The Secret Language of Comics

Data viz of Excitement and Productivity

For this Sunday Sketch, on a scale of 1-10, I decided to track the five categories: Productivity, Creativity, Excitement, Zen, and Fun. The main reason why I chose these categories is because I wanted to see how my emotions impacted my ability to complete work. I chose to display my data as line graph was to see if there was any correlation between any of the categories. I found that there are some relationships. One example would be the relationship between excitement and fun. On 3/18 and 3/19 I had excitement levels of 8 and 9, respectively, because I was excited to see someone I had not seen in a long time. I saw that person on 3/20, and we did many fun things. That was why my fun level for the day was a 9. Another interesting relationship is between excitement/fun and Zen. 3/22 was a Monday, and I have four classes on Monday, which is definitely a cause of stress. Therefore, on Mondays, I rarely feel calm and my zen level was rather low.

From this ten-day trial, I believe that my emotional state does not have a strong impact on my productivity and creativity. I believe this because there is no correlation between any emotionally based category (excitement, Zen, and fun) and productivity related category (productivity and creativity). If I were to do this project again, I would not change much. If I were to change something, I maybe would be stricter on how I ranked each category each day to give the data more variance. The data for each day will never be perfect because there are so many extra variables to take in account. One example is the amount of work I actually have each day. If I only have one assignment to complete, and I completed then I would think I was rather productive. However, if I have multiple assignments and fail to complete one, I would not consider my day as productive even though I probably did more work.   A change I would make to the data gathering would be to make it even more strict. I think if I had more variance in the data, I would be able to see more defined relationships between the categories. I thought this assignment was especially useful tool because able to analyze trends that are occurring in my life. I am happy to know that my excitement and fun levels are not affecting my productivity.

Sketch 8: Data Viz From Everyday Life

Over the course of this data collection, I wanted to begin to answer how much my schoolwork and life habits affect my overall “satisfaction”/happiness between the morning and the end of the night. I am able to conclude that my mood on Tuesdays and Thursdays are worse than other days of the week because most of my classes are on those days and most of my responsibilities are also on that day. (club meetings, internship meetings, homework due). There is a big drop between april 2nd and the third because I tested positive for COVID and had to go to the hotel for isolation. I dont think I am fully able to answer that question with these data points but it does give me an idea of how my daily habits and the weather affects my mood. To make sure I was able to make accurate measurements of my mood/satisfaction, I set aside 2 minutes to clear my mind before I do my ratings so that I can make a more accurate reflection of my personal mood. These visualizations really showed me that I need to be more careful on tuesdays and thursdays to avoid being burnt out. I think this was a valuable tool for self analysis if I added more variables towards my survey

Data Viz from Everyday Life

I tracked 5 areas of my daily life: stress/human interaction/accomplishment/satisfactory levels and time spent on laptop, to form a graph measuring my overall productivity level. From the graph, I can analyze my overall productivity level, and see what events in my life impacted my productivity. When I was first brainstorming about my data, I was unsure about what to track. Then I focused on a concept that I wanted to analyze for myself, which was productivity. I spent some time thinking about what contributes to my overall productivity, and I came up with the 5 areas.

When looking at the 5 areas, I can see that they are impacted by the events in my life. For example, my birthday was March 28, and unfortunately I had a lot of work to finish that week since my birthday was on Sunday. Therefore, you can see from the graph that the days leading up to March 28, from 21-26, my overall stress level and time spent on laptop increased as I was finishing all my work before my birthday. You could also see my human interaction, satisfactory, and accomplishment levels increased from 27-28 while my other levels decreased. This is because I finished all my work, and spent more time socializing since it was my birthday. Another event that impacted the 5 areas is my bio midterm on April 2. Clearly, on the graph, my stress level went up because I have a midterm that day, but my accomplishment and satisfactory levels also went up because I did well on my midterm. The day after my bio midterm, everything went down because I finished all my work, except my human interactions level because I socialized more.

Overall, from my data graph, I can see that my everyday productivity levels depend heavily on the events or assignments that I have that day. If I were to do this in the future, I would focus on a different category, because productivity is easily affected by other aspects of my life. I would rather do happiness or positivity levels. I also think that if I do this long term, I can discover factors influencing my life that I never knew before.

Am I Loving Myself Enough?

Self-care visual representation

For this Sunday sketch, I decided to track how much I love myself by doing things that are healthy for myself—such as having a good breakfast and keeping up with my nightly skincare routine—and taking time for hobbies/activities that help me relax during my waking hours and give me a break from school, then comparing it to the time I spend doing any type of studying or class work.

