From Port to Plate: A Scallop Infographic

Admittedly, I am not a scallops fan. Despite living so close to the ocean, I dislike the majority of seafood. However, I love the stories of scallop fishermen in the Southcoast area. This profession gets my admiration and respect!

If you love scallops, more than likely the scallops you eat might have come from New Bedford, Massachusetts. The port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, is the nation’s top scallop port, providing the nation with close to 42 million pounds of scallops in 2019 and bringing close to $451 million to the local economy. As financially rewarding as it is, scallop fishing is a dangerous job.

Scallop trawlers travel to George’s Bank, a resource-rich area 150 miles east of Cape Cod. Scallopers work 11-hour shifts for 12-14 days straight, and on occasion, work close to 20 hours a day, with little rest between shifts. They spend most of their time hauling scallop gear and shucking over 20,000 pounds of scallop shells by hand. Scallops are then loaded into 50-pound bags and stored on ice in the boat’s hull.

Did I also mention these fishermen are performing these tasks while the boat is rocking in 11-18 foot ocean swells, and often in hazardous storms?

I designed this infographic to help tell the story of New Bedford Scallopers.

Infographics improve Visual Storytelling

The human brain processes visual images faster than text, and infographics are a wonderful tool to communicate visually. However, infographics need to be designed simply, and with the core audience in mind. It’s easy for designers to create an infographic that confuses or overwhelms the audience. Simple color palettes, illustrated elements, and simple font pairings can elevate the performance of an infographic.

Designers should also consider Gestalt principles when designing an infographic. Using Gestalt principles will greatly enhance the infographic’s design and improve visual storytelling. For more on Gestalt, visit my prior blog post.

Lastly, effective infographics connect to a user’s emotions. Visual storytelling succeeds when content is presented genuinely and authentically. It also succeeds when the audience is engaged with feelings, senses, or emotions.

Designing an infographic

I designed the above infographic to help tell the scientific and geographic story of the New Bedford scallopers. Scientific data rarely demonstrates visually, and scientists are missing an opportunity to engage with their audiences effectively.

I wanted to tell a narrative story that highlighted the achievements of scallopers, the impact on local economies and produce a story that tells users where their scallops come from. I also wanted to create a digital infographic that included original photography that I’ve shot over the years.

The design needed Gestalt’s principle of continuity to lead the audience through the story of New Bedford scallopers, and I found it important to use Gestalt’s principle of closure to illustrate the “O” in scallop with an illustration of a scallop. I also aimed to connect with users’ emotions by using words and imagery connected with the senses.

My hope by including the scallops being cooked, an audience member would create the sizzling sound effect in their head, and maybe their mouths would start to water. My goal is for audience members to have a greater appreciation and gratitude to the scallopers who risked their lives to provide the nation with seafood.

Scallops wrapped in bacon prepared at the Black Whale restaurant in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Here’s a link to a higher quality version of the Scallop: Trawler to Plate infographic.

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