Friday, March 30, 2012

More thoughts on M20

I'm starting to quiet down internally about the Malofiej20 awards. As I replay it in my mind I realize I wouldn't have voted differently. It was hard being accused of being biased and judging unfairly. I take these kinds of criticisms to heart.

I'm left with a lot of questions after my experience at M20. How do I vote from an objective point of view? Is it possible? Is it even worth trying to? The actual definition of an information graphic is a moving target. In fact, I've spent most of my career as an information graphics artist doubting whether or not I in fact do information graphics. I now know what I do is in fact information graphics. I explain things.

To be clear, I'm not writing about my fine art now.

I'm a western male, I only understand english. I have strong opinions aesthetically. And I'm judging graphics from around the world. How am I supposed to judge a map produced in China or Brazil? The aesthetics are completely different from my own. Frankly, the chinese characters look ugly to my eye. I grew up in New York. I've read and looked at the NYT my whole life. There's a certain comfort I experience when I see a NYT graphic. Does this make me biased?

I know that the New York Times piece about Guantanamo Bay that won best in show wouldn't have won if it had been in any language other than English or Spanish. What does this say? Do we need a more varied multi-cultural jury? Should there be more explanations written on the pieces that aren't in English?

Juan Velasco, the art director of National Geographic, wrote a beautiful, impassioned email to the judges about his concerns about the state of information graphics. He'll be (hopefully) posting an edited version of it on his upcoming blog. Once it's up I will link to it.


  1. Hi Bryan
    Big fan here. I greatly enjoy your blog and works.
    Great thoughts and insights about graphics. That kind of reflection is what makes Malofiej awards and summit so special. I was at M20 too but didn't have the chance to introduce myself (so hectic)
    anyway. congrats for the blog.

    Javier Z.

  2. Thanks Javier! Really appreciate the kind words. Too bad we didn't meet.


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