An Interview with Pradeep Kumar G (Tableau Featured Author)
A Tableau-centric weekly blog about the data viz-making process, #datafam member interviews, Viz of the Week & entertainment for introverts (consisting of a music morsel & a binge bite).
This week we feature an open, helpful & insightful interview with the talented Tableau Featured Author Pradeep Kumar G (@pradeep_zen) + Lindsay Betzendahl (@ZenDollData), a Tableau Zen Master + Tableau Public Ambassador, has our Viz of the Week!
Adam Mico (AM): Pradeep, I’m excited to interview you. You have been a source for inspiration for so many and you keep pushing the boundaries of accessible & class design. What does it mean for you as a proud Indian to be so well admired globally as a data visualizer?
Pradeep Kumar G (PKG): First of all, thank you Adam for hosting me for your data viz blog. I feel really great to be a part of Tableau community where I could able to participate in community-led projects and learn about data visualization. The Tableau community is filled with people who are so supportive and cheerful.
I‘m very happy to be selected as a Tableau Public Featured Author recently. I am proud to be considered as inspiration by people — this encourages me to do many more things.
AM: Please explain when your relationship with data visualization began. What was the 1st viz or thing you recall seeing that really sparked your interest?
PKG: I started using Tableau since August 2018 after joining my first organization, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Tamil Nadu, India. In the beginning, I had a few weeks of training sessions where my mentors taught me how to use Tableau. Then I came to know about ‘Tableau Public’ and started exploring the vizzes published by authors from various parts of the world. I was really amazed by the vizzes and intrigued me to create one. Like most of the people, I started my Tableau Public profile with sample superstore viz (see images below).
Then, I came to know about Kevin Flerlage and Ken Flerlage — at first, I didn’t know that they are actually twins and I mentioned Ken Flerlage in one of my tweets thinking that it was Kevin 😅! (1) The viz below, ‘Flowers for Life’ by Kevin Flerlage, really inspired me a lot and that was the time I realized Tableau has powerful capabilities where one can create beautiful visualizations with data.
I tried the same technique (No Polygons) (2) to create ‘Four-Leaf Clover Chart’ viz and it was really fun experimenting with Tableau for the first time.
AM: When you went to college and studied engineering, where did you think or desire to do career-wise at that point?
PKG: Actually, I used to sketch and paint since childhood. I have participated in lots of painting events and I have won prizes — I could say painting is my passion. I wish to share a couple of my paintings which I have done during my schooling days (see images below).
After completing high school, my passion gradually evolved from painting with crayons to creating more digital art using software like Photoshop and CorelDRAW. I created logos and poster designs. Below are some of my logo designs I created using Photoshop.
I always wanted to become an Animation Designer — but… due to circumstances, I took Engineering and later realized that it’s better to switch field (it was a very hard decision). I then attended an interview during campus placement in my college and was selected to an organization where I was introduced to Data Visualization (which led me to Tableau). I was incredibly happy that I could relate my design and art skills with data visualization. Even though I was confused where this work would lead after college, I love my work because I get to apply my affection for design and analytics!
AM: Before Tableau, did you use other tools for data visualization; what were they and what were your experiences with them like?
PKG: I was initially trained in Tableau and QlikView during the training days in my organization — I have used PowerBI to create a few business dashboards (to be frank, I love Tableau more than any other tools used 😃). I would say Tableau is a remarkably effective tool to create interactive and rich data visualizations very quickly; it is flexible and user-friendly which is the major strength of Tableau. Even in my organization, I prefer Tableau projects because I feel more comfortable using Tableau.
If your client is looking for a Business Intelligence tool to handle huge data volume, create attractive visualizations combined with an intuitive user interface which provides business solutions to users, then Tableau is always the right choice.
AM: What started your Tableau journey and what prompted you to publish on Tableau Public?
PKG: I started my Tableau Public profile in 2018 to explore vizzes in the Tableau Gallery. After joining Twitter, I came to know about #Datafam and Tableau Community projects; I started to follow people on there and Tableau Public — it immediately inspired me because of how effectively people were able to create unique visualizations while handling different datasets. It really captured my intrigue to create such visualizations.
After some time, I noticed the IronViz Feeder 3 Event in 2018 (Theme: water). (3) I have decided to participate (even though I was on the initial learning phase of Tableau, but that did not stop me from participating). After 15 days of hard work, I published my first ever IronViz feeder submission (see image below). I was really happy about how it turned out and proud of myself for completing the visualization 😄! I knew the fact that IronViz is really a tough competition where I had a chance to compete with amazing talents across the globe. To my astonishment, this viz has been selected in Top 10! After that, my vizzes the Tableau Community further embraced my visualization efforts. This event encouraged me even more to create and publish vizzes on Tableau Public.
AM: Who have been your sources of inspiration since working with data visualizations and how have they inspired you?
PKG: The #Datafam has been inspired and supported me from the beginning of my journey till now. I could say many people have inspired me in many different ways. Some of them are exceptionally good at visual aspects and some are good at technical skills. So, I try to learn unique skills from each one of them. But I want to mention Tableau Zen Master and my friend, Kevin Flerlage who has been my biggest inspiration! 😄
Kevin is a very good friend of mine. He inspires many people and I am lucky enough to be one of them. I have learned a number of things from Kevin & apart from Tableau — he inspired me to inspire others.
Below are some of my biggest inspirations in the community:
AM: Please explain your feelings winning your 1st viz of the day and Top-5 finishes in IronViz feeders; these accomplishments helped lead to your 2019 Vizzie Award for ‘Most Growth’. Modesty aside, you are a community icon. What were the hardest things you had to overcome to allow this growth?
