Category: Community

Celebrating our year at Drawing Change

It was a year to celebrate! Here’s a few things we’re proud of at Drawing Change:

  • We supported dozens of meetings that upheld the values of learning, cross-sector collaboration, and being in good relationships with one another. Thank you for your partnerships – we were invited to facilitate and graphic record in 9 provinces, three territories, 5 states, 4 continents, and Indigenous communities (First Nations and Inuit) this year.
  • Congrats, City of Surrey on the Gold award for this 10-year Parks, Recreation and Culture plan. Tiaré Jung, Annalee Kornelsen and I worked with the great folks at Think MODUS for engagement including illustration and graphic recording

  • Giving back – we expanded the way we partner, mentor, and give back, including a brand new graphic recorder accelerator program
  • Anniversaries – congrats to Director of Operations and illustrator Carina Nilsson for the 1-year anniversary with DC
  • This Being Black and Muslim event was Tiaré Jung’s favourite event in 2018, where “Participant stories honour vulnerability and created a tangible human storytelling tool for sharing the impact of meaningful conversation beyond the room.”
  • Bilingual graphic recording – Annalee Kornelsen is one of Canada’s only French/English bilingual graphic recorders, and she supported Unifor in Halifax this year as well as translating posters for other projects. Merci!
  • Michelle Buchholz, as well as graphic recording far and wide, taught graphic recording skills grounded in culture to a community planning workshop in Terrace (near her home town, too!) 
  • Seeing that the Heiltsuk Nation had submitted one of my graphic recordings to the Museum of Anthropology for an important display 
  • EuViz 2018 in Denmark brought together visual practitioners in Europe. Loved Kelvy Bird’s session and co-hosting two sessions about giving back to the field with Brandy Agerbeck and addressing unconscious bias with Julie Stuart and Claudia Lopez
  • More writing and publishing, including the Drawn Together anthology being published in China soon, the upcoming Visual Practitioners Field Guide, and the DEI developmental evaluation e-book

In 2019, I’m looking forward to more professional development with the Emergent Scribing community, facilitation work with the World Health Organization, and more teaching. I want to celebrate your creativity in whatever form it takes – from napkin sketches to practicing on the office whiteboard, here’s to your ongoing creativity, wherever your meetings may take you.

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Our next Graphic Recording & Facilitation workshop is May 11 & 12, 2019! Registration is live on Eventbrite, and spots are filling up. Send us a note at hello@drawingchange.com if you have questions – we can’t wait to meet you!

graphic facilitation graphic recording facilitation tips

How to Have Better Meetings in 2019

When it started getting dark at 3pm, we knew it was time to reach out to our graphic facilitation community and compile our annual wrap-up post.

This time last year, we asked what the field of visual practice needed to do next – but was avoiding. This year, we wanted to know what advice our colleagues wished one other person needed to hear when planning a meeting in 2019. Here’s wisdom from a group of people who’ve attended over 1000 meetings.

Connecting Emotionally

Getting people moving and connecting throughout the meeting, not just the icebreakers. I wish people would ask: how can we keep people connecting on an emotional level. Let’s stop being afraid of passion and emotion and use it to support each other. We get stuck in thinking about the actionable items and things we can solve with best practices and vision statements, and really, I’ve seen all of that hard work become effortless when folks feel heard, safe, supported and are chatting like old pals. Keep the energy flowing and moving. Use humour and movement. – Annalee Kornelsen

Intentionally Create Culture Together

In 2019, I wish more meetings would centre connection and the culture we co-create. Ask participants what personal experiences and narratives are they contributing to the whole? What values bring them together? Step into the circle gets people standing, moving, figuring out where each other are coming from. Being able to share deeply about oneself and learn about others is an opportunity to build trust. I’ve also use photo cards to ask each contributor “when have you felt most alive/excited/passionate doing your work?” Overall, what tools will help people bring their full selves into the room? And then, how can you intentionally create a culture together? – Tiaré Jung

Indigenous Pedagogy and Intergenerational Inclusion

This year I was honoured to attend meetings led by Indigenous peoples, or where the focus was on Indigenous communities. As a Wet’suwet’en woman, it was uplifting to bring my own teachings into meetings. It is most beneficial to begin meetings with a territory acknowledgement and grounding exercise to ensure that all participants are present. Next, circle or meeting “agreements” to follow throughout the meeting can assist in completing the work in a good way. The successful meetings that I witnessed, allowed enough space and time for human connection, reflection, and capacity-building. My Elders have taught me that there must always be time for visiting and sharing food, and I so encourage this in each instance where we gather together. The greatest instances of self-reflection that I witnessed occur when space is given to youth and Elders to share their perspectives, especially within policy processes and strategic planning sessions. I wish that more space will be given to inter-generational sharing and planning in 2019! – Michelle Buchholz

