At first cartooning was just a hobby, but over time I’ve started to discover the utility of a well designed cartoon. The right cartoons can be potent tools for introducing complex concepts, engaging audiences, and sparking discussion.
On my blog I’ve been experimenting with the fine line between chart junk and good illustration design. A topic briefly addressed by Edward Tufte on his website. Here are some tips I came up with to help you avoid crossing the line.
Hot Tip: 95% Concept, 5% Illustration. If you have a great concept, the illustration doesn’t have to be that great. I spend the vast majority of my time on the concept. Check out the following cartoon from my attribution post. Not the best illustration, but the point is made.
Hot Tip: Be Abrupt. Subtlety thrives in other forms of communication. You have a few seconds to capture attention, just say what you want to say. Here’s an example from my What is Evaluation? post.
Hot Tip: Costello your Abbott. Visuals should always complement the point, not simply repeat the point. In the famous sketch, Costello didn’t completely parrot Abbott, and your visuals should not completely parrot your points. Here is an example from my counterfactual series. My cartoon complements David Henderson’s point. They work together.
“Outliers do not make for compelling client testimonials. Use your metrics to identify what the average experience in your program looks like, and get testimonials from people who fit this profile.”
Hot Tip: Push the Limits. Cartoons give you a certain latitude to go over the top. When used wisely, pushing the limits can spark great discussion. Here is one of my early cartoons from a post on how to not really evaluate.
Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.