Visually Marketplace Designer Spotlight: Michael Agar

by Visually 7 months ago Filed Under: Conversations

Visually’s Marketplace connects thousands of designers with clients seeking to commission infographics and data visualizations. Every week, we feature a member of our designer community here, on the blog. If you are interested in participating, please contact us at blog[at]visual.ly.


Name: Michael Agar
Age: 37
On Visually: michaelagar
In Design: 16 years
 
 
 

1. Tell us a bit about yourself: how did you get into design, and how long have you been doing it?
My life in design has been a bit of a whirlwind. Following studies of Infographics & News Design at Newcastle College of Art, and a Summer Scholarship at the Poynter Institute, Florida, I started work at The Observer, London, in 1997, and was appointed Graphics Editor in 2000.

At The Observer we won many awards for infographics – off the top of my head, I was really proud of two – a Formula1 seasonal guide, which was printed as an A2 glossy poster, and the other explaining how Concorde had crashed in France. These were truly innovative days and we did some really great work exploring just how far we could develop visual journalism.

I was then appointed Graphics Editor of the Independent on Sunday in 2007, and in 2008 joined the Telegraph Media Group as Head of Graphics, editing and producing visual content across print and all digital platforms.

I’ve also had the pleasure of being ‘Infographics Consultant’ with Innovation International Consulting Group, working with tremendous editorial and managerial consultants, from whom I learned a great deal, redesigning newspapers and magazines across the world.

I’m now director of my own company, Michael Agar Design, which specialises in creating data-design and infographics for businesses, editorial and marketing.

2. In 7 words or less, describe your style.
Design that entertains but must always inform.

3. If you could take a seminar with one designer or artist, dead or living, who would that be? Why?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with the Dutch ‘De Stijl’ movement that was principally founded in 1917 by the painter, designer, writer and critic Theo van Doesburg, and its inner circle included Mondrian, van der Leck and Oud. In short, a design and geometrical aesthetic that advocated ‘materialism’ and ‘functionality’. For love and for laughs, I would share a seminar with Piet Mondrian. Although what he would make of canvas being replaced by code is another matter…


4. What’s your favorite color? Why?
Being colour blind, I love blue and orange. I just can’t stand red and green. Yuck. Although I support the football team Manchester United and they wear red, but that’s OK. Stunning Pink is a wonderful tone and good for the soul in many ways.

5. What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your work and what did you learn from it?
Ahh the awkward question. Serious seat-squirming, but for the first edition I placed Flight 175 entering the wrong side of the South Tower (WTC2). Amazingly no one noticed, but I did. I managed to correct for 2nd edition later that evening, but still… we put these things down to long hours, being over emotional, mentally drained but we have to get these details right. A visual lie is the worst lie of all. Fortunately, the amended infographic was invited to show at the Design Museum in London.

6. What about your biggest achievement? Tell us about the project you are most proud of in your career so far.
Away from infographics, my biggest achievement is being a father of three wonderful children. Surely my greatest design?! Professionally, I’m my own worst critic but I’ve been fortunate enough to have had worked with some very talented people, but a life-long project is an aim to be consistently creative.

7. Who should we feature in this space next?
Stefan Bayley. He did a great illustrative series on Olympic sports.