Use Movement for Reflection

In 2019, I wish more meetings would include somatic exercises that get people moving in space to support reflection and discussion. I’ve been using a lot more blue tape on the ground this year to create shapes and structures that people can physically step into. For example, a tape “wheel” where people choose a perspective to stand in, a line that people step over when they’re ready to commit to action, or a mountain peak that people cross to explore a new land. It’s powerful! – Nevada Lane

Decolonize Your Facilitation

I wish for all non-Indigenous facilitators to take a bigger and more courageous step towards anti-racism, reparations, and reconciliation with Indigenous communities. It could be an infinite list – because how we work together is the work. Here’s an easy step: let’s eliminate these harmful phrases that pop up in boardrooms that are actually about colonization. We can start or deepen relationships, so we can be in meaningful partnerships. We can hire Indigenous facilitators or co-facilitators, or get them hired. We can move aside when it’s time to centre others, and we can move up to address racism. Here’s to reading more history books and trainings by Indigenous leaders. Let’s amplify Indigenous women and non-binary folks. Meetings can shift from hierarchical models to Indigenous methods that centre culture, such as circles and intergenerational learning. And we can get outside. We can do the work together, and support each other to keep going! – Sam Bradd

The Year of the Body

In 2019, I wish more meetings would get physical. Meetings are heady things: we talk, we think, we ideate, we brainstorm, we talk some more. Almost all the activity takes place from the neck up. We might as well be heads on sticks. I would dearly love for meetings to start making space for the rest of our being, through embodied activities like singing, theatre games, improv, dancing, walking in nature – anything that lets us use our whole bodies! It’s scary, because physicality opens up feelings, and feelings can be messy. But it can also be cathartic and transformative. I’ve seen roomfuls of people become joyously unified through choral singing. Witnessed life-changing insights arise from theatre games. Watched ideas flow abundantly after a reflective walk in the woods. Let’s make 2019 the Year of the Body and invite people’s whole person into our meetings! – Avril Orloff

Go Multi-Sensory

In my Meeting Fantasia, it’s the rule rather than the exception that meetings are participatory, multi-sensory, and experiential. I know that sounds jargon-y, so here’s what I mean: Humans are whole beings with diverse learning aptitudes. Some of us need to doodle to think, some need to build, some need to move the body, most of us need to do it all. Multi-modal learning shouldn’t be an oddity – it’s just common sense. Because of our work, I DO see meetings rising to that occasion, but I’d love to see a world in which there’s an improvisational maker/hacker/D.I.Y./D.I.T. mentality in most group settings, as well as a deep awareness of, and appreciation for, a variety of learning styles. Unlocking our unique potential matters; so, when I see multi-modal techniques that accelerate learning, I’m all in.

Random, itchy, side note/industry request: Please differentiate the terms “graphic facilitation” and “graphic recording” in your own mind and when talking to clients. These practices are so fundamentally different as to almost be light years apart. – Sunni Brown

 

More Love

In 2019, I wish more meetings would be less about power and more about love. When vulnerability is welcomed and celebrated, I find participants show up in a more fulsome way – shortcomings, anxieties, and all – creating an environment of respect and trust, where fear and anxiety are reduced. Further, I believe that meetings where risk and debate are recognized and welcomed, result in meaningful conversations where a group can get to what’s happening under the surface, and transformative ideas are allowed to emerge. Both of these conditions take courage from meeting organizers and hosts, but it’s worth it. – Mark Busse

Less Fixing

In 2019, I wish more meetings would include time to brainstorm and reflect without (yet) “fixing” anything. As dialogic leaders we need to resist the perception that jumping in is an efficient use of time and energy, so that we can stop “fixing” things by providing inappropriate solutions that mire us all down further and become just one more layer on what didn’t work already. We need to get bravely clear about things like what brainstorming really is and why silence isn’t failure, and that if the right people (those who are being served) aren’t in the room, we should just start over when they can be. – Aaron Johannes, PhD

Meditation and Visioning

I wish more meetings would give people a chance to do their own visioning. I led a group through a meditative journey looking at the landscape of their own work/business, then they drew what they saw. Imaginative and metaphorical images that deeply resonated with them showed up as maps and touchstones forward. I gave a brief lesson beforehand using Bikablo’s stick people so they felt comfortable drawing people. – Julie Stuart

