Info Through Illustrator

About Me:
My name is Eric and I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in American Studies at Brown. I also work full-time at Brown in Athletic Communications.

Curation Project Idea:
For my curation project, I wanted to learn a new visualization application and use that design tool to present a small set of data in a more dynamic way. I regularly use Photoshop and InDesign with my everyday job, so I turned to Adobe Illustrator in order to make a more data-driven infographic, using college hockey players in the National Hockey League as the subject. The goals of the project were: 1) learn a new visualization application with some sort of graph component and 2) stick to the curation theme of the project by managing a larger set of data.

Project Process:
I started the initial phases of the project during the first two data workshop days in class, using my time to explore Illustrator through the few different Lynda courses online, both on using the application to create infographics. These proved to be slow at times, but still valuable. The courses gave some background on the importance of infographics as a communication tool and then walked the viewer through some of the basic elements of Illustrator. However, despite my previous knowledge of Photoshop, learning the basics of Illustrator was a slow process. I also turned to online step-by-step on other websites in order to learn some of the common aspects of Illustrator, such as creating a bar graph, in addition to simple design elements.

My data set was a sortable table on College Hockey Inc., which provided every former college hockey who played in the NHL this season. (Note: the data used was collected at the end of March). The comprehensive list was large, though easily organized by school, so I decided to concentrate on ECAC schools to showcase Brown side-by-side rival programs.

The Product:








Final Analysis:
The final product was a raw first attempt at Illustrator but definitely gave me a starting point with a new application. From a communications standpoint, Illustrator is best suited for data-heavy infographics, since the graph tool allows the user to incorporate data directly from Excel or another platform. I only used a small sample set, but the application gives the creator to opportunity to use a variety of different graphs in order to properly tell a direct story. There are similarities between Illustrator and Photoshop, but each has its pros and cons in terms of time, learnability and personal preference.

Illustrator is a perfect tool if dynamic graphs are needed in digital storytelling. From a curation standpoint, my product collected part of a larger set of data (college alum list) and used a tactical snapshot of that set to showcase a particular story (Brown at the top of the ECAC list) through a more visual graphic. Much like my distortion project with Adobe Spark, Illustrator not only creates a more visually-appealing product, but one that can be easily shared on various web-based platforms and social media applications.


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