Hello! My name is Jane and I am based in Toronto, Canada. I studied sciences and design strategy. After graduation, I worked at a startup during the day and began exploring my interest in data visualization in the evenings. I later joined Kantar as a Data Design Specialist. Currently, I work as a freelancer in both design and social media strategy.
You can reach me at jane.zhgw[at]gmail.com, or you can fill out the contact form below:
How did you get into data visualization?
It all started when I was studying design strategy and one of my instructors showed me Information is Beautiful by David McCandless. I was shocked to learn that people got paid to make this type of work. I didn’t think about data visualization as a possible career choice until after I graduated. When I graduated, I tried out various professions, like UX design, website design, business strategy and so on. Data visualization was the only one that really stuck.
Why do you make data visualizations?
It’s become part of my life. I look at the world around me and wonder how I can capture the information. I have found that I tend to lean towards understanding human experiences. I’ve created projects about how I learn Chinese, or the number of laughs I hear. I am interested in capturing what we cannot see. These moments are fleeting and I want to document them by visualizing them. There’s something very interesting about how people react to my visualizations. They begin to see something different about life or about themselves. I work to create these shifts in people.
Why the jump from science to data visualization?
As a typical Asian, I thought I was going to work in health care. It’s a stable job and paid well. During my final two years in school studying science, I shadowed a couple of professionals and quickly realized life in the clinic wasn’t my thing. At the time, I wanted to learn how to solve wicked problems, which was why I studied design strategy. The program there led me to data visualization design. Coming from a science background, it helps with understanding how to work with and interpret data.
Over time, I learned I was a maker. I realized that I really enjoyed creating things and this was probably why data visualization became the path I chose to commit to.
What tools do you use to make your visualizations?
I use a mix of Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, MS PowerPoint, and MS Excel. I usually collect and create my own data so I don’t need to use Python to scrape data. If I make maps, I use QGIS with OpenStreetMap. The most important tool is definitely MS Word and post-its. Before I actually design, the concept and the ideas have to be solid. I need to justify the why and the impact I want to achieve. This is where my background in design strategy really helps. Even when I do my own personal projects, I mock-up a brief pretending I am serving a client. I identify target audience and intended effects.