This project fulfilled a data visualization assignment for an Introduction to Graphic Design course at Boston College. I chose to utilize the robust, free database compiled for the public by the National Parks System to visually demonstrate ebbs in monthly visitation shortly before and during the COVID-19 pandemic at various parks.
Exploration for this project began with the core problem of presenting data in a clear and interesting way. A variety of graphic tools were explored including line graphs, bar graphs, and repeating symbols to determine which system would be best for getting the data's key messages across. Through these simple explorations, I determined that the line graph best demonstrated changes in total population from month to month with its obvious and eye-catching bell curve. However, I felt that the design could be pushed further to increase visual interest. One solution was to turn the y-axis into concentric circles, aptly imitating geological maps and forming a compass shape with horizontal and vertical cross sections. Vintage-inspired art from the internet became a placeholder for the poster-like presentation starting to take shape.
The project aims to aesthetically combine the artistry of vintage National Park System marketing assets with clear, interesting data. Therefore, the concept of demonstrating population volume through area was carried through from initial exploration to show at a glance general volume of visits to each park. The simplicity of the initial design was iterated on to include population variation not only via month, but via year — an interesting facet of the data afforded by form. Additional parks were included as separate documents using the same scale to maintain the vintage, poster-like quality of each design while enabling side-by-side comparison. Simple, original illustrations with limited earthy color palettes aim to draw compliment data without distracting from key messages with complicated textures or shapes. Each illustration correlates to the natural landscape of the specific park, while also aiming to work seamlessly together as a collection.