samizdat drafting co.

Christian Swinehart

email githubsamizdatco


  • Rhode Island School of Design (2008)

    M.F.A. | Graphic Design

    Thesis work centered on information graphics, design systems, and typography. Received the school’s Award of Excellence in my final year and an intramural research grant in 2006.

  • Brandeis University (2005)

    Ph.D. | Computational Neuroscience

    Studied under Laurence F. Abbott with research published in the journals Network, Neural Computation, and Neurocomputing and presented at multiple Society for Neuroscience and Cosyne conferences.

  • Dickinson College (1998)

    B.S. | Cognitive Science

    Graduated with a self-developed major whose curriculum I designed by combining psychology, neurobiology, computer science, and philosophy coursework with a final independent project.


  • Visiting Assistant Professor (2019–)

    Pratt Institute | Brooklyn, N.Y.

    Currently teaching Data Integrity twice a year as a senior elective to students in the Communications Design department.

  • Part-time Faculty (2017–)

    Parsons | New York, N.Y.

    Now teaching my third year of Data Visualization & Information Aesthetics in the Fall and supervising masters thesis projects in Major Studio II in the Spring for the m.s. in Data Visualization program.

  • Adjunct Professor (2015–2017)

    Rhode Island School of Design | Providence, R.I.

    Created and taught an elective in the Graphic Design department called Lies, Damned Lies, and Data Visualization for three years and co-taught a semester of Graduate Studio I.

  • Guest Critic

    Columbia University (2018, 2019)
    Parsons m.s. in Data Visualization (2017)
    School of Visual Arts (2014, 2015)

Professional Experience

  • Design Partner (2010–)

    Office of Unspecified Services | Brooklyn, N.Y.

    Web, motion, and print design in collaboration with Takaaki Okada. Recent clients include The New York Times, Citibank, Yale, Boxcar Press, Ennead, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Allied Works, and Mitch Epstein.

  • Visualization Developer (2011–2013)

    Bloomberg Visual Data | New York, N.Y.

    Data visualization, user interface design, and development of interactive products covering politics, society, and the economy.

  • Interactive Designer (2007–2010)

    Pentagram | New York, N.Y.

    User experience and development on Lisa Strausfeld’s National Design Award winning team. Clients included Gallup, Lincoln Center, olpc, Litl, and the Museum of Arts and Design.

Client Work

  • New Bagehot Project (2019–)

    Yale’s Program on Financial Stability was created in the aftermath of 2008 and engages in research that leaves us better prepared to respond to (or ideally prevent) future economic meltdowns. This project aims to exhaustively catalog the history of financial crises and evaluate the effectiveness of the various attempts at ameliorating them.

  • Allied Works (2018)

    Developed a portfolio site showcasing the work of this New York & Portland-based architecture firm. Designed in collaboration with Lisa Strausfeld and Takaaki Okada.

  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2017)

    Designed figures for an ieee publication written by my longtime scientific collaborator, Dr. Kristofer Bouchard.

  • Citibank Account Dashboard (2015)

    Developed visualizations as part of a redesign of the account interface shown to checking and credit card customers on the web and mobile apps. My diagrams were used to show trends across transaction histories and helped monitor balances, expenses, and savings goals.

  • Bloomberg Billionaires Index (2014)

    The Billionaires Index visualized the wealth of the world’s 500 richest people—information previously only available through the Bloomberg Terminal. It was designed by the Visual Data team where I contributed the front-end development, interaction design, and data api.

  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro Website (2008)

    An early instance of 3d interaction design on the web, this portfolio site presented the work of the artists and architects at this groundbreaking firm within a VR-like, spatially organized environment.


  • A Radically Condensed History of Time

    My current research uses visualization methods to make sense of chronological nonlinearities within literary narratives. The primary dataset is the text and structure of David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest. Its length, enormous number of characters, and flashback-heavy plotting make it an ideal subject for investigation.

  • One Book, Many Readings

    A visual analysis of the Choose Your Own Adventure books of my youth. The project examines the structure of choices in the books and how it changed over the course of the series. Animations allow you to see patterns among the many unique paths through each of the books.

  • Plot Device

    PlotDevice is a Macintosh application used for computational graphic design. It provides an interactive Python environment where you can create two-dimensional graphics and output them in a variety of vector, bitmap, and animation formats. It is meant both as a sketch environment for exploring generative design and as a general purpose graphics library for use in external Python programs.

  • Arbor

    In a number of projects I’ve made use of force-directed layout routines for constructing network diagrams. Arbor is a javascript library that abstracts away the physics simulation and provides hooks for rendering the resulting graphs in the developer’s choice of canvas, SVG, or HTML.

  • bdbgs!

    After scraping data from the Bedbug Registry and New York’s 311 system, I created an interactive map to view incidents and animate the sequence over time. Clicking the play button begins the march from 2007’s relatively quiet scene to the explosion of reports in 2010 & ’11.

  • Echolalia

    In collaboration with Michael Brainard’s lab at U.C.S.F. I visualized statistical patterns in Zebra Finch vocalization data as a way to unravel the ‘grammar’ of birdsong and the neural circuitry underlying it.


  • Pattern Recognition (2008)

    MFA thesis | Rhode Island School of Design

    advisor: Matthew Monk
    program head: Bethany Johns

  • Dimensional Reduction for Reward-based Learning (2006)

    Network: Computation in Neural Systems 17(3): 235–252
  • Response Modulation: A Mechanism for the Guidance of Learning (2005)

    Ph.D. dissertation | Brandeis University

    advisor: Laurence F. Abbott
    program head: Eve Marder

  • Supervised Learning through Neuronal Response Modulation (2005)

    Neural Computation 17: 609–631
  • Control of Network Activity through Neuronal Response Modulation (2004)

    Neurocomputing 58–60: 327–335

Conference Presentations

  • Society for Neuroscience (2002–2004)

    Orlando, New Orleans, & San Diego
  • Cosyne: Computational and Systems Neuroscience (2004)

    Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Long Island
  • CNS: Annual Computational Neurosciences Meeting (2003)

    Alicante, Spain


  • Programming Languages

    Python, Javascript, Rust, C, Objective C, Java, Perl, ActionScript, Lisp
  • Graphics Environments

    Canvas, SVG, P5, Zdog, D3, PlotDevice, Processing, Three.js
  • Data Analysis

    NumPy, Pandas, Seaborn, SQL, MATLAB, Matplotlib, BeautifulSoup
  • Front-end

    React, jQuery, Handlebars, Lodash, Chroma.js, Less
  • Server-side

    Nginx, Apache, Docker, CouchDB, Node, Express.js, Tornado, Babel
  • Applications

    Illustrator, InDesign, Sketch, Photoshop, Excel, Max/MSP, git

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