This infographic is by Ben Willer, titled “The Love of Guns.” It represents the civilian firearms per 100 people, and the homicide rate per 100 people. During his research, Ben noticed that the United States has an extremely high rate of firearm ownership, however the homicide rates in the US are far lower than a multitude of poorer countries. Places such as Latin America and Africa have some of the highest rates of homicide, even though they are on the lower end of the gun ownership scale. Therefore, the question Ben is posing with this infographic is: Do guns make for a safer or more perilous world? He doesn’t seek to answer the question, but rather to incite curiosity and thought within the viewer.
This infographic is absolutely stunning. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and almost looks like a piece of art that should be hung rather than an infographic about guns (Although, I suppose it could be both). It’s extremely complex in its visuals – yet not overwhelmingly so – and its radial nature and thin line weights give it an airy and ethereal appearance. I love how everything has a circular or radial form, until the very center where we find this amazing network of webbing. The light colors pop against the dark background, the typefaces choices are excellent, the long length of the infographic is unique…Visually, I love it all. However, apart from the visuals, I’m struggling to find much else to love.
I wanted to love everything about this infographic, I really did. However, I cannot for the life of me figure it out, and I can’t help but wonder if I’m missing some sort of key or vital information. I can easily understand that Honduras has the highest something – but what? Does it have the highest rate of civilian firearms per 100 people, or the highest homicide rate per 100,000 people? Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t think there’s any information on the infographic that would help me distinguish this. I’ve figured out that each color represents a region (Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, and the Americas), however I don’t understand what the dots along the semi-circles are telling me. I can decipher that, for example, Poland is in Eastern Europe – but the position of its dot doesn’t hold any sort of meaning. Is it telling me something about guns, or homicide? There are no numbers nor any sort of key cluing me in.
I’m frustrated with this infographic, because of how amazing I think its appearance is and because of how confusing I think its narrative is. I want so badly for it to be understandable, and for it to tell me a story, but it simply doesn’t – and unfortunately, that’s not a sign of a good infographic. Infographics should be easily understandable, telling the viewer information in an accessible manner. I could read up on firearm ownership and homicide rates quicker than I could decipher this image.
Willer, Ben. The Love of Guns. Ben Willer, 2013. Web. 14 Feb. 2017.
This infographic was developed by the creatives at BETC Paris, a French advertising agency, for the French cable channel Canal+. It’s one out of five in a campaign (others include “I Want to Make a Short Film,” “I Want to Make a Horror Film,” and “I Want to Make an Action Movie), and was commissioned by Canal+ to show their support for the film industry. For the purposes of this blog post, I’ll be focusing only on “I Want to Make an Animated Movie.”
I wanted to focus on this infographic in particular because it was the one that initially drew me in – I’m pretty sure it was the gorgeous pops of color, but I’m also a sucker for thin line weights and mixed typeface choices. The icons are absolutely beautiful, and even though they vary in line weights and fills, their colors, sizes, and styles make them semi-consistent (for example, the “ok” versus the “yes” versus the “no” – they’re all different, but you can tell that they belong within the same infographic because of their consistent size, color, and typeface. Same goes for the hedgehog versus the walking man). However, this starts to become a problem, because I could say the same for almost every design choice that was made in this infographic: The line weights are different throughout (dashed, thin, extra thin), but you can tell that each line belongs in this infographic because of its color/orientation. The typefaces are different throughout, but you can tell that each block of text belongs in this infographic because of its color/size/etc. And so on, and so forth – can you begin to see the problematic pattern? Yes, this infographic is beautiful, and yes, it all fits together in a visually pleasing way, but the slight inconsistencies create a big issue for the overall understanding.
The first issue is that there is no color codification. The red, blue, and black look nice together and create a nice balance throughout – however, there seems to be no rhyme or reason for when and where each color was used. Red doesn’t mean any certain thing, nor do blue or black. This makes navigating through the infographic much harder, because seeing red, blue, or black doesn’t automatically clue me in to anything specific about what I’m seeing or reading. The second issue is that there doesn’t seem to be any pattern to the typeface choices, and while this might look nice, it also creates a barrier to easily navigating the infographic. The script font is used in a headline, in an icon, in a title, and in a question (as are all of the other fonts) – so I can’t associate a specific typeface with any specific type of information, which for such a complex infographic is quite a hindrance. The last issue is that the line weights and colors are also too inconsistent. Again, they look great, but there’s no meaning behind whether the line is thick, thin, dashed, red, black, or blue. It would be helpful to have each type of line leading to a specific kind of information.
Overall, I think that this infographic accomplished its purpose. Its design could be improved; however, it certainly gets across the point that “shooting a film isn’t that simple.” It accurately shows the complexity of creating an animated film, and does so with a unique humor that makes me excited about navigating through its entirety.
BETC Paris. “I Want to Make an Animated Film.” Visual Storytelling. N.p.: Gestalten, 2011. 213. Print.