Sometimes inspiration can come from a really bad thing.

This was a personal project I made after the “Me Too” deluge in late 2017, when it seemed every day a news hit came out about a person being harassed, assaulted, raped, or worse. Most of this surge came after accusations began piling on Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. I wanted to document the time and see the connections of those involved. Though the list is now extensive and, by most measures, sadly continuing, I focused on the three months after the Weinstein accusal in early October.

As legal accountability might take years, and was complex to parse given the speed of the daily news cycle at the time, I wanted to show a snapshot of the allegations—whether wrongfully or credibly accused—and present one big picture of the storm. The sheer numbers coming in revealed how pervasive sexual assault was. Some of the accused, like Senator Franken, did not get due process at all, while others denied claims and simply went back to working lucrative jobs after laying low for a while. I was thinking of journalistic fairness the whole time: to explore all sides and try not express opinions, and that the viewer should be able to see trends or patterns even though the visualization may be complex.

Structurally the design seemed to want to be a timeline, or maybe it was a tangled net, a curving downward spiral, or a vortex shape? Or was it a range of bars with colored gradients showing the level of abuse?

Brainstorming metaphors like Breaking the Dam, Watershed Moment, or Strength in Numbers in a bad sense seemed to fit; as more stories came to light, more (mostly) women broke their silence and shared their experiences.

So I started to build it out vertically—like one part falling and creating inertia to keep on going. Though I always want my designs to be visually inviting, I didn’t want this one to be too bright; like I was celebrating the accusers. Later, I layered in a few case factoids as more entry points, with bubbles at the bottom to show
punishment, contrition, or resolution, if any.

I settled on the title “Tipping Points” almost in a hopeful way—that showing this issue was not rewarding it, but at the very least acknowledging it. Five years later, it seems that the national conversation has now turned it into a partisan, weaponized gender issue. According to rainn.org, out of every 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators
will walk free, so it’s hard to say now if that moment in time was actually was a tipping point, or if it was just business as usual.

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Heather’s article appears in Nightingale Magazine, Issue 2. You can still order your own copies of Nightingale Magazine, Issues 1 and 2 here, while supplies last!

Author profile

With 20+ years experience in media and publishing, I have worn the hats of Art Director, Designer, Graphics Producer and almost everything in between. Using whatever tools at hand—text, data, illustration, photographs, motion and sound— I enjoy exploring and navigating the world through graphics. With both my own and other artists’ original work, I love to tell data-driven visual stories with a detailed eye, and I’ve gotten some cool awards to boot!