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Advice for changing career to information design

Dear Mr. Tufte:

As a child I voraciously played with Legos and drew maps, diagrams, charts, etc. of imaginary places, things, organizations, etc. I also had (and still do) have a passion for commercial aviation, which has led me to where I am today as an airport planning consultant. I currently hold a Bachelor's of Science in Civil Engineering, with some graduate studies in air transport systems.

However, I've realized, with a couple of years of work experience under my belt, that I'm really more interested in information design, graphic design, cartography, cognitive art, environmental graphics, etc. Reading about prominent information designers like Paul Mijksenaar (who designed the new signage for New York area airports) has made me re-think about what I want to do. Do you have any advice for a full-time non-design professional like me on what I can do to change my career towards information design? Thank you very much in advance.


Mihir Shah

-- Mihir Shah (email)

Look for opportunities to do information-design work in your current job.

Read some of the classics: Arnheim, Imhoff, McCloud, and so on.

Read my books carefully.

Become skilled in the relevant tools: a high-end statistical analysis/graphics program, QuarkXPress or other page-layout program, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, an animation program.

Take some classes in cartography, data analysis, graphic design, scientific visualization.

Build your own collection of really excellent examples.

-- Edward Tufte

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