I’d worked in journalism for 25 years and I got bored just writing words. I got into designing websites and realised the two were quite similar, so I ended up doing the same thing in a slightly prettier way.
I do a lot of research gathering data, pooling it all together on a spreadsheet and moving it around, finding an interesting angle. Many of the graphics arise out of my frustration, anger and boredom. When I don’t understand something, a graphic clarifies it. That’s where I get inspiration.
The goal’s to get the two in harmony. The work’s about 80 per cent data, 20 per cent design. The quickest was done in three days, the longest was eight months: a massive history of Earth and the evolution of life. It was a crazy idea.
Difficult because we had to gather studies. We had to interpret and collate them all, placing them into definitive years. Not all studies are the same.
We compared the prison population’s crimes against gender. It showed that men, predictably, commit more violent crimes but women commit more manslaughter and drug abuse.
It’s tricky. We keep checking and researching – that’s the best we can do. Sometimes you take data from a reliable source, like the UN, and then use that to build other assumptions. But one time we double-checked a UN count on CO2 release and realised it was flawed. We had to scrap the whole graphic.
I’ve been in my cave for two years making graphics, stumbling round in a daze. It’s quite conceptually heavy and everything has to be precise. It’s taxing, hard work, but it’s rewarding.