Patrick Mulligan and Ben Gibson met while working together at Penguin Books, where Ben was a designer and Patrick was an editor. One afternoon while putting together a chart for a book, they began to wonder why no one was charting anything fun. They'd seen interminable pie charts on PowerPoint slides but had never seen a chart of, say, cocktail ingredients. Or the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Moreover, while they'd collaborated with authors to bring ideas to the printed page, they hadn't yet worked on anything that was fully theirs. So Patrick used his editorial background to do research, and Ben used his design expertise to lay out the charts. In September 2010, Ben and Patrick launched PopChartLab.com with two posters for sale: a taxonomy of rapper names and a family tree of beer varieties. Each Pop Chart Lab product begins with a topic of interest and represents hundreds of hours of research and design.
Today Pop Chart Lab has grown to 15 employees, and has released nearly 75 prints and a variety of housewares and apparel, with topics ranging from pasta shapes to baseball teams to coffee concoctions. They've recently built out a wood shop so they can offer frames and other finishing options made by hand in Brooklyn. Their charts are sold direct to customers through their website as well as through their wholesale dealers, who range from national retailers to dozens of smaller curated design stores. Pop Chart Lab has also created commissioned work for clients such as Tory Burch, ESPN, and the NBA.
The founders of Pop Chart Lab describe the design process for one of their poster-sized infographic prints, "The Nebula of NES Games."
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