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Engaging the community around this fighting game challenged me to rethink my approach to creating data visualizations


Interviewing RJ Andrews, Alli Torban, Matt Baker, and Ann K. Emery on how they started—and made—their careers in data visualization

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Joceline Kuswanto

I hit a point in my life where I could take my career in countless directions. I left my job in the summer of 2019 and began my venture as a freelancer. I work part-time as a social media strategist while I develop my career in data visualization design. At the end of 2019, I wrapped up a dataviz contract and I started to have doubts. I wasn’t sure if I was any good in this line of work and didn’t know how I could contribute to it. I wasn’t sure how to make this work. I didn’t have the…


How can the ordering experience be improved with data visualization?

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I’ve been committing to a weekly production of Instagram carousels that feature data visualizations. The main reason was to keep flexing my design muscles and build expertise. I can’t get better at something unless I practice. I also wanted to reduce the hesitations I feel when I make something. I am a perfectionist and I have a hard time moving at a consistent pace. When I make something, I am always second-guessing myself and unsure if what I make will turn out alright. My weekly projects are ways for me to achieve multiple outcomes while building my skills and speed.


Image of my desk when I worked at Kantar. I took the photo on my last day there.
Image of my desk when I worked at Kantar. I took the photo on my last day there.
I took this image on my last day (Aug 9, 2019) at my previous job. I cleaned up my desk and was ready to go. It was the biggest risk I took in my life.

It’s been four months since I quit my full-time job to pursue a career in data visualization (data viz) design. I thought I’d talk about what I’ve learned thus far so that others might learn something from my journey. Full disclaimer: everything I talk about in this article is specific to my situation. Consider what I’m advising and if it could work in your own context. My goal is to provide my story; I hope it might help if you are thinking about freelancing.

Why I Started Freelancing

I used to work as a Data Design Specialist at Kantar, a market research company in…


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I was planning a trip a couple months ago and struggled to plan it by myself. Trying to work within a budget, I did a lot of research on things to do, places to stay, and ways to get around. I had to consider many aspects planning this trip and it was very stressful:

- Where to stay - Options for getting around (bus schedules, renting a car) - Top places I should check out - Proximity of destinations - Checking for the best flight deals - Where to eat - Weather of the destination - How much money I…


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The Unzipped exhibit by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) visited Toronto in the fall of 2018. It was a very photogenic exhibit and the pavilion created mesmerizing curves with its rectangular blocks. It was certainly something that was instagrammable and a hot spot for photographers and influencers.

I visited in October and noticed this near the entrance of the pavilion:


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There’s something exciting about receiving the IKEA catalogue in the mail. I would pick up the copy with the intention to just flip through the pages. I then catch myself sitting down and actually looking through it in more detail. Something about how IKEA narrates a new future is very compelling. I find their products to be very interesting because they are usually multi-functional. I remember helping my mom assemble a standing mirror that also acted as a rail which could hang clothes or towels. I was thinking how useful this piece of furniture was and how it hit the…


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How I Started to Learn Chinese as a Second Generation Canadian

I grew up speaking Mandarin with my family and did so from a very young age. Over time, my capabilities in English surpassed Chinese as I spent most of my life reading, writing, and speaking in English. As I got older into my early adulthood, I was interested in developing my Chinese identity. Identity is a topic I think that is constantly being talked about in the discourse on immigration. It is constantly shifting and it doesn’t have a finite answer or shape for everyone. …


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This piece visualizes the length of my TTC journey every morning to work in January 2018.

Commuting to work on public transportation is often very frustrating. It’s unpredictable, I am not in control, and it’s stressful when I could end up being late for work. I can say with certainty that people generally don’t find commuting enjoyable. I remember being amazed at the variance I observed in time it took for me to arrive to work. There were times when I arrived relatively on time, and other times where it was really off the mark. I spend a large part of my day commuting, and I started to wonder how I could express my frustration, in…


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A portion of the full visualization I created. You can see the full one here.

I didn’t have high expectations when I started working for Kantar in the summer of 2017. It’s common to hear that big organizations don’t care about their employees or that people don’t enjoy working there. But to my surprise, I learned that was not the case. One of the first things I noticed was how people interacted with each other. The mundane day-to-day interaction defined the work culture and I saw people throwing jokes at each other, sometimes people were tossing candy around, and I would occasionally hear roars of laughter that would spread out and infect those nearby. Company…

Jane Zhang

Data Visualization Designer. I provide a new perspective on how to see and understand the world. janezhang.ca

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