Digital Graphic Recording

In 2019, I hope more meetings try digital graphic recording. I was fortunate this year to graphic record at conferences where digital graphic recording was projected on big screens (sometimes super-wide screens!), and shared on participants’ phones/laptops almost in real time. This is essential for facilitating better breakout group discussions, as people could reference the graphic recordings immediately. Participants could also post comments/questions on the digital graphics. – Tanya Gadsby

 

Slow Down

In 2019, I also hope meetings slow down and try not to run at light speed. People need time to connect, reflect, and have deeper conversations. Some of the most profound conversations I’ve captured in meetings have happened when there was no pressure on the clock – Tanya Gadsby

Begin by Jumping Straight to the Answer

Groups can spend an entire day in conversation landing on the “answers” only at the end of the meeting. Instead, begin the conversation when people are fresh and ask participants to jump straight to the answer. Once these are elicited (we suggest capturing it visually), the conversation that follows will be from an advanced, richer place.

Instructions:

  • In an opening roundtable, go once around the room.
  • Participants have 30 seconds to introduce themselves briefly.
  • Ask, “We’ll spend the next several hours on shared actions that will transform you to do XYZ. For now, let’s jump right to the answer: if there’s one change we could make to transform XYZ, what’s that one change?”
  • Keep it moving rapidly and hold people to one answer.
  • Capture the roundtable visually and reflect back on it at the end of the meeting.
  • Ask, what did they discover? Did one or two answers wind up being major foci in the meeting and why?

This tool helps teams get clear on the big things they want to do, and lined up for actions that get results. – Lisa Edwards and Lisa Arora

Four Ways to be Different

In 2019, I wish more meetings would try… to include outside perspectives in their work. Bring in artists, engineers, community workers, a musician, etc. See how different perspectives can open up your creativity and perspectives in problem solving.

In 2019, I wish more meetings would be… open to creativity. Too often we see meetings fall into the same patterns. I’d like to see more meetings step out of their comfort zone.

In 2019, I wish more meetings would become… a place for dynamic conversations. A safe place to talk and allow time for synthesis conversations to happen.

And in 2019, I wish more meetings would include… storytelling and visualization. Fewer slideshows and ‘sit and get’ information sessions and more sharing and participant engagement. – Liisa Sorsa

Braver Conversations

In 2019, I hope more meetings will create space for braver conversations and deeper reflection. That’s where I’ve seen meaningful change.

Consider:

  • Go deep with community agreements. Don’t just name a few and ask for agreement. Ask participants to discuss, take ownership of and uphold agreements that will help create a brave space. As the meeting progresses, check in periodically on how they are working. If something feels misaligned with the agreements, pause and reflect.

When partnering with a visual facilitator, let her explain the visuals and reflect back what she witnessed prior to a gallery walk. And give participants a clear intention to hold while looking at the visuals, using prompts like: what does this evoke in you? What else isn’t reflected her? Share in small and large groups. – Claudia Lopez

Encourage More Stories

In 2019, I wish more meetings would encourage people to tell stories – in any form. We often forget that communication is not just about relaying messages, it’s also about creating connections. Stories are a powerful way to share a vision, re-launch a brand, shift an organization’s culture, manage complex change, and more. At your next meeting, ditch the PowerPoint and bulleted lists. Don’t ask for a report out or a presentation, ask your groups to tell a story.

Here are 4 simple questions to get you started: What is happening? Who does it involve? Why does it matter to your audience? What’s the challenge? How can they help? – Sophia Liang

 

Include Time for Listening

I wish that more meetings would include time for open, unstructured listening. So many meetings are scheduled down to the minute with the fear that “we don’t want to waste time.” Listening is never a waste of time. We do need to commit to it – and create the space for it. Find time in your agenda to let it emerge. You might be surprised what comes up. – Anthony Weeks

 

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Compiled by Sam Bradd at Drawing Change. Stay in touch about 2019 visual facilitation workshops in Vancouver BC, facilitation, and ways to make your meetings matter. @sambradd

Graphic Facilitation Workshop wrap up – Vancouver Canada

The Drawing Change team just wrapped up its annual Visual Facilitation training in Vancouver! This year we welcomed participants from the UK, the east and west coast of the US, Canada, and Japan. Here’s to your continued visual success, fellow visual thinkers. Here’s video highlights from our training, and thanks so much for the opportunity to learn together.

