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Data Artists - Crafting Data Sets into Works of Art
By Aditi Bhat
To be an intelligent data driven company, you need to have a great data science team on board. This is why there is such a huge demand for data science professionals in India and across the world. A good data scientist can provide the right information that a company needs to grow. This information is found from collecting plenty of data, cleaning it and putting it together to make sense of it all.
The problem is that data is not always easy to understand; especially for a lay person who doesn’t have more than basic context on the information he/she is looking for. Although a data scientist collects, cleans and organizes data, it is not always in their job description to make it completely comprehensible for the common folk. So, how can one get simplified data that they can make sense of? This is where Data Artists come in.
Who is a Data Artist?
A Data Artist is one who has the skills to understand the data, decide on what data is most important and figure out a captivating visual way to represent this data to everyone. They use or create new visual means to convey the data that they gather. They provide comprehensible and unique insights solely through the way they represent the data and this is no simple task.
What sets Data Artists apart?
Much like a data scientist, a data artist also has to be able to understand the business requirement, gather and filter out data accordingly and then present it. They do not represent data as reports full of figures and factoids; rather, they use their creativity to tell a story with their data. A Data Artist can paint an aesthetic and comprehensive picture with the data they possess. Their ability to creatively portray their data in a simple yet captivating manner is what sets them apart from the rest.
Data Artists are gaining as much popularity as pop-icons and what brings them the fame is their visualization game. For instance, Jennifer Daniel, a Data Artist who studied Soccer announcements across different geographies, did not represent her study through a bar graph. She used sound and simple colours and illustrations and turned her insights into an interactive infographics. The graph contained a simple insight under the commentators’ actual sound clip.
Another popular Data Art is Elijah Meeks’ representation of W.E.B Du Bois’ African-American demographic report from 1890. He breaks down complex data into lines and spiral data patterns that are colour coded for the demographics and presented simply.
Data Artists and the future of Data:
According to Jim Sterne, the co-founder and Board Chair of the Digital Analytics Association, a data artist has a very key role to play. He said “A Data Artist is responsible for delivering fresh insights from data to help an organization meet its goals. This is the person who takes the output from decision-support systems and turns it into consumable theories that can be tested and applied to the business.”
The role of a Data Artist is not just to create eye-pleasing graphs and charts, but to tell a story that can create impactful insights and outcomes from the data. The need to change the way we react to data is what brought about the emergence of data artists. Be it an all-encompassing Data Science course or a specialized Big Data Hadoop course, your sense of creativity and your ability to craft your data in an impactful way, will be an integral part of it.
The internet is proof enough that Data Artists are the stars of the hour; some of the most commonly sought and shared forms of information are infographics, because it’s easy to understand, it takes very little time to comprehend and it catches the eye! The popularity of well-represented data is not a trend; visually appeasing information has a history of being favoured over over-populated facts & figures reports. Thus, the emergence of Data Artists is no surprise and it is only wise to assume that the demand for them will only steadily increase.
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