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Painting by Numbers – A Data Visualisation Workshop with Andy Kirk

Systems & Tools 04 December 2013 | 4.06am

I recently had the pleasure of attending a workshop run by Andy Kirk, of Visualising Data, kindly hosted by Ernst and Young at their offices with a fantastic view over the Yarra River and Melbourne Sports precinct.

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Andy has quickly become one of the leading experts in the data visualisation field over the last few years through his work and website, as well as the recent publication of a key book on the topic.

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The workshop has a strong focus on the aesthetics of visualisation design, as well as strategic planning and data collation. However, Andy also provides some information on the history of visualisation and infographics, with some great background stories. The aesthetics cover such things as colour choices, fonts, layout and medium. There are some key lessons in what not to do, which for the most part are obvious to most designers but may not be obvious to number crunchers and analysts from other backgrounds. Other parts of the day focussed on the analytic aspects of data; for example, what do you do when the data you have is not enough? Andy has some great suggestions on how to solve these issues, and also provides links on his website for open data that may fill some gaps when needed.

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It has to be said that Andy is not a trainer, like many of us working in this digital world, his background is from that grey area between IT and graphic design. Andy’s workshop is both informative, inspiring and a lot of fun, most likely due to the fact that he lives, breathes and, one imagines, dreams all things visualisation. A full day of looking at slides is so much more enjoyable when the facilitator comes from the Edward Tufte school of thought. Andy also litters his slides with quotes relevant to design, critical thinking and data analysis, all of which give an insight into the mind of a man who is so passionate about this topic.

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If Andy happens to be coming near you, and you have an interest in data visualisation, be sure to book it in. Like a rising popstar, his tour schedule is available on his website.


Slides reproduced with permission from Andy Kirk’s Introduction to Data Visualisation workshop

Edward Tufte kitten wallpaper reproduced courtesy of Mark Goetz

Dean Morris

Melbourne, Australia

“I provide support to projects with a wide range of multimedia, web-based and digital technologies. I am interested in how digital media can allow clients to interact with complex designs by way of 3D models, video and animation.”

View all posts by: Dean Morris