Disagreement if this is Leonardo da Vinci’s self-portrait — but most believe it is.
Yes, Your Data Communications are Mini MasterpiecesApply Leonardo Da Vinci’s Best Techniques to Your Thought ProcessTricia AanderudBlockedUnblockFollowFollowingApr 14Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most influential artists who ever lived.
While best known for the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper artwork, his influence was felt in medicine, science, architecture, and even warfare inventions.
Da Vinci has been described as one of the most gifted and inventive men in history.
He was born more than 500 years ago in the Tuscan town of Vinci in Italy.
His birth was during the Renaissance period, a time when the Middle Ages started transitioning into the modern world.
Today, you can apply his love of details, curiosity about the world, and inspired beauty to your data communications for a true masterpiece.
Technique 1: Showing the SoulDuring his life, da Vinci kept a journal that had sketches, ideas, and reminders.
From these notebooks, we have been able to study his thinking patterns.
From da Vinci, we can embrace curiosity, systems thinking, love of detail, and even risk-taking.
“A good painter has two chief objects to paint — man and the intention of his soul.
The former is easy, the latter hard, for it must be expressed by gestures and the movement of the limbs.
”Vitruvian Man (Public Domain)His Vitruvian Man drawing is a man standing inside a circle and a square that shows his understanding of proportions.
Da Vinci was described as extremely handsome and exceedingly charming.
This drawing is thought to be a self-portrait.
Think about how that might apply to data — every day we have to show the data and explain what it means.
Our job is to show the soul of the data from using machine learning and data visualization techniques.
Technique 2: Da Vinci Liked the DetailsTo keep his art exact, da Vinci dissected human and animal bodies.
While he was working to have more exact artwork, his drawings for the internal organs and the body’s muscular structures are some of the first known drawings.
These were some of the first anatomy drawings — as you look at his artwork notice how the details in the face and body are shown.
This is our goal with our data communications — show the entirety and the details so the viewer understands the entire picture.
Similar to Da Vinci — it means you understand the underlying principles or the anatomy of the data.
This is how you communicate the rich insights you find in the data.
Technique 3: Applying Systems ThinkingSystems thinking is the ability to understand how pieces influence the whole.
Da Vinci saw patterns in the natural world and applied those patterns in multiple ways.
From his study of anatomy, he developed ideas for how gears and levers worked.
His ability to interconnect concepts and apply those ideas to other fields enhanced his ability to solve problems.
Systems Thinking applied to a WheelThis same process of systems thinking can be applied to data communications.
By thinking about business issues as applied to the entire process or organization, you can better understand how each question or insight will change the entire process.
In the Data Analytics — System Thinking post, the author suggests how analysts can cause issues when they don’t consider the impact of a single metric.
It is easy to isolate that value without considering the upstream and downstream approach, but this is dangerous!.The metrics are part of a larger system and changing one can have ripple effects on others.
When you think of the system, consider if your insights are valuable.
Da Vinci’s observations and consideration for each element are how we should be thinking of our data communications.
Technique 4: Think Visually for Instant ImpactPhoto by Pavel Nekoranec on UnsplashIn one of his notebooks, da Vinci noted how paintings were superior to writing because paintings could communicate in moments what a poem would take hours to say.
This is exactly how we think of data visualization today!None of this visual thinking is clearer than what we learn from the Mona Lisa.
Scholars have commented on the Mona Lisa smile.
Is she smiling or is she sad?.If you focus on the mouth, it may appear that she is only smiling.
As you pull away and notice her eyes, she is very clearly smiling and even watches you as you cross the room.
Da Vinci’s sfumato technique, where he blurs the lines and boundaries, brought realism to his work.
He didn’t think people saw sharp lines but rather an unfocused smokiness.
He said the technique was “without lines or borders, in the manner of smoke or beyond the focus plane”.
When translated, sfumato is derived from the Italian word for smoke.
He analyzed everything about the human face to better understand how to paint it.
For his masterpiece Mona Lisa he dissected the human face to understand the muscles related to the lips.
Da Vinci wanted impact with his artwork.
He wanted to move the viewer, which is exactly what we want with our data communications.
Impact!Technique 5: Finding Unexpected InsightsIf you journey to Milan, Italy, you can see one of da Vinci’s most famous paintings — The Last Supper.
This artwork is painted on the wall of the Santa Maria Delle Grazie.
The painting depicts a story from the New Testament of Christ having what would be his last meal with his 12 followers.
Da Vinci wanted to capture the moment that Christ revealed that he would be betrayed by someone at the table.
The attention to detail is where you can find the insights.
Notice that Christ is at the center of the table with open body language.
The entire image centers around him and the window arch even appears to crown his head.
Da Vinci ensured that each disciple had a different reaction to Christ’s statement — many asking, “is it me?” Look at the faces — they display concern, shock, anger, and bewilderment.
Judas (second to the left of Christ), who was the betrayer, is leaning away from Christ.
In front of Judas, there is a spilled vessel of salt.
Spilling salt on the table has often been associated with a bad omen.
These were some of the details he included to add depth of meaning to his painting.
Da Vinci was known to spend hours watching people so he could capture expressions in his notebooks.
He would study the subject in detail and create numerous sketches.
In the figure to left, you can see his sketch of The Last Supper.
In this sketch, he considers placing Judas on the opposite side of the table.
He drew the figures multiple times to ensure his message was communicated.
In our world, we would call this iteration.
The same diligence is what makes data communications stand out.
Da Vinci focused on the details of the expressions, the table setting, as well as the room.
Your details will come from the data as you search through it to find the most impactful results.
Apply these Techniques in Your WorkDa Vinci died in 1519 in France at the age of 72, while in service to the King of France.
He will be remembered for his vast influence on art and science.
In his lifetime, Da Vinci would influence a generation of artists including Michelangelo and Raphael.
Today, you can apply his love of details, curiosity about the world, and inspired beauty to your data presentations for a true masterpiece.
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