Infographic Evolution

Telling literal stories and conveying information through visual representations has been going on for millennia. Cave paintings in places like Spain and France that date back tens of thousands of years were some of the first examples. At that point, using drawings to convey a story was not a luxury, but instead a necessity in societies that had not yet developed written language. To other civilizations like the ancient Egyptians, these visual pictographs became the written language, and coated the walls of their tombs and temples.

Egyptian Hieroglyphics

As the written word took hold, the visual infographics fell by the wayside, used more for artistic pursuits then to help convey large amounts of information. Graphs came storming back in the world of mathematics, where the complex relationships between different variables were more easily modeled in a visual rather than algebraic format. Many of the graphs and charts we intuitively understand including the line graph and the pie chart were developed at the turn of the 19th century by William Playfair, a Scottish economist.

William Playfair

The use of these graphs to tell stories, and not simply to present information, still took a while to catch on. Peter Sullivan, a graphic designer and journalist for The Sunday Times in London in the 1970s and 80s, first pioneered the use of infographics in modern media. At that point, designing and producing a graphic was a serious undertaking. Final proofs were commonly hand drawn and hand measured; only professionals could hope to produce a polished piece.

As media, business, and every other facet of our society has moved onto computers and online, the possibilities and capabilities of infographics has greatly expanded. Digital tools like Illustrator or InDesign have made it possible to construct these graphics on a computer screen, with all of the accuracy of a pen or pencil. Media outlets have moved beyond simply presenting information and gone towards interactive displays, where the user can be guided through a long process step by step or manipulate the data presented how they like.

Maga Design uses these tools to continue the development of what an infographic can represent. Maga’s maps show sophisticated processes of a complex business model, the path of a product, or a strategy to pursue in packages that are dense in information but intuitive to understand. Our maps do what infographics have always done best, presenting information and telling a story, from the big picture down to the specifics, in an attractive and easy to understand format.

Graphics have come a long way, from buffalo scratched on the inside of walls, to the modeling of mathematical systems, to making complex issues and processes easy to wrap your head around.

The History of Infographics

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