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  • Megan Johanson

4 Data Designers that Make Data Approachable

Data can sometimes feel cold and impersonal, even when the information being shared is very personal. It can be hard to visualize it in such a way that it tells a compelling story. Below are five data designers that I follow on Instagram because their work is extremely engaging and tells a story.

1. Mona Chabali @monachalabi

Mona’s work has a very artistic feel while also communicating powerful data points such as the rising age of homeownership, how marginal taxes work, and the impact of children separated from their parents. Her work is consistently an engaging conversation starter. The visualization below was the first one by Mona I saw and made me immediately eager to see the rest of her work.

Data Visualization by Mona Chabali depicting unequal pay rates by race and gender.

2. Michelle Rial @michellerial

Michelle is an author and illustrator who has a book called Am I Overthinking This? Her work often uses a combination of illustration and real objects to make clever and relatable observations or answer everyday questions such as “Why am I always late?”.

Data visualization by Michelle Rial depicting watermelon popularity throughout the year.

3. Matt Shirley @mattsurelee

Matt visualizes mostly personal, non-numeric data which is sometimes hand-drawn on a whiteboard and sometimes created digitally. He also has a few examples of collecting data himself and turning it into an informative visualization, like the map below. Being from South Dakota I can confirm the South Dakota/North Dakota rivalry.

Data visualization by Matt Shirley depicting each state's least favorite state.

4. Brendan Leonard @semi_rad

Brendan turns his personal experiences and observations into visualizations that speak to a lot of people and will probably make you chuckle. He also has a book available called Chart Imitates Life, if you enjoy observational humor in the format of charts I recommend you check it out.

Data visualization by Brendan Leonard @semi_rad depicting how his dog makes him feel when he leaves and returns home.

I love to see people having fun with data and getting creative in how they depict information and insights. There is so much more to data than stale reports and Excel tables.

Have you come across any examples of truly compelling visualizations that have stuck with you?


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