Starting this visual data gathering assignment, I wanted to try and manage my time well enough so I could have time for my relaxing activities and therfore create a nice colorful visual. Unfortunately, this past week wasn’t my best and I didn’t have the motivation to bother much—I didn’t even setup my weekly bullet journal spread, which is what helps me stay on track and manage my time. Even though I didn’t successfully manage my time these past days, I usually don’t have much time to relax during my waking hours either when I do actually try, so this visual is at least 50% accurately representative of my standard lack of self-love. To represent my data, I made this circular graph split into 10 bands to each represent a day since March 18. I then split the days into 16 sections to represent the average hours I am awake per day. I then colored in the amount of time I spent each day doing something I enjoyed, such as watching my current favorite K-drama Vincenzo or going outside to view the sunset and take pictures of the sky—each activity is color coded—then the grey shaded area of each band represents time I spent stressing and struggling with school work in any way, shape, or form.

As I mentioned previously, my days already are quite packed with school work even when I am “managing” my time, but seeing data visually represented makes me realize this is not okay; diminishing the focus on my own mental wellbeing and not caring for myself for the sake of trying to focus all my energy towards school doesn’t seem right nor healthy. I need to create a balance between spending energy on school and spending energy and focusing on things that I love and healthy habits for my own good—literally if I was to just get used to having breakfast every morning I’d start off more energized and motivated on a daily. I think this was a valuable tool for self analysis; literally showing me upfront how bad I am at doing things for self-enjoyment without feeling bad about not being productive in terms of doing school work. If I was to continue this project in the future, I think I would switch to creating journal entries at the end of the day to keep track of my happenings before then creating a visual chart representing how I spent the day and what where the things I did for myself and not school.

Sketch 7 – Quadriptych

When thinking of an idea for my quadriptych, I initially had trouble. I was trying to make a story from scratch, and I could not think of anything. Then I started to think about my past memories, and I thought of this idea. As an older brother to multiple siblings, I have seen my parents grow more soft over the years. In other words, they always avoid trouble and get what they want from my parents. Hence, the concept of the comic. In the comic, a boy asks his mom if he could have a gum ball. The mom says no, but the little boy starts crying. After the boy cries, the mom feels bad and buys the gum ball.

Overall, I thought the quadriptych was easier to make than the triptych because the extra panel allowed for more creativity and the opportunity to develop more of a plot. If I would make this comic a triptych, I would not have included the close up of the boys face with the tear. Without the inclusion of this panel, the meaning of the comic would be quite different.

Sketch 8: Human Document

Due: 10/27

Tag: sk8

The British artist Tom Phillips is probably best known for a project that he began in 1966 and which he has continued ever since–he set himself the challenge to buy the first book he could find at a secondhand bookstore for threepence and to alter every page using drawing, painting, collage, and cut-up techniques to create an entirely new version.

He found W.H. Mallock’s A Human Document and combined the words in the title to create A Humument. Phillips not only created new art works from each of the 367 pages but has now completed five different editions of this altered book.

You can view pretty much the complete series of pages on Tom Phillips site here. You can choose pages, view the original and then view different versions of that page.

For this week’s assignment, I want you to create your own visual poem-thing. You can find your own page to alter if you’d like, but I’ll bring in an old used book that you can take pages from too. Think of it as sort of a collaboration between yourself and the book’s original author or think of it as a game where you get to create new text but within the strict confines of the text available on the page.

Obviously, Tom Phillips has been doing this for almost 50 years and I’m not expecting you to produce work that is as polished or complex as his – nor that is necessarily as visually compelling. And it will probably feel very strange to you as you begin, but just let yourself be playful and experiment with your task. You do not need to be a professional artist to make these pages, but you probably do need to be able to relax your desire to be in control of what you produce and you probably need to turn off the self-critical voice that will tell you that you’re doing it wrong.

Alter your page using whatever methods or tools you prefer, then scan the page in color at a high resolution as a JPG or PNG file and load it to your site. You might or might not include in your post the text of your altered page.


Sketch 8: Data viz from everyday life

Due: 4/4

Tag: sk9

When Mason Currey wanted to understand how he could manage to produce more creative work despite the challenges of everyday life, he set about studying how a bunch of other famous creative people organized their daily lives and what routines they established for their own creative work with the assumption that there were valuable lessons there. Daily Rituals was the result of that research — and then a number of different people and organizations have set out to visualize the insights of that book so that we can see larger patterns in the midst of all this biographical information. Podio’s graphic, which is the feature image on this post, is one of those (check out their site for the interactive version)

For this sketch assignment, you will choose one concept in your life that you want to analyze, something that is not already easily and obviously measured, or doesn’t vary within the span of a day or a week (good categories: awesomeness, mindfulness, healthiness, creativity, productivity, and similar … bad categories: number of steps, hours of sleep, caloric intake, how good is my eyesight?). Decide on a set of about 5 categories that you can use to measure that concept in your life and track those categories for a week or more, then you will produce a visualization of the data that you have gathered and use that visualization to help you understand something about your own life that might not be obvious from your own day to day activities.

