From prehistoric paintings on cave walls in Arnhem Land and Sulawesi to the abundance of radical political propaganda circulating on Facebook and Twitter – communicating in succinct and memorable ways is an ancient art form.

The road from war tapestries and star maps to animated adverts reveals a fascinating evolution of visual storytelling throughout human history. Affari Media is proud to occupy part of the timeline in this evolution spanning 60’000 years, an epic tale within itself.

Prehistoric infographics – cave paintings were used to tell stories, record history, and give directions.

Taking stock of how far we’ve come, we became interested in the adaptation, transformation, and natural selection processes which brought us here. A point in time where simple and easily-accessible software allows anyone with a computer to create cookie-cutter infographics, and with access to the internet distribute them to millions of people within the blink of an eye.

It’s worth scouring the past for inspiration, meaning, and purpose in times of uncertainty like we’re experiencing today. It helps to put our work into perspective, taking its place in a long line of creative minds and innovations. 

Prior to the invention of the printing press, hand-drawn charts, diagrams, and maps lit the way for the efficient dissemination of information. In the 15th Century Gutenberg’s printing press entered the game, and the evolution of infographics advanced exponentially – in line with scientific discovery and technological innovation.

Nearly 100 years later, explorers on the Magellan-Elcano expedition circumnavigated the world, piecing together several thousand years worth of infographics in order to be the first to do so.

Over the centuries following the invention of the printing press in Europe, scholars and statisticians such as Edmund Halley and Florence Nightingale produced useful charts and graphs, many of which we still use to illuminate large amounts of data.

Infographics of Antiquity – early maps from the first explorers including maps of the constellations used for astronavigation.

This evolution in the way we visualise information went on to inspire new methods of mass-scale marketing – inevitably leading to the pastel-tone infographics we regularly see and share on Instagram and LinkedIn today.

Throughout the 20th Century the evolution of infographics reached new heights with the development of cohesive signage for transport – on roads, for train networks, and to navigate airports. Businesses and other organisations could now mass-produce marketing material to attract attention, increase sales, educate, and engage customers. We had entered the Age of Advertising.

In 1898 the Winton Motor Carriage Company placed an advertisement in Scientific American, the very first automobile advert. In 1924 Ford’s reliable and affordable car for the modern family, the Model T, appeared in a colourful advert in the Saturday Evening Post.

Scientific infographics – with widespread literacy and education came a more widespread and varied use of infographics.

Infographics are an integral part of government projects, training programmes, and the education system. Textbooks, exam questions, public health announcements and economic projections all use various forms of infographics. Magazines, news media, marketing material, from the apps on your phone to the billboards in Times Square – you’ll find infographics everywhere you look.

War propaganda infographics have changed from the classic Lord Kitchener poster, to maps on the news with irritated arrows and angry red zones. Over the decades since the invention of the internet, the world has moved forward dramatically and the way we communicate has evolved too. With the development of social media, software, and apps, day after day new barriers are overcome and problems solved.

We now live in an age of digital and graphic saturation. Not only do designers have to ensure their work stands out, but must also consider its level of accessibility and a multitude of other socio-cultural factors. It’s so much easier to create infographics now, and this puts the pressure on designers and content creators to continue innovating and find new ways to impress.

Modern infographics – a contemporary take on the ancient star map, we use infographics everyday to get to work, to make decisions, and to promote public health and safety.

The illustrations in this post have been created by our Motion Designer, Adam Mason. In business, being able to employ a talented team of creatives sets you apart from the crowd. We live in a completely digital world, every idea and action is captured as data, and it’s our job to translate this quagmire of information into creative media.

We work seamlessly as an extension of your in-house team to provide a first-class service. Affari ensures the projects we undertake for our clients are entertaining, engaging, and extraordinary. We deliver cutting-edge experiences for cutting-edge businesses. Check out our portfolio to learn more about the projects we deliver for our clients.

Time-lapse video – 90 minutes of Adam illustrating condensed.