Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Boston Review: Small Changes, Big Results

I worked with Art Director, George Restrepo before, so when he asked me to illustrate an article for the Boston Review, filled with statistics, studies, percentages and facts about behavioral economics, I didn't freak out. I knew that at the heart of it, the illustration would be about people, their feelings and motivations, something we all have in common. The key was to connect the data to the viewer, so I pulled some quotes I thought were emotional, and illustration worthy, and began sketching.

1. Indian woman and the lentils
"...small upfront incentives should be very effective at changing behavior. And indeed a program that provided a small incentive for mothers to immunize their children (1kg of lentils for each immunization and a set of plates when the full course was completed) raised full immunization rates from 5 percent to 38 percent in rural Rajasthan (Banerjee, Duflo, Glennerster and Kothari, 2011)."

Sketch 1: Indian woman wearing colorful traditional Sari, struggles toward her goal, held back by diagrams representing malaria, economics and immunizations. She is incentivized by the immediate benefit of 1kg of lentils, the unseen benefit of immunizations are too abstract to overcome her daily toils. Set in Indian countryside. These sketches are 18 x 24 inches and drawn with graphite sticks and 6b Ebony pencils.

2. Kenyan girl chases education.
 "Research in Kenya found that providing a free school uniform (costing about $6) could increase school attendance by 6.4 percentage points (Evans, Kremer, Ngatia, 2009)."
Sketch 2: A Kenyan girl chases her dream of an education, if only she had a $6 school uniform. People sitting under the shade of the trees look on, is her dream out of reach? Kilamanjaro in the background. Graphics of a coin and mosquito are tied to her feet by thread, these problems hold her back.

3. Overcoming obstacles
"...small costs can deter people from making very beneficial investments..."

Sketch 3: Kenyan people struggle to overcome economic obstacles, represented as local currency. The Boston Review liked the idea of coins representing obstacles, but I wanted to add an element of people helping each other too. Which sketch would you have chosen?

Boston Review, Behavioral Economics. Small Changes, Big Results. Art Director: George Restrepo. Illustration: Graham Smith.

Boston Review: Small Changes, Big Results. Illustration (detail): Graham Smith

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