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Freely Available Illustrations of Creative Applications of Data and Technology

This post showcases illustrations by Peter Tilley, based on research led by Susan Lechelt, that demonstrate creative applications for, and interpretations of, data-driven technologies. A key goal for these illustrations is to subvert common imageries of tech seen in popular media – which often fail to showcase the creative affordances of data and technology.

We welcome and encourage anyone to use, distribute and remix these illustrations, and they are freely available under a CC-BY license.

Introduction to the Work

Two dancers are physically immersed in the ocean in a glass globe, as fish swim by
One of the “Technologies and Data-Driven Methods” illustrations, visualising immersive technology

The Creative Informatics research has led to insights into what forms of data and technology are particularly applicable to the Creative Industries, and what creative challenges data and technology can help to address. For example, we have demonstrated how data and technology are serving as tools to enable new forms of engagement with artistic collections, create new markets for creative work, and provide assistance and support to creative practitioners (see this post for a full overview of our findings). We have also demonstrated how categories of technologies and data-driven methods – ranging from immersive technology, to physical computing, digital platforms and distributed ledger technologies – can be used to meet creative goals.

To make these findings come to life in a creative way, we commissioned designer Peter Tilley to develop illustrations of the finding themes (see this post on more of his initial process).


A robotic octopus sorts documents on a conveyor belt while people look on
Illustration of AI & Machine Learning, inspired by the BBC’s work on Explaining AI

A key goal of the illustrations was to subvert common imageries of technologies and computational methods that are seen in popular media – which often fail to showcase the many creative affordances of data and technology.

The [Creative Commons] Illustrations

To achieve these goals, Peter created two sets of illustrations:

  • 13 illustrations visualising challenges for the Creative Industries that can be addressed through data and technology (e.g.,  Providing Assistance and Support; Creating New Markets; Innovating New Creative Processes)
  • 6 illustrations of forms of technologies and computational methods, suggesting how they can be used in creative ways (e.g., Immersive Technology; AI and Machine Learning; Physical Computing; Digital Apps and Platforms)
A video game character dressed as a knight opens a treasure box of binary numbers.
One of the “Creative Challenges” illustrations, focused on the creative challenge of “finding meaning in data”

These illustrations are now available for anyone to download and use. The illustrations are hosted under a CC-BY license, meaning they can be reused, redistributed, and even remixed, so long as their origin is attributed.

We present the illustrations through four galleries below. For each of the two sets of illustrations, there is a GIF gallery and a Still Image gallery. You can view and download each full size image by clicking on it.

The images can alternatively also be downloaded, both in Still Image and GIF versions, from Flickr at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/124583512@N08/albums/72177720300354719

Creative Challenges: GIF Versions

Technologies and Data-Driven Methods: GIF Versions


Creative Challenges: Still Versions

Technologies and Data-Driven Methods: Still Versions


Next Steps

Our next steps are to turn these illustrations into both a digital and physical card deck, along with ideation activities, to support creative practitioners from all sectors – ranging from visual artists, to game designers to performing artists and beyond – in imagining new ways in which they can use new technologies, datasets and computational methods in their work and practice. In the future, we also plan to monitor how these images have been used by others.


For any questions about this work, feel free to get in touch with Dr. Susan Lechelt at susan.lechelt@ed.ac.uk


A number of people have supported and contributed to this work. We especially thank Dr. Chris Elsden, who has a key contributor to this project. The visual ideas presented here have benefited from feedback from the wider Creative Informatics team, as well as the Creative Informatics community.