Promoting your own work is tricky business — in this article learn how to build a portfolio, share your work, and build a supportive community

Author’s father and friends enjoying lunch while sitting in a house under construction
Author’s father and friends enjoying lunch while sitting in a house under construction
My father, with his community: the friends who helped him build our house.

My father grew up on a farm in rural Kansas. His father and grandfather were both builders, and growing up on the farm, he gained bits and pieces of experience in building. Later, in his teens, my dad helped with an addition to a family house in Crested Butte, Colorado, and afterward, he figured he had some experience, so he applied for a job as a framer, assuring the boss, “Yeah, I know how to frame a house.” His first day on the job the boss strolled over, inspected his work, and told him, “You don’t know crap.” Then he…


Learning data viz requires doing data viz—here are some tips to get you started

A new learner getting support from their community
A new learner getting support from their community
Illustration by Allison Horst

In my first essay, I touted my status as a “self-taught” designer and developer — this was a lie. Or rather, a mischaracterization, for almost no one is self-taught. Perhaps you can remain truly self-taught if you stick to books — this is how I got my start, and I still recommend this path. Books give you a stable base and an introduction to the terminology, which will be immensely helpful before diving in head first. But eventually you will have to venture outside the confines of books and tutorials, and learn by doing.

As my dad noted about his…


Catching up with the creator of ggplot and tidyr about community, Tidyverse, and what’s in store for R over the next 20 years

On February 29th, 2000, R 1.0.0 was released to the world. At the time, it was a niche language for statisticians; now, over 20 years later, it has grown into a fully-featured programming language that is used by millions of people and has had incalculable influence in the world of data science and visualization.

R, along with Python, is one of the primary languages used today for data science and visualization. It has its roots in academia and is still widely used by researchers across nearly all disciplines, but the reach of R has expanded greatly in recent years. …


Building your data viz portfolio is a lot like building a house, and it all starts with having the right tool set

In 1984, when my parents were searching for their first home together, my dad decided the best solution — given their limited budget — was to build one himself. So he picked up some books, started reading, gathered some friends, and set to work.

My father carving a beam while building our house
My father carving a beam while building our house
My father carving one of the many beams that now make up our house.

Without any formal training, my father managed to design and build a beautiful home, which my parents still enjoy to this day. Growing up, this all seemed normal to me and shaped my mind-set accordingly. I figured if you want to build a computer, then buy some computer parts, read the manuals, and start building. You…

Will Chase

I’m Will, a data visualization designer and developer. Check out my work and other writing on my website williamrchase.com and follow me on Twitter @W_R_Chase

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