from a traditional timeline. Meditating on what the meaning of an “influence” really was, I realized it could be profound or shallow, transient or permanent at the same time. The fuzzy nature of what “influence” even was and a consideration of representing time in a cyclical fashion led me to eventually envision my chart as three concentric circles with edges that merged into one another. I also decided to draw small portraits of the people in my life, even though chances are the audience would not know them personally, because it was always interesting to have a face to put to a name. I also decided to include small vignettes of how a certain person influenced me to make each data point more personal.




04. Final Poster

The dimensions of the final poster are 42″x42″, to make the small text of the vignettes legible. I was nervous working in such a large format, so I learned to print out test crops of the poster to check that the colors and sizes of the type were correct.




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