Stefanie Posavec moved from Denver, Colorado to London, UK for to complete an MA in Communication Design (Central Saint Martins) in 2004 and never went home. With a background in book/book cover design and text visualisation, she now mainly works as a designer with a focus on data-related design, with work ranging from data visualisation and information design to commissioned data art for a variety of clients. Her personal work often explores ideas of data craftsmanship and focuses on the visual representation of language, literature, or scientific topics. This work has been exhibited internationally at galleries including at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Victoria & Albert Museum, and Somerset House (London).
HPL: How do you go about translating language, literature and science into visual representations in your work?
Stefanie Posavec: I choose to work with topics that I find interesting and then through exploring those subjects, I discover patterns of data that I think are intriguing and that should be visualised in order to highlight these patterns for a new audience. I try to create visuals that not only visualise data but also communicate more subjective, emotion messages about the subject matter as well in order to move much of my work from the realm of data visualisation into something that I call ‘data illustration’, which still upholds the integrity of the data while also aiming to create an emotional connection with the viewer.
HPL: What recent changes regarding books do you find interesting in the field of information design?
Posavec: In the context of my personal interest of text visualisation, I would say that just the digitisation of more texts has been the most impactful change, and I say this because my creative practice and working process has been greatly influenced by not having access to digital texts at the beginning of my career, but having to gather data by hand in a very analogue fashion: this handmade approach has filtered down through much of my work. Now it’s easier to access digitised texts, so if I started my career today I’m sure my creative practice would be completely different, and produce different aesthetic results.
HPL: Are there any specific topics you came across lately in your work that relate to our conference on post-digital scholarship?
Posavec: I’m currently working on a project that explores and illustrates the basic tenets of open data in an accessible way, for the general public. While I admit I’m no open data expert, searching through data stores has made me excited about how these datasets can have the potential to be used in other ways besides only for commercial or academic intents, but perhaps could be used as a raw material for design or art. I’m interested in using data to create meaningful designs and aesthetics that are implicitly connected with the subject they are trying to communicate.
HPL: Which book will you always have as an analogue copy in your bookshelf?
Posavec: Can I have two books?
The Elements of Typographic Style: Robert Bringhurst
Book Typography: A Designer’s Manual by by Michael Mitchell and Susan Wightman
These two books are the most useful design books I’ve ever owned, and I continually refer to them.
Read on Tuesday: Our introduction interview with Dr Julianne Nyhan, assistant Professor in Digital Information Studies in the Department of Information Studies, University College London.