Data Visualization

| Carol Liao

Our library, both physical and virtual, is packed with data visualization inspiration. I think it’s safe to say we’re all data enthusiasts here. This week we’re sharing a few of our favorite resources and examples.

Visual Complexity

Those who are familiar with data visualization are surely familiar with Manuel Lima’s book, Visual Complexity. It is viewed by many as the leading resource for data beautification and a must have in a designer’s library. Visual complexity also lives online as a catalog of network visualizations. A great bookmark for visual and theoretical inspiration. Visit the collection.


Last year I had the pleasure of visiting the folks of catalogtree down in Arhnem, home of Werkplaats Typography, and also where Joris Maltha and Daniel Gross first met. They have been operating as catalogtree and creating data visualizations for both American and Dutch clients since their graduation from the print-based school. Although their work is clearly rooted in programming and digital media, it’s the attention to craft and technique that makes their beautiful silkscreened posters “typically catalogtree”. Their brilliant ways of organizing and displaying data is embodied in their site index, making sifting through their work an experience in itself. Take a look at their collection of work.


This is one of those posters that leaves me itching to get my hands dirty with DIY printing. The combination of the delicate parts of the visualization paired with the beautiful colors produced by the combination of digital and silk screen printing leaves me wondering why all data visualizations aren’t screen printed! See the poster up close.

Nonsensical Infographics

Data is beautiful, and sometimes so is the lack thereof. Designer and artist Chad Hagen created a series of illustrations that seem to be loaded with statistics and information, but a closer look reveals that they are merely shapes and objects arranged into a fantastical illusion of information. He calls them Nonsensical Infographics.


This powerful javascript library has been on my to-do list of things to learn for a while now. d3.js allows you to create web based interactive data visualizations. Tools such as NVD3, dimple, dc.js, and crossfilter are all built on top of d3.js. In case you were wondering, d3 is for data driven documents. Learn more about d3.


A data visualisation platform created by Humanities + Design, a research lab at Stanford University. By simply copying and pasting spreadsheets or uploading tabular data, the site is able to create interactive visualisations of the data provided. The tool allows the user to view information in a map, graph, list, or gallery view. Users can also filter information and see the image update in real-time. A great tool for those who are less tech-savvy.


Sparky is an open source JavaScript library that creates small and simple word-sized graphics, also known as sparklines. Sparklines may be small but shouldn’t be underestimated! As beautiful as the complex visualisations we are used to are, there’s something refreshing and elegant about these minimal visualisations. Take Sparky for a spin.

Tot straks! (See you later!)