The Guardian U.S.
Mona is a journalist with a passion for numbers. WE caught up with her earlier this year after her keynote at Iconosphere, a consumer insights conference in New Orleans. Mona’s notable work includes writing and presenting TV shows for the BBC, National Geographic and VICE, and she co-created the Emmy-nominated video series Vagina Dispatches. Her accomplishments don’t stop there—she also illustrates data. The sketches she makes were commended by the Royal Statistical Society and Information is Beautiful in 2016 and can be seen on her website.
Who do you look up to?
Florence Nightingale and W. E. B. DuBois.
What ignited your unique approach to your work?
Boredom, initially. Just doodling. It was also a feeling of alienation because I didn’t really fit into the data visualization community and didn’t want to play their game. I think claiming something with certainty is quite a privileged thing to do, and it is more important to be humble about your spirit of knowledge.
What does purpose mean to you?
I’m lucky to be able to focus a lot of my work on issues that matter to me. Purpose is natural and inherent when you care about the subject matter. Part of my work’s purpose is to re-sensitize people. It’s important to me that my illustrations get you to feel something.
What’s in your handbag?
Iconosphere conference pass, notebook of ideas, lip balm, moisturizer, pencil case, broken headphones, fluff & debris.
What app can’t you live without?
WhatsApp helps me connect with people who really matter to me.