Heads up, Sarah’s speaking!

Gifts literally rained from above during Sarah Slobin's presentation.

Bananas! That’s pretty much the best word I can use to describe the talented Sarah Slobin’s bit on creative approaches to infographics. And when I say bananas, I mean it both in the literal and figurative sense. How so, you ask? Well, from her enthusiastic exclamatory exploits (“I just stepped on a brain!”), to her ridiculous requests to have the room rotate their chairs, and finally to her chucking of candy bananas into the crowd (along with brain and heart-shaped gummies), we all had a somewhat chaotic and educationally rip-roarin’ good time.

One of the main concepts Ms. Slobin touched on over and over during her lecture was the fact that the “center is defined by the edges” when it comes to developing and executing an idea. In this context, the “edges” she refers to often come in the form of self-imposed idea censorship, which can be a real hindrance to ending up at a desirable “center.” Personally, I can totally identify with this philosophy on a multitude of levels, as I feel like I have the most fun and execute my work best when I toss all of my reservations out of the window. “Why the hell not?” is a wonderful philosophy to hold, and some of the most innovative and awesome solutions I’ve seen have been the product of adopting that sort of mentality.

Sarah also went on to suggest that we constantly adjust our and scope in order to find the best possible angle on presenting the information we have. Feeling stuck in the micro? Move out to the macro! Sometimes it just helps to step back away from the computer and look at things in a different light.

After the lecture, I managed to chat with her for a bit and picked up on these quick tips:

  • If you want to start experimenting with work but are also worried about how quickly you’d be able to produce your ideas, start some fun projects on your own time that develop relevant skills! Some of them might actually come in handy when you’re handed a story to work on.
  • Speaking of experimentation, anything that adds to the conversation is a good thing regardless of how “goofy” some people might claim it to be. No matter how crazy you may think the idea is, give it a shot and see how people react. The more your interesting and accurate graphic becomes a part of peoples’ language, the better it is.

All in all, I really really got the sense that Sarah has a blast with her work, and that’s always a very encouraging thing to see. In fact, she even went as far to say that “the one thing [she's] proud of this year is how far [she's] pushed her editors.” Right on, Sarah, and thanks so much for your wisdom!

Oh, and by the way, I just realized that I totally read Sarah’s article on creating successful infographics a couple months ago, which you can find¬†here. ‘Tis a tiny world, ain’t it?

-Matt