In the unending quest for viral graphics I had the idea to compare movie ratings across trilogies. This is not a new idea, and has been done before, but it’s a great idea, and worth exploring yet again with a different angle. IMDB is a goldmine of data and one angle I thought was interesting was the difference between the composite critics rating and the average user rating. Did viewers agree with critics? Where was the gulf the widest? A survey of the top movie trilogies would surely surface some insights. But that alone is not enough for virality, like I said, its been done before.
I wanted to bring a visual element to the graphic.. a custom touch. I had worked with a pixel artist, Eloy, before and knew his style would be perfect for what I envisioned. As I have many jobs to do as Creative Director at Visual.ly, I always ‘dogfood‘ our own product as it saves time and headaches. I started a project in our marketplace and brought in a journalist who could collect the data. Normally on these marketing graphics we would source a designer from our own pool of certified talent but since I already had a designer on board, I only made use of Visual.ly’s journalist talent and the efficiency of the project center itself to get this graphic to completion in record time.
I love the result. Eloy’s characters are wonderful and I regret not being able to use them at full resolution. Below is the one trilogy I wasn’t able to include in the graphic as there was no acceptable critics score available. Can you guess which trilogy it is?
The rest of the design, besides the characters, was done by myself, and my Visual.ly compatriot Drew came up with the title.
Originally posted at visual.ly
Ten years ago, I created the first in what would become a hugely popular series of annual visualizations of the federal budget, “Death and Taxes.”
It was, in retrospect, garbage:
There was no reason for it to be anything but garbage. Unbalanced design; no attention to typography. Back then, I wasn’t a designer and I didn’t know anything about the federal government. (My day job was selling faux vintage bric-a-brac to identity deficient 20-somethings at Urban Outfitters.) It was 2004 and infographics wasn’t even a word.
But if you can’t be the best at something, be the first. Prior to Death and Taxes, the federal budget visualizations were confined to the bounds of a Power Point slide. The pie charts and bar charts worked for the top line figures, but were incompatible with the 1,000-page beast of a budget the govertment put out each year. The only reason the chart became a poster was be cause it was just too large to fit on any computer screen. It still is.
The image became a brief internet hit two years later, in 2006, and I started doing one each year. The poster progressed in terms of design, density, and accuracy, too, as I started to develop a sense of how the government worked.
Along the way, I became known as an infographics guy, which developed into some great opportunities and partnerships. Infographics themselves rose to prominence, further expanding the poster’s (and my own) reach. Eventually I ended up here as Creative Director of Visual.ly, a long way from selling faux vintage bric-a-brac at Urban Outfitters.
But with my own personal development and opportunies came new demands for my time, and the annual research and production of the Death and Taxes poster is not something I could continue. In fact, I didn’t manage to get a poster out for 2013. But it was clear from the emails and feedback that this project just could not fade into the internet ether. It was too important. There is still, after all these year, no more open and accessible record of government spending.
Fortunately, around that time I was approached by Nathaniel of Time Plots about continuing the posters’ production. If you don’t know Time Plots, they are the glorious intersection of government, data-vis and posters. Seriously, that is all they do, and they are the best at it. I knew the annual Death and Taxes project would be a natural fit there.
So starting with the 2014 edition of Death and Taxes and going forward, Nathan and his crack team will be handling all development and production of the poster. I have a few of the new posters myself and they have already innovated on the concept and design. The Death and Taxes project is an exercise in transparency, accessibility and design of the most important document the federal government puts out each year.
It is also solely supported by sales of the poster, so I encourage you all to support the Death and Taxes project buy purchasing a poster this year. Your walls will thank you, and so will I.
The 2014 poster.