Art in the Infographic Age

Artists Tom Whalen and Kevin Tong break into the sophisticated, rapidly growing world of infographics with their exhibition, Info•Rama.

By Ben Marks at 4:00 am Fri, Aug 22, 2014

No one wants to read anything any more, or so I keep reading on the interwebs. Which is one reason why infographics have become the preferred method of delivering news and information for newspapers, magazines, and online-only publishers. In fact, data visualizations have been around since at least the Victorian Era, and savvy schoolteachers have long known that if they pair pictures with text in an engaging way, kids tend to pay attention.

Now two artists, Tom Whalen and Kevin Tong, have merged infographics with fine art in an exhibition called Info•Rama (August 23 – September 17, 2014) at the Phone Booth Gallery in Long Beach, California. Consisting of a dozen limited-edition screenprints, six by Whalen and six by Tong, the exhibition features colorful charts on leafcutter ants, an homage to the P-51D Mustang (“The most recognized and celebrated American fighter of the second World War”), the component parts of an Extravehicular Mobility Unity (we know this device as the spacesuit) and a diagram detailing Samurai armor worn in feudal Japan.

“Kevin reached out to me more than two years ago about the possibility of putting on a two-man show,” says Whalen of the show’s genesis. “We were both fans of each other’s work, and after a lot of spitballing, Kevin, who had just created an infographic-style poster for “Breaking Bad,” threw out the idea of a show full of infographics.”

The result is a dozen images on topics from technology to nature. “I worked on the octopus first,” Whalen recalls, “Kevin started with the leafcutter ants. We didn’t have a hard-and-fast list of subjects at the beginning, but my son is a train fanatic, so he was the inspiration for the transcontinental-railroad piece.”

With most of the printing handled by DL Screenprinting in Seattle (Ohdanielsan of Los Angeles printed Tong’s Spacesuit and Zeppelin prints), the series features small edition sizes (no more than 100) and dimensions from 12 inches tall by 36 inches wide (and vice versa) to the more standard 18-by-24. “As varied as they are, the sizes are all suited to standard off-the-shelf frames,” says Whalen. And while both artists would obviously be happy if some of their prints ended up on a few living-room walls, discounts are available to teacher who wants to use Whalen and Tong’s infographics in their classrooms.

Photo IDS:

Kevin Tong Print

Leafcutter Ants

12 x 36 inches

Ed: 60

Printer: DL Screenprinting Print

Nikola Tesla

12 x 36 inches

Ed: 100

Printer: DL Screenprinting Print

Zeppelin

18 x 24 inches

Ed: 80

Printer: Ohdanielsan Print

Spacesuit

18 x 24 inches

Ed: 80

Printer: Ohdanielsan

Tom Whalen Print

Octopus

12 x 36 inches

Ed: 90

Printer: DL Screenprinting infographics_P-51mustang_dev1

Transcontinental Railroad

36 x 12 inches

Ed: 80

Printer: DL Screenprinting infographics_P-51mustang_dev1

P-51 Mustang

18 x 24 inches

Ed: 75

Printer: DL Screenprinting Print

Samurai

12 x 36 inches

Ed: 100

Printer: DL Screenprinting

Published 4:00 am Fri, Aug 22, 2014

About the Author

Ben Marks is the senior editor of CollectorsWeekly.com

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