Design and aesthetics are not just important for creating memorable and engaging visualizations, they are an integral part of generating and communicating insights.

Alberto Cairo’s book The Functional Art touches on this and highlights the fact that Edward Tufte’s ‘maximum data to ink ratio’ principle should not be taken to an extreme. The Functional Art provides an introduction to graphics and visualization and focuses on how best to use colour, type and other graphic tools to make your information graphics more effective, not just better looking.

Aesthetics are incredibly important to us at Inquiron and we’re always looking for inspiration and ideas. We’ve pulled together a collection of resources including events, notable practitioners and tools that we think are useful when considering the aesthetics of data visualization.

Events and exhibits

Eyeo Festival in Minneapolis brings together a set of creative coders, data designers and artists providing attendees with interesting talks and workshops over four days. Check out some of the videos from Eyeo 2013. Tickets will go on sale (and are likely to sell out) on Monday 3rd February.

Beautiful Science: Picturing Data, Inspiring Insight  at the British Library in London will open on the 20th February. The exhibit will explore how our understanding of ourselves and our planet has evolved alongside our ability to represent, graph and map the mass data of the time.

Science & Art at the Wellcome Collection in London explores how designers and scientists inspire each other.

Ben Schneiderman’s exhibit last year in Maryland showed art based on tree maps. You can learn more about his take on art and data in his interview with data stories podcast.

Keep an eye out for ODI Data as Culture 2014 exhibitions in London, Brighton and Manchester. We’re really looking forward to hearing more about this.


Martin Kryzywinski has a great website with resources, including visualization principles and tutorials, presentations, interesting articles and a huge amount of information.

Stefanie Posavec has been developing ‘artisanal dataviz’-often beautifully hand drawn. She was also interviewed in Alberto Cairo’s The Functional Art. You can view some of her prints here.

Moritz Stefaner refers to himself as a Truth & Beauty operator, he says this is a reaction to the common wisdom that Truth and Beauty must be traded off against each other in data visualizations. He also hosts the DataStories podcast which looks at the broader implications of dataviz. He has some examples of his prints here and on his website.

Jan Willem Tulp – of Tulp Interactive has a great Pinterest page on data visualization.

Giorgia Lupi and Accurat have an amazing Flickr page with loads of inspiring examples showcasing their data visualizations.

Tools and colour schemes

ColorBrewer is a classic diagnostic tool for evaluating the robustness of individual colour schemes.

Gregor Aisch has a great blog on information visualization and data journalism. He pays a lot of attention to colour scales and other aesthetics.

Andy Kirk  has a comprehensive resource list with some really great tools and resources for working with colour on his website.