One of the more fun parts of my data visualization workshops is where I give people Post-It Notes and Sharpie markers, show them two numbers, and ask them to draw as many graphs as they can. Quantity, not quality, I tell them. And off they go. In groups of 2 or 3 or 4, everyone starts out slow with pie charts and bar charts and column charts. Maybe they draw some circles or squares or people. And maybe they try a map or some other icon.

And then, usually, they stall out. They’ve checked off everything that they can make in Excel or Stata or whatever tool they use. That’s when I give them a little prompt: Think about the ways you interact with data every day, on your phones, on the subway, the signs on the road. Think about things you see on your computer; don’t get bogged down by what you know you can make on the computer or what your boss will like or not like.






The exercise has two primary goals. First, it gives people the opportunity to free themselves from what they can make on a computer, and the boundaries of using actual data. By freeing ourselves from our tools, we can play, and that’s one of the ways to be really creative. And second, they get to draw. They get to draw freely without any judgment and any critique.







But I’m no illustrator. And I’m certainly no designer. And that’s why I am very excited to announce that I am partnering with Stefanie Posavec to offer two data visualization workshops this June, one in DC and one in Chicago.

You likely know Stefanie as one side of the duo who created Dear Data. You might also know her from her Writing Without Words data visualizations, her data visualization wearables, or any of her other awesome projects, installations, and designs.

Together, we hope to deliver a one-day workshop unlike any other by approaching data visualization from two sides: data science and design. We’ll explore styles, techniques, and best practices to create meaningful and beautiful visualizations.

We are both really excited about the opportunity to work together and learn from each other–and also to learn from attendees. We’ve designed the course for anyone interested in data visualization and who wants to better understand the general design process regardless of their data analysis or software skills. We think the workshop will be great for all kinds of people seeking to improve the way they communicate their data:

– People working with and analyzing data including government analysts, scholars, and researchers are interested in improving how they communicate their work

– Communication designers and other creatives looking to expand their communication design skillset

– Publishers and content creators who want to explore visual approaches to communicating their company’s message

The first workshop will take place on Thursday, June 14th in Chicago, IL (we haven’t secured a space yet, but it will be near the city center) and the second will be held the following week on Tuesday, June 19th at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC.

Registration for both workshops is available on Eventbrite:

Data Designed in Chicago: June 14, 2018

Data Designed in Washington, DC: June 19, 2018


We are selling a limited number of Early Bird tickets (available through March 31st), so register soon! We are also offering discounts to nonprofits and students, so send me an email if you have a .edu or .org email account.

If you want more details about the workshop, what we hope you’ll learn, and what you’ll get, you can check out the full prospectus here.

We hope you can attend!