Month: August 2016

Soccer-centric (Part 1)


Eight by Eight, an independent soccer magazine, is the brainchild of ace designers, Robert Priest and Grace Lee.


It’s become well-known in the magazine design community for its brilliant page design and illustration. And in 2015, it was chosen as “Magazine of the Year” in the Society of Publication Design Awards. An amazing achievement for an indie mag, produced by a small group of volunteers on a very small budget, to come out on top of all the usual heavy-hitters.

I’m very fortunate to be the consulting graphics director, and thus can occasionally bask in the reflected glory. Here are a few of the infographics we’ve run. I’ll be showing some more in future posts.

Who doesn’t love spectacular volleyed goals? For the first issue, I imagined that I was at a game and saw all of these gems, one after the other. In fact, they happened over a couple of seasons. (Player illustrations by Jeong Suh at Bryan Christie Design.)


The ideas for the graphics usually come from watching games. For example, a player pulled off his shirt after scoring a goal (not an uncommon sight), revealing a crazy tattoo. I starting thinking about other player tattoos I’d seen. After some research, I made a rough compilation (in Photoshop). From there it proceeded to this beautifully illustrated version by Michael Hoeweler.



Referees get a lot of aggro from the fans. At best, we don’t notice them. But what are they up to? I realized that I didn’t really know as much about this as I thought. Note the tongue-in-cheek captions. Soccer fans have a sense of humor about their over-excited reactions to events on the pitch.

Below is an analysis of all the games ever played between Barcelona and Real Madrid. By Catalogtree.


For a guide to the 2016 European Championships, I included some handy French phrases, stadiums, and tourist tips (as France is the most visited country in the world).


I think it’s important to note that the magazine is made by soccer fans for other soccer fans. Enthusiasm for the subject drives the content forward.

One of these woven badges (made by Avery Dennison) was inside every copy of issue 7.






The Unisphere was the centerpiece of the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair, and remains the world’s biggest globe. That’s me underneath it, to give a sense of the scale. Michael Stoll* (who took the photo), later sent me some information about other big globes. And to see how they all compare, I made the simple graphic below. Unlike the massive stainless steel Unisphere, which weighs 700,000 lbs (320,000 kilos), and never moved, they all rotate, or once did. (*Examples from his superb collection of historic infographics will be featured in future posts.)


Some additional information about the Unisphere and it’s rivals:


The three rings represent the orbits of the first satellites. The globe suffered considerable (but fictional) damage in the movie Men in Black when a downed alien spaceship crashed into it. The real Unisphere was restored in the 1990s.


At the headquarters of DeLorme, the GPS and mapping company. Installed in 1998. The largest rotating globe in the world.

Globe of Peace

A wooden framework covered with a fiberglass skin. It can hold about 600 people on three floors, and contains information about every country in the world. Shares the name of a totally unrelated (and considerably smaller) globe in Star Wars, which is a revered relic of the Naboo people.

Babson World Globe

Dedicated in 1955, but fell into disrepair by the 1980s. Restored in 1993, although it no longer rotates.

Daily News Earth Globe

The Daily News lobby was featured in the 1978 movie Superman as the lobby of the Daily Planet. The globe was installed in 1930.


This map of the 1965 New York World’s Fair site, with the Unisphere at it’s center, is on the wall of my office. It was produced by the master cartographer, Hermann Bollmann.




It was a gift from Michael Stoll and some of his students at the University of Augsburg. I love it.

This blog started 35,000 years ago



Cave infographics It all began at least 35,000 years ago. Visual communication was off and running. Perhaps even before the spoken word, although that statement is the subject of considerable debate. I’m guessing that if the cave painters could speak to each other, they probably didn’t use the word “infographic.”  (This example is from Valltorta, Spain.)


Pyramid Schemes Jump forward 28,000 years or so, to a written language based on pictograms. Modern decoding didn’t begin until 1899, with the discovery of the Rosetta Stone (dating from 196 BC), which displays the same passage of text in hieroglyphs, Demotic script, and Greek. It was the key to understanding the exact meaning of the symbols.


Illuminations Illuminated manuscripts were produced mainly in monasteries during the early Middle Ages. By the 14th-Century, they were mostly produced by commercial scriptoria. Exquisitely decorated, sometimes with gold and silver (hence illuminated), and worth shocking amounts of money today. They contained plenty of diagrams. The development of printing signaled the end of these masterpieces.


1490: Leonardo Who? A Florence-based infographics director set the bar for the next 526 years. The Vitruvian Man is based on the ideal human proportions as described by the Roman architect Vitruvius, who specified them as the principal source of the proportions used in classical architecture


1543: The Earth is Apparently Not the Center of the Universe Nicolaus Copernicus figured out that the planets orbit the Sun, and made this diagram to demonstrate it. The book that contained it, Dē revolutionibus orbium coelestium, was not published until just before his death. To say it was a controversial viewpoint is somewhat of an understatement. A Catholic Church ban, that started in 1616, lasted 219 years.


1570: Location, Location, Location Abraham Ortelius published the first modern atlas: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World). A collection of 53 maps by various cartographers.


1704: From Newton to Pink Floyd Issac Newton’s diagram in Opticks explained the spectrum of light. 269 years later, a variation of this idea became famous as the cover of Pink Floyd’s mega-selling album Dark Side of the Moon. Curiously, Newton would have looked at home as a member of the band.


1786: “Honey, I just invented the fever chart!” William Playfair gave us the bar chart and fever chart, and the curse of boardroom presentations, the pie chart (in 1801). An internet search for “pie chart“ reveals endless scary examples. Try it.

John Snow's cholera map of Soho

1854: Disease Control Dr. John Snow located a water pump as the source of a cholera epidemic in London, by mapping the locations of deaths from the disease.


1859: Tree of Life The only illustration in the first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species was an infographic that outlined the process of natural selection.


1869: Chart of Death Napoleon’s disastrous 1812 trek to Moscow and back was powerfully visualized by Charles Minard. The width of the path represents the number of surviving troops. It’s considered an infographic classic, especially by academics.


1931: Underground Diagram The style for every subway map in the world is directly descended from the work of a British technical draughtsman, Harry Beck.


1935: Pictogram Pioneer Otto Neurath’s system of pictograms, Isotype  (International System of Typographic Picture Education), has had a profound influence on graphic design, and still looks surprisingly modern today. (Founded in 1935.)


1953: Double Helix The first diagram of DNA, published in the scientific journal, Nature. Infographics don’t get much more important than this. Michael Crick and James Watson discovered the DNA model. (The discovery of DNA itself occurred much earlier.) The first visualizations were drawn by Michael Crick’s wife, Odile.


1972: Infographics for Aliens If extraterrestrials ever get to see any of our infographics, this will probably be the first one. Carried on two Pioneer spacecraft (launched in 1972 and 1973), it shows some basic details about the human race and plots our location. Pioneer 10 is currently at least 11 billion miles out into space.


1980s/90s: OK, Computer Infographics went digital, and the tools changed dramatically. MacDraw, MacPaint, Illustrator, Photoshop. It was all happening.



Now: Multi-Platform/Big Data There’s a crazy number of presentation options, so infographics need to work effectively in multiple digital formats. “Mobile-first” is the mantra of many organizations. And then there’s Big Data. Intriguing data sets are everywhere, and everyone is looking for ways to find the truths within them, then present those revelations visually. That’s the challenge, and it will frequently be the subject of this blog.