The art of designing infographics and data visualisations is celebrated with the Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards every year. These awards are anything from boring – combining the skill of understanding data with illustration and design, it takes pretty talented people to come up with these incredible ways of representing information clearly and beautifully.
With a variety of people trying their hand at information design – everything from media publishers to students – this year saw almost 800 entries of infographic, inevitably covering the political and social events of 2016 and 2017, such as Donald Trump’s military ban on transgender people and gender inequality in national parliament. But there’s also the slightly more whimsical topics, like Star Trek, our chocolate consumption and unraveling death in Game of Thrones.
The awards has released a longlist of potential winners under eight categories, followed by a shortlist to be released on October 17, with the winners announced in November. Categories include Arts, Entertainment & Pop Culture, Current Affairs & Politics, Environment & Maps, Humanitarian & Global, Science & Technology, Sports, Games & Leisure, Unusual and a new category, People, Language & Identity. Judges for this year’s awards represent big names like VICE, The Guardian, Saatchi Gallery and the Walt Disney StudioLab.
Image: Infographic by data journalist for The Guardian US, Mona Chalabi
Here we pick out some of our favourites from the longlist, so you can be inspired by the many incredible ways to visualise information – a skill all designers need. It’s definitely worth checking out all the longlistees on the Information is Beautiful website. With topics and ideas far and wide between, it’s a treasure trove of interesting facts, trends and visualisations of humanity.
Take a look at last year's winners also.
Image: Infographic by awards judge and data journalist for The Guardian US, Mona Chalabi
Arts, Entertainment & Pop Culture
Traditional graphic design standard books can be lengthy in text and pretty boring – but this series of visual information graphs creates graphic design specifications and learning materials in accordance with the desired font, layout, colour, graphic design and printing.
"We hope to facilitate graphic design beginners in their understanding, memory and access to basic knowledge about graphic design," its creators said.
Unsurprisingly, this year saw at least three Game of Thrones-based infographics make the longlist, including this detailed one that unravels all the brutal deaths over the past six seasons of Game of Thrones. More than 100 characters have been killed off the show, in everything from mutiny to suicide.
An interesting infographic from the Guardian US, it tracks a book’s progress from idea to completion, by presenting data from an app that author Wyl Menmuir used to help him write his Booker-longlisted debut, which gives insight into how it was done aka the exciting beginning and the rush to finish.
Current Affairs & Politics
Everyone knows by now how much of an emotional man Donald Trump is – just see the amount of exclamation marks on his Twitter account to get an idea. Preiscopic has tracked the rise and fall of intense emotion used in President Trump’s speeches he gave from July through to December. It shows when he used anger, contempt, disgust, fear, sadness, happiness and surprise.
Following on from the horrific events at Las Vegas, gun violence in the US once again gets the spotlight, for all the wrong reasons. This map of the US shows how all of its homicides in 2015 were clustered in just 127 cities and towns, according to analysis by the Guardian, even though they contain less than a quarter of the nation’s population.
Environment & Maps
Remember the old saying, 'All roads lead to Rome'?
It’s much easier to visualise the roads of the Roman Empire through modern context, in the form of a tube map. This visualisation shows connections between cities are emphasised at the expense of topographical accuracy, but it’s left us with historical information in a familiar context.
Humanitarian / Global
This map is another disturbingly powerful example of how bringing foreign information into a relevant context. Reprojected Destruction shows the extent of Aleppo’s recent destruction reprojected onto figure-ground maps of Berlin and London, helping people to relate their known urban environment to the magnitude of destruction that has fallen upon Aleppo.
As a lover of chocolate myself, I can’t decide if this photoviz entirely made out of chocolate is deeply satisfying or frustrating. Pierre Carrey and BIG used chocolate bars to make a treemap, chocolate topping t draw a line graph, and chocolate powder to make proportional circles, and Mikado sticks to create a bar graph.
People, Language & Identity
This design mind map intrigued me as soon as I saw it, and I’m sure many designers will be able to relate – it’s a map of everyone who Shangning Wang admires chronologically, with him at the centre. All these designers influence Shangning, showing the connection between his work and his face. He describes the map as context to review his life experience.
Women are underrepresented in government in most countries worldwide. Even though progress has been made the tendency is still persistent. A simple yet powerful example of numbers put into context.
Science & Technology
Everyone is worried about artificial intelligence taking over their jobs. According to this infographic by Filippo Mastroianni, about 30 percent of UK jobs will be potentially threatened in the coming years by AI. But who’s most at risk?
We loved Randall Munroe aka XKCD’s mega infographic from last year, but we also appreciate the witty simplicity of his 2017 entry. Relatable without needing anything fancy it’s definitely a stand out from many other infographics in these awards.
Sports, Games & Leisure
Another favourite of ours is Mona Chalabi. As well as being a judge on the awards panel, she’s a data journalist for the Guardian US. Her simple line drawings are a refreshing way to consume information, and they’re often humorous too – check out our interview with how she makes them.
Who knew there was such an interesting story behind Snapchat? And now with Facebook essentially stealing its format for its platform as well as Instagram, it’s even more interesting. This short but easy-to-follow infographic tells the tech start-up story.
We recognised this new typeface as a genius invention. Created by After the Flood, with Spark you can show a combination of text and visual data, which is will organise automatically. You can read our full story here.
Every element has been hand-drawn using widely supported features of OpenType fonts so it can be used to enhance a piece of text with visualisations – a great idea for some of us who are a little less mathematically savvy.
Sparklines are a small graphic, designed to give a quick representation of numerical or statistical information within a piece of text, taking the form of a graph without axes.
Ever wanted to know how much chocolate Europe eats? This graph created by the Creative and Design team of the Kantar Health Paris office, is a take on “This is not a pipe”, the famous painting by Magritte, depicting an image of a pipe and not a real pipe. Who knew that Germans ate more chocolate than Belgium?