Anna Wiederkehr

"We’re all trying to find the best medium, method and voice to communicate"

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Anna Wiederkehr is a designer with a background in journalism and data visualization. She is currently a Visual Journalist at FiveThirtyEight in New York City. Previously she led the Graphics Team at the Neue Zürcher Zeitung in Switzerland where she established a public and uniform visual language for data-based graphics through the merging of the print and digital products. She holds a Masters in Design from Zürich University of the Arts where her research focus was on Emotion Visualization.

Your definition for “infographics”
Data —or information— based visuals which serve to guide a reader or viewer through complex subject matter or provide contextual information around a topic.

Which are your obligatory references?
I don’t think there are any references that are “must know.”

How is your work process?
Process is actually my favorite part of working in visualization. Of course, I learn a lot about whatever subject matter I’m working it and at the same time I learn about my craft and how best I work with others. As a someone who works in news, it’s also a really nice to share a glimpse of what our corner of the industry looks like.  
Since I already share a lot of my process work on the internet, I’ll let that speak from itself here:

This is a really good example of how data journalism can be done in a day and be well received. I’ve also had the opportunity of working on longer term pieces where working with experts heavily influenced my work.  

Here a linguist:

And here environmental scientists:



How was your first “immersion” in this fascinating world of visualization?
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to assist and volunteer during the first Visualized conference in New York City back in 2012. The design studio I was working in at the time also shared a space with Accurat. I was very accidentally and organically exposed to many really amazing people in the more modernized dataviz field and I am lucky to have some of them mentor me until I became a practitioner myself.

Do you have any particular goal to face in 2020 interns of visualization?
I spent the last couple years developing and implementing a visual language at the Neue Zürcher Zeitung which was a very intense experience. This year I’ve completely switched gears (and jobs!) and look forward to spending less time shepherding and more time learning and challenging myself as an individual in my craft.

What kind of data or information do you dream about visualising in a graphic? 
Unquantifiable data has sort of been my schtick for a while but it’s not really about visualizing it – believe it or not – it’s about how visualizing it can help us think and talk about it. Obviously, emotion is an easy one and so is “the human experience.” Our perception has everything to do with how with move in the world around us and how we process our perceptions has always been something I like bringing to the forefront in my own mind. I feel like I’ve just had a baby epiphany answering this question: visualizing the process of essentially anything is fascinating to me. Process sort of brings everything full circle.

Graphics departments at newspapers are evolving. Now they work on more complicated, polyhedric assignments, including different tools and narratives. More than a traditional piece of graphics… from this trend? Where our craft is focusing at?
Oh I hope we’re not focusing on anything yet. Technology, for example, evolves so quickly that all we need is the space and time to explore it. Otherwise something more interesting to me is that our corner of the industry has widely different audiences even among each other. I think we’re all trying to find the best medium, method and voice to communicate to our readers/viewers. I do hope though, that the work we do can be a little more conscious about the types of people we’re speaking to and moreover who we want to be addressing in our work.

Would you dare to say this is not a graphic or this is a graphic? Could you define a clear line?
Why? I’d much rather try and make a judgement call on whether something is useful to a user, viewer or reader. Whether someone takes value in the form of delight or information is much more relevant to me than the categorization of the thing they’re experiencing.

If you weren’t a graphics girl, you’d be a…
I’d almost exclusively rather be in the mountains than in front of a computer.

What are we going to find in your speech in Malofiej?
A lot of feelings.

What do you think?