diversity and inclusion, graphic design, infographics, visual instructional design

Infographics and CARP Design Principles: A Case Study

Like most recovering English Lit nerds, I get heart palpitations whenever I encounter an infographic that not only celebrates my favorite creative types but teaches me something new about them.

I call this masterpiece “Recovering English Lit nerd upon discovering a new literary infographic.”

One of the best infographics on the subject is RJ Andrews’ “Creative Routines”, published on Info We Trust and thumb-tacked to many a cubicle wall in humanities departments across the globe.

Detail of “Creative Routines” by RJ Andrews.
[complete version here]

This infographic – simple in aesthetic yet chock-full of tidbits – perfectly encapsulates the four key principles of design collectively referred to as CARP: Contrast, Alignment, Repetition, and Proximity.

Here’s where “Creative Routines” gets CARP right:

Contrast:  Andrews’ use of text, size and color makes the creative figures’ names and daily activities pop. When you look at this infographic, your eyes follow a natural flow. You can lean in for details if you like, but the contrasting titles and colors make it possible to get the gist in a single glance.

Alignment:  Built within a 3-by-6 grid, this infographic has a simple alignment that utilizes white space and patterns to produce a clean, uncluttered appearance.

Repetition:  Andrews repeats font sizes, typographical emphasis, and color swatches to effortlessly guide us through names, dates, and activities. The combination of contrast and repetition makes it easy to compare one creative figure to another.

Proximity:  The information for each creative figure is grouped in its own cell, making this configuration clear, orderly, and eminently skimmable.

Much as I adore the design of “Creative Routines”, I’d be remiss not to mention its blaring content misstep: creativity is not restricted to a bunch of dead white dudes plus Maya Angelou.

Pro tip: How NOT to incorporate diversity into your infographic.

Numerous PoC and/or female creative-types could have been included without jeopardizing the infographic’s simplicity.

As a start, I suggest swapping out Thomas Mann (while I do love me some Death in Venice, the graphic has four other Germans who are more familiar to your average global citizen) for Virginia Woolf (another Modernist with a well-documented daily life and a penchant for walks.)

Dead white dudes are just a sliver of the creativity pie – it’s a shame this infographic doesn’t reflect that.

Say it isn't so!
The world according to “Creative Routines”: perhaps not the most accurate representation of creativity distribution throughout homo sapiens sapiens.

Related Reading
For a similar infographic with poorer design but richer content, check out Brain Picking’s “Famous Writer Sleep Habits and Literary Productivity”.

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