The DataHero Blog

The Art of Data Visualization

August 29th, 2013

TheArtBanner

Andy Warhol once proclaimed that “good art is great business.”  He said this at a time when the modern abstract movement, led by titans such as Rothko and Francis Bacon, focused on introspection, denouncing form in a quest for purity of expression. Warhol shook up the status quo by choosing to turn his back on this “pure” art, focusing instead on representing the world around him in the simplest and most consumable way possible.

RothkovsWarhol

I use the term “consumable” to describe Warhol’s art because there is no second-guessing involved, when looking upon a Warhol, what you see is what you get. He understood that clear communication was the key to creating art that would transform the subject into an icon.  He made art accessible.

When it comes to data visualization, striving for such accessibility is to me the essence of good art. Understanding data in itself is an introverted study, much like the abstract modern movement.  It takes a studied mind and hours of reflection to pull out the relevant information from the piece of data. Even then, the interpretation is up to the viewer and can lead to varying answers for the same question. The true beauty of effective data visualization is that it democratizes the data by making it consumable for the masses.

Below is a simple example to demonstrate this: sales data in tabular form and a graph of that same data.  Compare it to the above Rothko and Warhol piece.  In both cases, the outcome is the same: you will comprehend, analyze and absorb the information presented the graph and that Warhol piece a lot faster than you do the tabular data or the Rothko piece.

dataVSgraph

Reaching your audience and immediately impacting them is especially important when there is an expectation for instant answers. If we really want to reach people and provide them with the information they need to understand at the pace they have come to expect, then we have a responsibility to present data in an easy to consume fashion.

DataHero is here to enable anyone to make even the most complicated data easy to present. Though the term “beautiful” is seldom used in conjunction with data, the real value of data is in direct relation to how well it is communicated. Beautiful and simple to understand imagery is easier to “consume” by the viewer.  Warhol understood this and applied it to his art, making fine art very accessible and, as a result, increasing the value of his own work.  By striving to make your own data more consumable by making it easy to understand, you can raise the value of your information.

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By Gail Yui

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