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Kim Rees is a partner at Periscopic, an award-winning interactive firm specializing in user-centric design with a strong focus on information visualization. She has over fifteen years of experience in the interactive industry and is prominent in the information visualization community. The company's work has appeared in several publications, including the 2009 Communication Arts Interactive Annual and in the Information Design SourceBook. Rees speaks frequently at industry events including recently at the CERF Biennial Conference, the Tableau Customer Conference, WebVisions, and the Portland Data Visualization Group.


Concepts in Motion

If you have a degree in what field is it? Computer science from NYU.

What’s the best site you've seen lately? What's so great about it? Since we work in the information visualization space, I care less about overall sites and more about visual communication of ideas; Information Aesthetics and FlowingData are resources I check regularly for data and information visualization work.

If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? Pastry chef or fashion designer.

Design or technology? Which is more important? Why? Both are important. We typically allow the technology to support the design, however, there are times when our developers show us something really novel and we design to it. We’re also fans of allowing both to go unnoticed, and focus on the message or information; it’s probably the hardest part of what we do.

From where do your best ideas originate? My best ideas are the result of brainstorming. I love the experience of contributing to a concept that’s in motion and seeing something wonderful unfold.

How do you overcome a creative block? Image searching in Google or Flickr. Wandering through visual concepts and seeing how different people approach the same visual idea helps spark ideas for me. I also keep notebooks and sketchbooks that often turn out to be quite surprising after I’ve let them sit.

In one word describe how you feel when beginning a new project? Temerarious.

What well-known site is most desperately in need of a redesign? Heartbreakingly, Amnesty International and Interpol. Both have the need to grab folks by the emotional jugular and incite action but neither provides compelling visual information or narrative, although they both have massive amounts of data covering many areas of concern.

Do you have creative outlets other than Web design? Yes! I work in fiber arts creating handmade felt apparel. I also love to cook and bake.

What music are you listening to right now? Edward Elgar, César Franck and Raffi (I have a two-year-old). When I’m writing a proposal there’s nothing better than Underworld.

What product/gadget can you not live without? My French press and, of course, my iPhone; I can administer our mySQL databases, get my son through a diaper change with Sesame Street and make sure the bills get paid wherever I am (it’s magical).

What’s the strangest thing you’ve bought online? A toothpaste tube squeezer from the UK so my husband could stop lecturing me about not squeezing from the bottom.

What’s your favorite quote? “The difficult I’ll do right now; the impossible will take a little while.” It’s from an old Sigman/Russell jazz song. It sort of embodies our attitude at Periscopic.

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Work hard. Work late. Show off. Listen. Don’t get frustrated. Experiment. Respect yourself. Respect your work. Only love your ideas; let your clients marry them.

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? That 140 characters is enough.