Black and White Maps

Rarely do I have criticism for infographics or pieces published by the New York Times, and admittedly this time I no longer have the original. However, in May, the Times published a map that was printed in black and white in their paper. I could not make heads or tails of what the map was attempting to say. I later found the online (and full-colour) version of the graphic. Because I no longer have the paper on me, I took the image and then discarded the colour information to simulate the effect.

Comparing colour to black-and-white, link to the colour version
Comparing colour to black-and-white, link to the colour version

One must always beware of the ultimate use of their designed work, be it an infographic or something else entirely. If one designs for digital, online display, he or she can rest relatively assured that colour will be available for their piece. However, in a black and white print environment, the colour here in a divergent palette fails to communicate the split between increases and decreases in aquifer levels. I would have expected a different palette or the use of patterns for the print version of this story.

Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times Graphics Department

Author: Brendan Barry

I am a graphic designer who focuses on information design. My day job? I am the data visualisation manager for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. (This blog is my something I do on my own time and does not represent the views of the Fed, blah blah blah legal stuff.) And with my main interest in information design—be it in the shape of clear charts, maps, diagrams, or wayfinding systems—I am fortunate that my day job focuses on data visualisation. Outside of work, I try to stay busy with personal design work. Away from the world of design, I enjoy cooking and reading and am interested in various subjects from history and geography to politics to science to the arts. And I allow all of them to influence my work.

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