Visual Story Telling | Data Visualization | Graphic Design

Its been 20 years since my first informational graphic was published in the pages of The Northwest Herald. Since then I have worked for numerous papers with numerous people at first for print and, later, for digital platforms. My career would take me to the nation's newspaper, USA TODAY. Throughout that time the one thing that never changed was the art of telling a story visually.


Telling the story through visual media has been a passion of mine, whether its charting numbers to show a trend, showing where a news event happened and complex conceptual ideas.


Over the span of my career I tried to evolve my skill sets while the field of graphic design evolved around me.  My first introduction to 3D was Adobe Dimensions back in the early 90’s. I had the opportunity to work at The Times of Northwest Indiana where
I started utilizing early JavaScript and gif animations to produce graphics for the paper’s Website. In time I would learn about Flash graphics, HTML5, CSS and more sophisticated 3D programs like Strata or Lightwave. No matter the tool, what was most important was to produce clean, accurate and concise graphics.


As I evolved as a graphic artist, I also evolved as a journalist. I have written columns and have been a video game reviewer. I learned how to work a newscene and interview witnesses. Being part of a team working in the field where I could make sketches of the scene or listen for that one key element that would turn into the main element of an informational graphic.


I was able to merge the creative process of being a graphics person with being able to understand and write code such as Javascript or Action Script. I learned from peers about XML and data feeds.


Lastly, why is there an apple on this page?


Before the words visual storytelling or informational graphics, there was simply imagery. You see the image of an apple, your mind thinks…apple. It forms the relationship to other possible meanings like corporate brands or symbols related to the image of an apple. You see the word apple, your mind pictures what one looks like.


That is the foundation of visual storytelling at its core concept. If the reader or user has to think too hard to understand the graphic, the graphic has failed to tell the story.


Why is there an apple on this page?

A cryptic reference to a tech company?



Content Copyright 2013 Robert W. Ahrens

Visual Storytelling | Data Visualization | Graphic Design