When writers hit a block, they read. When musicians get stuck, they seek stimulation by listening to music. It’s the same with any craft. The more you surround yourself with the work of others in your field, the more opportunities you have to learn, be inspired, and channel those influences back into your own work.
For data visualization practitioners, that means looking at inspiring graphics and reading about the creative processes behind them. In other words—spending a lot of time on Twitter and data viz blogs.
Here’s a list of data visualization leaders who contribute to the community on a daily basis.
Alberto Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the University of Miami’s School of Communication and has written two books on data visualization: The Functional Art and The Truthful Art. He shares his favorite books, articles, and own thoughts regularly on his blog. It’s a must-subscribe for anyone looking to surround themselves with data viz thought leadership.
Mona Chalabi is the Data Editor at The Guardian U.S., where she’s covered topics such as gun control, sex, and gender politics. Her Instagram account is a real gem, full of data visualization sketches she’s drawn to make data more accessible. (Heads up: some visualizations are NSFW.)
Andy Kirk’s site Visualising Data is a goldmine of information on the craft. He runs several series of posts:
Consider also checking out Kirk’s new book, Data Visualisation: A Handbook for Data Driven Design.
Robert Kosara has been blogging about data visualization for over a decade. He regularly writes about the psychology of data visualization—such as how rainbow-colored maps are misleading and how humans read pie charts—and comments on trends in the field.
He strives for the articles on his site “to be of value over a longer time period”—and, indeed, they are. The vast majority of his posts are as relevant today as the day they were published. For instance, if you feel strongly about pie charts, Kosara has a trove of articles on the subject:
Kosara has also written several research papers as a Senior Research Scientist at Tableau and a former associate professor. For those who want the TL;DR version, he usually summarizes his findings in an accessible, easy-to-read post.