about this project

The four infographic pieces that follow are about four books that defined or characterized my life at the time I read them. I let the content of the books and the way I was moved by them dictate the format of the infographics. The data I used is the data of my life. It’s all fact, as factual as memory can be.


“...believing every crack in
my soul could be chinked
with a book.



I’m pretty sure the idea for these infographics came from this Barbara Kingsolver quote. Quotes are funny because when you hear one that resonates, you think, “I already knew that.” But someone else said it so much more eloquently. I knew when I read this quote I could do that. I could label the crazy times or intense changes in my life with a book that found its way to me and either helped me get through a hard time or helped shape that part of my life. 


the books


When I got all A’s, or didn’t talk too much in class (rare), my reward from my father was a brand new Goosebumps book. By his bed, in his car, in the bathroom were 3-4 books he was in the middle of reading. It was through his love of reading that I adopted mine. To this day I can rub the corner of a paperback between my thumb and forefinger and see him nodding off next to me, trying to read a Grisham novel. Goosebumps books were scary, dark, humorous and twisted and they got me through my very own twisted childhood.


After my father passed away, I asked alot of questions about life and death. The only answers I got were different versions of “pray about it” or “go to church.” So I did that - very intensely for about seven years. I was baptized in a few different churches that year. I went shopping for a church and spent time in each one, with the people there, trying each one on for size. 

I landed on an Evangelical church, the most fanatic youth group I could find in town. We spoke in tongues, talked to strangers in public about Jesus and had warfare prayer weekly, where we prayed for our fellow heathen students. If the doors were open, I was there. I spoke in tongues, read my bible daily and never once drank, smoke, cussed or fucked for seven years.

It took me two years of traveling on my own to really start questioning my faith. I remember the moment those questions tipped the scale and I couldn’t continue to believe. I was watching a woman in Nepal do a very beautiful puja (religious ceremony). I thought about how my religion says she will burn in hell and I couldn’t do it anymore. I closed the bible that day and haven't opened it since.

Walking away from Christianity was extremely complicated and liberating at the same time. I lost friends, understanding, reality and a pervasive happiness. A good friend told me that eventually I’d find my happy again, but I'd be happy for me instead of for God. He was right. The years that followed were the most thrilling and exciting. I was like a caged bird set free.


the making of this layout

For this layout, I really wanted to try hand-cut paper icons people are making now a days. I tried alot of different colors and icon ideas and ended up with a similar color palette for each icon. I definitely enjoyed this because I worked on the computer to create the icons and then I used my hands to cut out each piece and assemble them into the icons.


a personal puja

After painstakingly following Christianity’s many rules for 7 years, I spent the next 7 breaking all of them. I lost my virginity, smoked weed, drank alot of alcohol and generally enjoyed a debaucherous lifestyle. Jitterbug Perfume was my new bible, guiding me to live life to the fullest, to not look back and to not apologize for my appetites and desires. My heart was set free; this was the best time of my life. The items in this diagram comprise a personal religious ceremony (puja) dedicated to the 7 years I spent living life for myself, traveling through SouthEast Asia.


the making of this layout


Making this layout was easily the most fun I've had as a graphic designer. The combination of physically arranging the many nicknacks I love from Nepal and using the computer and my hands was cathartic.  I flexed almost all my skills on this project and that was great too. I utilized typography, design, photography, lighting, photo editing and art direction to turn this organized chaos into an infographic.  


I started on this layout when I was thinking of applying to Aalto's master's program a few years ago. I did not apply then but this idea kept rolling around in my head. I sketched the typography, vectorized it and then I filled it with something we call tikka in Nepal. It's yoghurt and raw rice. It's used in every religious ceremony and they stick it on your forehead in very messy clumps. I have a hate-love relationship with tikka. 


How To Read It

Using a series of parameters, this is a map of my passions over the years. The large circles at the bottom are passions that had influence over the course of my life. That means I made major life decisions based on going to Nepal, traveling, women, etc. The smaller circles each represent one relationship during the time that passion raged through my life. 


"What choice have I in the face of this wind but to put up sail and rest my oars?" 



I've spent quite a bit time on the back of a motorcycle riding through the electric green mountains of Nepal, camera in hand and guitar on back. We would drive about three hours to the next village where we would meet local people, smoke local weed, eat local food that had Kathmandu-reputation and then get back on the bike and drive 3 more hours through cold misty rolling hills and sticky hot dirt roads dotted with banana trees.  

I learned how to stop asking questions that didn’t matter. Questions like ‘where are we going’ (many places didn’t exist on a map), ‘what time will we get there’ (no one is actually on time in Nepal), ‘how long will it take’ (let‘s be honest, you haven’t had to be anywhere in months). I told myself, “I could love anyone, live anywhere and do anything if I could just be in a different country than the US.”

The Passion spoke to the extremes in me. From living a chaste Christian life to what I would call a pretty debaucherous one, from trying to love men to realizing loving women made more sense, from surviving in lower Alabama to thriving in South East Asia, I’ve cultivated extremely different passions over the years. When they come to me, I follow them and allow myself to put up my oars and see where they take me.


print version

Download a copy of the print version of this project below. Thank you!