Thursday, 17 August 2017

Natalie Lamb and the World of Graphic Design: Infohackit 2017

I have never been arty. I like to think I am quite a creative person but I completely lack the ability to produce something visually appealing. So I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the Anglian  Centre for Water Studies Infohackit 2017 and I am so glad I did.

Day One

The day started with a presentation and explanation about what Infographics are, a visual representation of data. One thing I think that was really helpful was an explanation of the difference between rasters and vectors. Rasters are like photographs so they get pixelated when you zoom in or increase their size. I had heard of vectors, both the line on a graph type and in terms of disease transmission but never to refer to images. In this sense, they are images formed of calculations so when you re-size them they do not get pixelated. This means you can change the size of an infographic and the content will stay the same, unlike posters produced in PowerPoint. This very small snippet of information was revolutionary to me!

I then opened Adobe Illustrator for the first time. I'm not going to lie- it looked terrifying. But I really enjoyed having a little play with it. I think you can see my progress in  the below images. We had a little play with shapes, we drew around a panda and coloured it in and in the second day, I produced Stonehenge. Using the software was not my strong point but I enjoyed doing something a little different to my normal work.

We then had a go at producing our own infographic. I chose to explain how drinking water is treated because of its relevance to my research. I thought it would be useful with my teaching work with The Brilliant Club. It took me an awfully, embarrassing long time! I was very impressed by the end result, though. I thought in one day, I had progressed a lot from my sad panda! Although saying that, PhD life is definitely more for me than graphic design. I'll stick with the day job.

Day Two

Day two was amazing. I had the opportunity to communicate my research to actual graphic designers who took my work and did amazing things with it. Because my research is on the chemicals used in drinking water, we named our team My Chemical Romance.  The team consisted of Cat Thompson, David Podmore,  Dovile Mikalauskaite and myself. I really appreciated everyone's hard work. We produced a presentation detailing the work we did and the decisions we made, which can be seen in the video below.

After a lot of hard work, I think the final infographic that we produced together was really amazing. It is fun, suitable for our audience and communicates a bite-size amount of work in a really useful way. Normally, I would have presented this information in the format of a table and an accompanying paragraph of text. I think the infographic communicates it a lot more easily and in a lot more of a digestible way.

We were even lucky enough to win first prize for our work! What an excellent way to end such a great few days. I really appreciate all the work that went into the organisation of the event and, especially, all the work that my team members did to produce such an excellent output. It is definitely something that I would do again.