PKG: In the beginning, it was hard, and I struggled to create visualizations, as I was not aware of best data visualization practices and techniques. I then prepared myself to learn about data visualization through blogs, web sessions and videos. I closely noticed what people are doing in the Tableau Community. I participated in Makeover Monday on a regular basis. Andy Kriebel (@VizWizBI) and Eva Murray’s (@TriMyData) feedback really helped me to shape up my data viz skills. I practiced vizzing regularly by participating in community projects including; Makeover Monday, Project Heath Viz, Iron Quest and also Iron Viz feeders.
I was astonished to know that my Makeover Monday viz Airbnb in Berlin was awarded as (Tableau Public) Viz of the Day on June 20, 2019 (my 1st) . Since then, I have earned three more VOTDs (Mico note… for those keeping score, that’s four)! I used to peek through VOTD gallery on a daily basis and I dig deep into each viz to understand how the viz has been created.
IronViz is a great platform to showcase your data analysis, visualization and storytelling skills. I never miss the opportunity to participate in IronViz. Outside of the aforementioned 2018 IronViz feeder, I participated in all three IronViz 2019 feeders. It was an amazing experience participating every time and I have learned so many things from judges’ feedback. I work hard to implement the feedback given by judges to continually improve my data visualization skills. I was really surprised and humbled to see my vizzes selected as Top-10 submissions in back to back feeders.
In addition to my surprise, I was nominated for and won ‘Biggest Growth 2019’ of the year with my friend Zach Bowders (@ZachBowders) by Tableau Wannabe Podcast at last year’s Tableau Conference. I was very proud as a data visualizer and an Indian to be honored with such an award.
AM: How has your life changed since you began your Tableau journey?
PKG: Tableau has changed my life completely since I started using it. I have received a lot of recognition for my work from my current and previous organizations. Because of Tableau work, I have my current opportunity with Beinex, Dubai.
Even better, I have friends across the globe and it is always a great experience to have conversations with friends in the Tableau community 😃. I have also created guest blogs and presented web sessions. It was a great experience to learn and share data-related knowledge with people. I am happy to know that I inspire people and I wish to continue inspiring people!
Priya Padham (co-editor, PP): Please explain the most helpful tools you use along with Tableau to make your data visualizations standout?
PKG: I generally use PowerPoint — it’s very handy in creating customized icons, headers and design elements required for my vizzes. I have created button icons using PowerPoint for chart choosing in my recent Makeover Monday viz, Car Insurance Rates in 2020.
Also, I use Photopea.com, an online photo editing tool (which looks similar to Photoshop) where anyone can create transparent image objects and photo edits easily. For icons, I always prefer flaticon.com where you will find lots of icons of different styles.
In my recent viz Google Play Store Apps — Analysis, I have used Adobe Illustrator to create Neumorphism design objects.
AM: You work full time and continue to publish exceptional vizzes on a regular basis. What inspires you to continue to push yourself in the public space and further develop your portfolio?
PKG: Yes, I do work full-time (8 to 9 hours a day). It can be hectic sometimes. But I always find time to create vizzes during my leisure time. Gradually, vizzing has become a hobby to me. If I find an interesting dataset or idea, I can’t resist creating a viz! 😆
AM: If someone is lurking in the data community, but hasn’t come in to join it. Why should they be involved and put themselves out there?
PKG: I would suggest people to join Twitter (who don’t already have an account) and start following Tableau people to engage with the Tableau community. I strongly recommend people should participate in projects like #MakeoverMonday, #ProjectHealthViz, #WorkoutWednesday, #IronQuest and Sports Viz Sunday. Also, as previously mentioned, people should to participate in IronViz feeders to challenge their data and design skills.
I am quite sure the datafam will always be there to support newbies and help them to grow. I wish people who are interested in data visualization to continuously practice, learn, and share knowledge with others. I truly believe, hard work will pay off for you one day!
AM: I like to end interviews by sharing a fun fact, hidden talent or guilty pleasure of the guest. Please share yours!
PKG: I love to do crafts (see image), watch cartoons and animation movies!
Viz of the Week
Sometimes data visualizations are more than something beautiful or meant to provide intense insight — they can engage by sparking curiosity in those that would have never thought to use it.
The charting here is relatively basic as it’s a stock (line) chart with an expected parameter to update the date range. The brilliance is when she figured out a way to make it act like a fun-tastic phone application; it’s so slickly designed I believe it would surprise a lot of people at 1st glance this is a Tableau viz.
I asked her a little bit about it and she said that saw a phone with a text on Teladoc’s site and her creative genius was launched (Mico note… my words). Another bit is that she designed it with Figma (the design tool that’s all the rage in the data visualization community).
Lindsay has been this blog’s 1st two-time Viz of the Week winner. Please check out her blog, Viz Zen Data. She will undoubtedly discuss this viz along with other great submissions following the end of May’s #ProjectHealthViz. (4)
This song and upbeat performance is the perfect remedy for the blues. I believe I read way back when it was released that Micheal Stipe (lead singer) wanted to write a song that it was nearly physically impossible to sing along with without smiling.
“Love” is a dark comedic romantic comedy for those who don’t like the cut and paste rom-com format. The show is quirky, slightly raunchy but well-written and the characters have realistic flaws. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if of interest is worth a shot.
1) If you live in a cave, then you may not be aware of the Flerlage Twins remarkable data visualization blog.
2) Here is the blog post on the no polygon approach.
3) The IronViz Feeder is a massive competition to have an opportunity to compete in IronViz — there are three feeder competitions. The winner of each has an opportunity to battle live at the annual Tableau Conference.
4) Another great feature released by Tableau Public on 5/23/20 is the ability to explore vizzes in your browser — previously you were only able to explore data visualizations if you had downloaded it from Tableau Desktop. You definitely want to take advantage of that generosity with this viz.