Great Storytellers, Creative Minds

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, the just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while” – Steve Jobs

I’m seeing infographics on creativity a lot recently and loving it. I’ve always had a bit of a thing about creative minds. How do they work? Is there some magical thing connecting the greatest minds? Is it something different about them? Is mental illness or substance use or some sort of anguish necessary to reach the pique of creative talent? A few of the infographics I’ve chosen might help to give us a little bit of insight. Here are a few of my favourites.

The World’s Greatest Storytellers


Creator: Raconteur
Source: Raconteur survey
Method: Illustrator (?)

Raconteur surveyed website users to find out who they thought were the worlds’ greatest storytellers. It’s nice to see a timeline done in some way other than the default straight line. Using the size of the illustrations as a mechanism to show how popular each was is a nice touch, though not very quantifiable. For example, I can’t tell who is the greater storyteller – JRR Tolkien or Jane Austen. But, I’m not sure it matters all that much,.

The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People


Creator: Podio
Source: Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, Daily Routines blog,  other academic studies.
Method: Illustrator (?)

This one caught my eye because I’ve been looking through the book (Daily Rituals) that was the primary source of data for the graphic. I generally find interactive infovis more appealing than flat infographics, so this one appealed to me, too, because of the small interactive touches they’ve used. If you take a look at the full graphic, you’ll notice that it has tooltips showing more information about each person (the info icon), and describing the use of each section of time in the graph.

Visualising Painters’ Lives


Creator: Accurat & Michela Buttignol / BrainPickings
Source: Unknown
Method: Illustrator (?)

I love this. Actually, I don’t think I’ve seen anything from Accurat that I don’t love. It was developed with BrainPickings. If you’re not familiar with the site, you simply must get familiar with it. Right now. Stop what you are doing and go there. However, be warned. You are headed far, far down a rabbit hole if you do. It’s a wonderful journey, just be sure you don’t have anything very pressing to do with yourself today because it’s not gonna happen once you see all the lovely things this site has for you to explore.

Anyway, back to the graphic. It’s lovely, isn’t it? I like that they’ve used the colours and shapes associated with each painter to create their timelines. The bar graph of artistic periods is helpful as a learning tool, here.

Here’s another one…

Famous Writers’ Sleep Habits


Creator: Accurat & Wendy MacNaughton / BrainPickings
Source: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, Odd Type Writers by Celia Blue Johnson, the Paris Review interviews, various collections of diaries and letters.
Method: Illustrator (?)

This one visualises one metric also seen in the above Daily Routines graphic — sleep patterns of creative people. It seems that book is chock full of visualisation opportunities. This one takes more of an artistic view than an analytical one. It’s not as easy to look at these people comparatively, here, but what it lacks in analytical function it more than makes up for it in beautiful design. Here’s a video showing the fine details.

The World’s Most Inspirational People


Creator: Raconteur
Source: Raconteur survey
Method: Illustrator (?)

I love the illustrations on this one, too, but perhaps my favourite part is the magnifying glass that appears when you hover over the graphic, so you can see the fine details. I wish every infographic had this as I often feel like I’m missing something.

Raconteur surveyed their users to find out who they think the most inspiring people are. Many of the usual suspects made the list, but the most interesting ones for me are the ones I wouldn’t have thought of right away, like Brandon Stanton and Ellen MacArthur.

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