Tracking Data

If you’re looking for suggestions about what to track, browsing the “quantified self” tag at Lifehacker might be worthwhile.

Once you’ve got categories, create a spreadsheet where you can track those categories throughout the day. Either take notes in a journal or on your phone and enter the results into your spreadsheet at set intervals, or make the spreadsheet in Google Drive and access it from your phone, or use the site Trackthisforme, or install a tracker app on your mobile device (I found some by searching for “quantified self” apps).

In “How to Track Everything in Your Life Without Going Crazy” and “Fill Out This One-Minute Form Every Day and Find Out Why Your Life Sucks (or Doesn’t)” Adam Dachiss has some useful suggestions for measuring stuff in your life. “Why You Should be Tracking Your Habits and How to Do It” by Belle Beth Cooper is also useful. However, all three of those articles are a few years old now and might not be perfectly applicable.

Whatever method you use, the key activity is to decide what you are going to pay attention to and then to create a system that is manageable for your life for the span of a week wherein you will quantify information about your self or your behavior.

For example, one step of this process might be to decide to measure how happy you are and to create a spreadsheet with a column for “Happy.” Then when you wake up in the morning, while you’re waiting for the coffee to brew, you’ll pull up the spreadsheet and enter a number between 1 and 10 indicating how happy you feel. You will continue adding rows at some set interval (every hour maybe). You will probably have some columns that are a little less subjective than “how happy do I feel right now?” (like “how many times did I talk in class today?” or “how much time did I spend studying?” “how many minutes have I spent looking at my phone in the last hour?”). You can decide how objective or subjective your categories are, but recognize that those decisions will impact the sorts of conclusions you draw from this process.

For now, you just need to decide what you will track and then to be as meticulous and careful as you can be about actually tracking this information either directly into a spreadsheet or in a format that can easily be transferred into a spreadsheet at the end of the week.

Visualizing that data

Now that you have gathered your data, it’s time to analyze it further and visualize it.

With the data set that you’ve gathered, which is just for a week or so and only with a handful of variables, you probably won’t need a computer or special tools to analyze it. However, you might find loading your data into a spreadsheet (like in Excel) if you haven’t already been keeping it in that format will help you a lot to analyze it and see patterns in the data.

Because this is an assignment about collecting data about your own life, there is room for you to decide how “scientific” you want to be with your project. Even if you have never used spreadsheets for much of anything, try to quantify your data as much as you can and make an effort to be detailed and accurate with your information, but that said the types of data you chose to collect and the category you’ve decided to study will have a huge impact on the type of analysis you undertake. It is okay for you to have some more subjective categories and it’s okay if your final analysis or visualization is somewhat subjective too.


There are numerous methods you can use to create your visualization — anything from paper and crayons/markers/pencils to sophisticated data visualization software like Tableau. MS Excel also has some pretty sophisticated charts that you can create from your data. And there are also lots of free online tools that you can use too — it’s admittedly been a year or more since I really surveyed the set of free tools available, but I’d probably still recommend Infogram if you want a free web-based infographic maker and aren’t sure where to start.

For help deciding what type of chart or graph might be most effective in visualizing your data, consult the Data Viz Catalogue (it might be most helpful for you to switch to the “sort by functions” view at the top of the page).

Digital Images

Hand-drawn charts and graphs are perfectly 100% acceptable, if that’s what you prefer. However, please do not spend lots of time carefully crafting hand-drawn charts and then snap a crappy picture of them on your cell phone to post to the web. There are lots of scanners available on campus that you can use to scan your chart into a high-quality JPG image — I’d suggest that you take a quick trip to the Media Lab on the 4th floor of the library and scan your drawings. That space is underutilized and an excellent resource that you should know about.

If you create your visualizations with an online tool, just make sure that you can export them as a JPG image, or that you can at least take a good screenshot of your work.


Publish your charts as a sketch post to your site. Identify what conceptual issue you were tracking or what question you wanted to answer (or begin to answer). Include 2 or 3 paragraphs explaining what conclusions you have drawn from the data that you collected. Were you able to answer the question you had posed for yourself? What sorts of judgement calls did you face while gathering the data? Why did you choose to visualize your data in the manner that you did? What do these visualizations say about your own life? If you were to continue this project into the future, would you go about it in pretty much the way you have done this week or would you do things differently now that you have looked at the data to this point? Have you found this to be a valuable tool for self analysis?