52. Eddie Opara

Partner of Pentagram, How To Turn Data Into Art

We asked Eddie Opara, an elite designer of infographics, to create a visual about how he works. "This is a library of infographics," he explains upon delivery. "Too often, people start with a pie or bar chart, but you have to understand the content and patterns in data before throwing images on paper." This fall, he created an award-winning book of infographics to serve as a guide to water conservation for New York City's Department of Design and Construction, and his global design firm has worked with everyone from GE to the Arizona Cardinals. The how-to guide shown here "is incredibly loose. Beyond step one, sequence isn't as important," he says. Rather, it's zonal: The base is analysis; the middle is scale and scope; and the top is about creating accessibility. As for the presence of the Pentagram staffers, it's all about setting a mood. "They are not integral to the message, but they don't distract from it," Opara says. "Every infographic needs to express a sense of state, and this one needed to be playful."

Timeline

  • 1997

    Receives MFA from Yale University

  • 2005

    Opens his own design studio, The Map Office

  • 2010

    Joins Pentagram's New York office as a partner, dissolving the Map Office

  • 2011

    Named to Ebony magazine's Power 100 Black American list