Becoming an Information Designer

How did you become a freelance information designer?

Here’s part of my story…

In 2008, fresh out of grad school, I was working for a small nonprofit collecting housing data. At the time, I was testing out visualizing the information we were collecting into snapshot reports. The data dashboards and “infographic” style designs were getting positive feedback, but were only a portion of my workload.

I wanted to do more.

With an undergraduate degree in design and graduate degree in planning and public affairs, I loved the idea of combining design with data and critical thinking. The problem was, no one was hiring for that position at the time.

Elissa 2008 by Stone Arch Bridge near downtown Minneapolis
Elissa in 2008 by Stone Arch Bridge near downtown Minneapolis.

Like any good ambitious 20 something, I decided that was enough reason to go off on my own (in a collapsing economy might I add) to become an independent information designer.

As you can see on the Google Trends graph below, “infographic” wasn’t a popular term in May of 2009 when I started My Visual Voice.

Google trends web search for the word infographic.
Google trends web search for the word infographic.

I found myself spending most of my time explaining to people what an infographic was and the potential benefits of creating one.

Then I came across a little guide, put out by Tactical Technology Collective the previous year. It was called, Visualizing Information for Advocacy.

I fell in love. It was like they had gone into my brain and summarized exactly what I wanted to do at My Visual Voice.

Nearly 10 years later, I continue to work as a freelancer that uses information design to create understanding and advancement of complex issues.

**For Your Toolbelt** I still think this little guide does a nice job summarizing why an organization should care about visuals and information graphics. Read through it to learn more about information design and get ideas for utilizes it to support your advocacy efforts.

Visualizing Information for Advocacy
Visualizing Information for Advocacy