Inspiration From FITC Toronto 2010

For the past few days I have been in Toronto, Canada for the Flash In The Can (FITC) conference. Throughout the 3 days, there were a few talks that really got me inspired and a few in which I fell asleep. Below I shall give you some details on James White, Scott Hansen, Jer Thorp, and Wesley Grubbs. Be sure to check out their sites and portfolios to see the great work that they do.

Art Inspiration

The first presentation I saw was entitled "Back to the Future" and was by James White, an artist from Halifax, Nova Scotia. I didn't know who James White was, but thought the description for his talk was the most interesting for what was offered in that time slot. It was about 5 minutes into the presentation when I realized I had been following his artwork for a while online and just didn't know his name. He owns and runs Signalnoise Studio and is often shown on Abduzeedo. James' talk was about how he drew inspiration from his childhood interests like heavy metal. It was great to see his progress throughout his career as he developed his own unique visual style. I highly recommend you take some time and check out his portfolio and follow him on Twitter. He's a fantastic guy with some awesome artwork.

The second artist that blew me away was ISO50. I had never heard of Scott Hansen before and seeing his work for the first time made this whole conference worth it. His entire art style is after my heart. His whole style is just amazing. I can't really even describe it, just go check out his portfolio and see for yourself. He's also a musician. I haven't had the chance to check out his music but have a hunch I'll like it when I do.

Data Visualization Awesomeness

The next two people deal mainly with data visualization. This is an area which I'm just starting to get into and seeing these two talks was truly inspiring. It was great to see the behind the scenes work that went into the visualizations created.

The first data visualization talk I saw was entitled "Hacking the Newsroom" and was about using API's like the one the New York Times publishes and extracting data from it to make meaningful data visualizations ... which also look pretty cool. I had never heard of Jer Thorp before this point but will definitely be following his career and work from now on. Using Processing and various API's he creates beautiful and informative data visualizations. These are not your normal simplified visualizations but instead extremely complex so that complex relationships can be shown. Check out his New York Times visualizations and prepare to have your mind blown. Also check out Jer's work on his Etsy Store and there are a few tutorials on his blog.

The second data visualization talk was by Wesley Grubbs. His talk covered how to take large amounts of data and present them in a meaningful way. Normally a data visualization will deal with, on the high side, a few thousand rows of data. When dealing with US election data, Wesley was dealing with upwards of 1.4 million rows of data. He discussed how, when working with such large data sets, you run into issues of how to find a subset of data which is manageable to work with and still accurate. He also showed different iterations he went through to show this data properly before landing on the final design. Check out the resulting data visualization for 2008 Presidential Candidate Donations: McCain vs. Obama. You can follow Wesley Grubbs on Twitter as well.

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