Out of this world

For the Music Universe chart, Hannah Donovan and Olivier Gillet aimed to show relationships between artists and tag data.

“I wrote a simple program that created circles proportional to each tag and artist’s weight,” says Gillet. “Then Hannah came with the idea of the planetary system – we had to agree on different ‘rules’ to make it work (for instance, how to avoid planets colliding with each other) – and then I spent some time figuring out a method for automatically packing the circles and orienting the planets.”

For the print edition, they could tweak the design to get it perfect – but the customisable online versions they had to be capable of generating on their own and still being readable. Then they had to pick a look.

“We wanted it to be a bit of a throwback to the 1970s and 1980s popular science books we read as kids. I started with a dark grey background and funky, warm colours,” says Gillet. “Hannah ended up changing everything, but oddly enough, the end result was exactly like what I originally had in mind.”