A Diagram of YOU
Autochartography: The art of making sense of our messy lives with silly charts and diagrams
Helloooooo DT Grown-Ups Table! Happy Sunday.
Last week’s perspective lesson was epic. Huge congrats to you if you gave it a shot. If you haven’t tried your hand at perspective or shared your drawing yet, it’s not too late. The chat remains open in the substack app. Heads up: from here on out, the GUT chat will be open to subscribers only. The community support in the chat has become a really special and unique place, and I want to be sure it stays that way/doesn’t get spammy/stays supportive. So if you aren’t already a subscriber, now’s the time. I hope you’ll join us. 1
Bonus: the assignment this week is a great way for members to get to know each other.
So let’s do this. This week we’re drawing diagrams. Diagrams of us.
I ❤️ Charts
Since I started drawing seriously nearly two decades ago, I’ve drawn diagrams. Influenced by the diagrams I learned to make while studying social work, I drew them on the train to and from work. They were a fun way to work out the mess in my mind, my feelings, the world. They helped me make sense of things that don’t make sense. Turns out it’s a useful skill to cultivate. Those diagrams ended up being published diagrams in the New York Times, books, magazines and prints. You might recognize some… like the diagrams in the book Salt Fat Acid Heat I made with my brilliant pal Samin Nosrat.
Or the diagrams in Lost Cat that I made with fave-person-in-the-world Caroline Paul.
Or all over the internet.
I make charts because they help make sense of things that are huge and overwhelming and beyond language. Like relationships:
Some of my favorite charts to make are Venn diagrams. 2
By no means do I have market cornered on charts - especially fun Venn diagrams. In her book “Am I Overthinking this”, the brilliant Michelle Rial shares so many fun, relatable Venn diagrams.
And artist David Shrigley made perhaps my favorite Venn of all time:
Clearly we can say some pretty personal, profound or downright silly things with simple charts and diagrams.
A few days ago, I posted some photos from the profile Columbia Magazine did on me/my work on Instagram, including the diagram the Creative Director, Len Small, commissioned me to draw for the article.
The assignment Len gave me: “draw a simple diagram of what you do.”
As I wrote in the text; “Errrr… I can try….”
It was a big challenge. I tried to boil everything I do all down into a few main buckets and a handful of secondary/tertiary actions. It's not perfect and I had to leave out a few things and generalize some others, but it was an awesome exercise that helped me think about what I really DO, as opposed to job titles or products or outcomes…
And yes, I was shaking my fist at Len half the time for “making” me do it3, but it was a lot of fun and I learned some new things about myself in the process.
And on that note, YOUR TURN.