Peter Grundy Interview
Posted on 12th August 2014 by Will Daniels

Peter Grundy is an illustrator and designer who has specialized in information design for over thirty years. His latest book, a collaboration with author Simon Rogers, Infographics: Human Body , simplifies a variety of complex facts about the human body with Grundy's signature entertaining and informative info graphics. The book is available now.

Why did you decide to focus specifically on a career in information design?
I went to the Royal College of Art in London in the late 70s at a time of dynamic, creative energy; most students went into advertising or design groups to pursue brochure, packaging, and corporate identity.
This was a time pre-technology when the tools of an art director were simply good ideas and "balls."
I met Tilly Northedge at the RCA, and we became interested in a tired, overlooked area of design that was more about explaining things than selling things, and when we graduated, we set up a design studio to do this work in a more creative and imaginative way. The studio was Grundy & Northedge. We worked together for twenty-five years. When Tilly retired in 2006, I renamed the studio Grundini .

How would you describe your style?
The main component of my work isn’t style, it's ideas. The methods I use to visualize these ideas have evolved from the need to communicate simply.

Your work involves both simplifying complex subjects and making them visually appealing. Which aspect (simplifying the topic or making the image visually appealing) do you focus on first? Or does it depend on each individual project?
Simplification is complicated, when you take stuff away from an image you need different skills to retain interest and elegance. My skills are more typographic than illustrative.

How has your work evolved over the past several decades?
It's become simpler, which requires more confidence, and that comes with time. It also started without new technology and now uses new technology, but you wouldn’t notice the join.

What would be your ultimate iconography dream project?
I’ve always fancied being the artist in residence at NASA.

Your new book, Information Graphics: Human Body , tackles nearly every imaginable topic related to the human body, from the separate layers to diseases and reproduction. What inspired you take on such a broad and extensive subject?
It wasn’t a new idea; the human body has after-all been "booked" a thousand times. But the project interested me because I wanted a chance to simplify the body to an almost-ridiculous state and make it fun for the age group. In other words, you’ve got the books that look at the body in great detail, my book is a chance to look at it in as little detail as possible.

Do you have a personal favorite topic or page from the book? Which one?
The human heart (p x) was, I felt, a way of making the heart, which isn’t a pretty thing, visually something quite beautiful and descriptive. (See below.)

What was the most difficult topic to make both simple and attractive?
Guess that’s the toilet contents.

Are there any specific changes in your approach when creating infographics designed mainly for children rather than adults?
No.

Finally, what advice would you give for illustrators looking to pursue a career in information design?
When I was a student, a tutor told me that an information designer should never let his or her personality stand in front of the information. I thought, "to hell with that."


Below are a few of Peter's infographics from other recent projects.

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