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World Renowned Graphic Designer Creates Meaningful Infographics

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Nigel Holmes made his way to New York from England in 1978 bringing with him an amazing ability to tell stories and make them meaningful – not through narrative but through infographics.

Holmes appeared recently in Athens at the annual Schuneman Symposium on Photojournalism and New Media. He talked about allowing humor in information graphics. He shared his views with WOUB’s Tom Hodson.

As a young man he studied illustration at the Royal College of Art in London but he decided that instead of being a typical illustrator that he wanted to tell stories through info graphics.

Holmes defines infographics as combining data and facts but displaying them in a visually captivating way using illustrations. He asserts that really good infographics heighten the average person’s ability to understand and comprehend extremely complicated systems and data sets.

When he first arrived in America, he served as the graphics director for Time Magazine but in 1994, he founded Explanation Graphics. His company has done work for clients like American Express, The Smithsonian Institution and United Healthcare.

His work also has appeared in Scientific American, National Geographic, and the New York Times.

In 2009, Holmes received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for News Design.

He is the author of eight books on informational design, including: Wordless Diagrams, The Book of Everything (using information graphics to explain how to wear a kilt, how to deliver a baby in an emergency among other things), and Instant Expert (2014).

This fall, his book, Odd, will hit the bookstores. It is a book explaining weird competitions and festivals around the world – using infographics, illustrations and designs instead of written narratives
Holmes also uses animation to explain complicated concepts. He and his son Rowland Holmes have made animations for TED conferences, Fortune magazine conferences, Good magazine and the National Geographic Society.

Currently, some of Holmes’ work is on display in the First Floor Gallery at the Schoonover Center on the Ohio University campus.