Why Infographics Matter in Today’s Data-Dense World

November 2016

Robert Pizzo at work

Robert Pizzo at work

We’re in the age of a visual culture and data shows that imagery plays a key role in content marketing. Maureen Joyce recently interviewed Connecticut-based illustrator ROBERT PIZZO to gain insight into his process for creating effective and powerful infographics and why they should be a priority for every company.

You can view Robert’s work at www.robertpizzo.com.

–Maureen Joyce

Sixty-five percent of senior marketing executives believe that visual assets (photos, video, illustrations and infographics) are core to how their brand story is communicated. Have you experienced an uptick in requests for infographics?

Definitely! In the past few years, infographics have become a big part of what I do. It seems like everyone is interested in infographics lately. They’re everywhere.

How did you get from illustration to infographics?

Almost by accident. I was doing a feature magazine illustration for an art director and he complained to me that he also had to run an awful looking chart as part of the article. I told him I could remake the chart in my own style and found that I really liked working on that. After it ran, I started getting requests for infographics.

Why are infographics so important to a brand?

It probably sounds like a cliché, but we really do live in a fast-paced, visual world. An infographic is a great visual way to get a brand’s point across by breaking information down into bite-sized, easily digestible chunks. A picture really is worth a thousand words.

How can infographics be used to promote a company’s brand, products and services?

Endless ways! Articles, ads, blogs, posters, email promotions…you name it. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of presentation work for companies and ad agencies. A client will send me a horrible looking PowerPoint presentation with a jumble of bad clip art and absolutely no cohesive design.

I’ll redesign each slide in [Adobe] Illustrator and give it all a consistent look. When I’m done, it’ll look a lot more like flipping through a sequence of little graphic posters. One thing I love about this is that it is bringing graphic art to a place it usually hasn’t been.

What type of information is best explained through an infographic?

Just about any information, actually. It’s fun to take what would otherwise be dry stats and turn it into something compelling visually that will draw your reader in.

You seem to have a passion for organizing information in a constrained space. Can you tell us why that’s a focus of your work?

It comes from my years of experience as an illustrator on thousands of assignments. Since my clients always determine the available space, I’ve learned to make my design work in any space provided. In fact, I’ve always considered it a fun challenge to work with an odd space. Got an odd space? Bring it on!

What’s your approach to each assignment?

Naturally, I start by discussing with the client what the main gist of the infographic will be. Once all the information is gathered, I’ll put the copy in the desired font and place it all on the art board, loosely to determine how much space I have. If there’s a lot of white space, I’ll know that there’s more room for graphics at this early stage and I can start thinking about that. Unlike my regular illustration work, with infographics there’s no pencil sketching. It’s all straight to digital, so even preliminary versions for the client to see have a very finished look to them.

Tabulating information in an infographic does the thinking for the reader. How do you determine what is excess information?

When there’s a lot of copy it’s important to break the information down to manageable bits or sections, so that the reader is not overwhelmed at first glance. The reader should be able to look at the graphic and immediately grasp what the overall point is.

How do you adjust your style to resonate with different audiences?

Ninety-nine percent of the time, clients are seeking me because they like the infographic style I’ve developed. I reinterpreted the classic information figures and given them my own angular spin.

I had always done icons in my illustration work so I was used to boiling objects down to their simplest, quickest readable forms.

Of course, I can always incorporate a company’s official colors and fonts, which instantly ties the graphics to their brand.

Can you offer tips for novices that may be preparing content for you to illustrate?

I’d say just think about what you’d like to convey to your audience. Prioritize and try to strip out unessential copy because the quicker the read, the easier it is for your audience.

Name a song that best describes your work.

Ha! That’d have to be “Tomorrow Never Knows” (from The Beatles’ Revolver) because, as a freelancer, I never know what I’ll be working on next.