Reflections on new things from this workshop:

Eating together.  The dinner before the workshop starts is still such a highlight. It builds a comraderie and greater trust between participants – before we need to get vulnerable and make art together.

Towards Greater Cultural Safety. This year, I asked trainer Shawna Duncan, and colleagues Michelle Buchholz and Tiaré Jung to host a conversation about working with cultural safety and visuals. (At first, I thought a panel might be good, but Shawna guided me into how we could use Indigenous methodologies instead for which I am so grateful.) Grounded in the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we used a variety of methods to discuss how to be in relationship, draw and listen wisely, and then how to find more resources to continue this work in our own lives.

Iteration. Philosophically, I’m refining my training style. I believe we creatively learn best when we try right away, then practice and iterate. So instead of spending an entire morning with our sketchbooks working small, we learn the basics and then get up to apply them to the wall right away to learn graphic recording principles. I’ve dropped some of the content-delivery I used to do, and focus instead on setting up participants to learn with each other at their own pace. There is no finish line, there is no desired outcome – only to be able to provide the opportunity for people to learn what they want.

Better Reflection. Speaking of peer learning, we also debriefed in a new way on Day 1. I didn’t go to art school, but I took one course in university that gave me a taste for what an art critique is like (anxiety, judgey, lonely) and I don’t think it’s a positive experience to build up creativity and resilience. So instead of me singling out each person’s work for feedback/feed-forward, I asked every person in the room to take post-it notes, walk around, and identify a strength on each person’s graphic recording. By noticing what we admire in others’ work, it’s often a sign for what we want to work on in ourselves / in our own work. One of those “one finger pointing out, three fingers pointing back” things. And such a success! Everyone had at least a dozen positive affirmations on their first graphic recording poster.

New: Third Day for next workshop. Speaking of more feedback and personalized attention, I think I’ll be adding a third and optional day to the next workshop. I’d like to experiment with a third day for longer projects, smaller groups, and the ability for me to work 1:1 with people who want that kind of learning environment. (For an excellent example of this kind of learning, I’d also recommend Brandy Agerbeck’s Lab – max of 6 people, in Chicago). Some participants can only take 2 days off work, so the 2-day workshop will stay intact – but some people would want to immediately be able to apply what they’ve learned in a supportive environment, and we can do that together on day 3.

I noticed that the field overall has grown by leaps and bounds from when I began teaching workshops. Participants are curious for resources, tools and practices that weave into their existing work and how to add visuals – I can’t wait to see where we will all go next.

Contact us at hello@drawingchange.com.

NEW resource that just launched – a custom magazine with resources, tips, and the foundations of a visual vocabulary for participants. For now, available only in-person at workshops.

Read more about the workshop content here, and the next workshop will be May 2019.

Introducing the 2018 Drawing Change Community Scholars

September is officially in full swing – our boxes of fresh Neuland markers have arrived, and we’re busy organizing for our sold out Graphic Facilitation and Recording Workshop this October.

Once again, two talented Community Scholars will join the course next month: Adriana Contreras and Aaron Lao. Each Scholar is involved in community activism, amplifying voices and creating inclusive spaces through their respective visual practices.

Introducing Adriana and Aaron, who will tell us a little bit about themselves!

“Visuals and art-making has been the best vehicle to navigate a lengthy and ever-evolving relationship with migration” – Adriana Contreras

Adriana Contreras, and her father Juan Contreras; Photo by Ewa Jagla

Adriana Contreras is a visual artist, graphic designer, avid arts advocate, and a dancer at heart. She moved from Bogotá, Colombia to Vancouver, unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territories, with her family in 1998. Since then, she’s worked and volunteered with arts organizations such as SFU Galleries, New Performance Works Society, The Vancouver Art Gallery, The Burnaby Arts Gallery, The Latin American Film Festival, among others. She has also worked in countless projects with her father, photographer and painter, Juan E Contreras.

Andriana writes, “For me,  visuals and art-making helps navigate a lengthy and ever-evolving relationship with migration. It helps me understand the place where we landed and has become home, what it means to be a migrant in a racialized body on unceded First Nations lands, and what are the responsibilities that arrive with the privilege of living here; continually and simultaneously looking and the personal, the local and the global to make sense of the world.”

A book that  inspires me is Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay. From my undergrad, it impacted the way I see the world, understand the history of colour and the social and political implications of our everyday choices as humans and as artists. What do we value and why? What are the consequences of our desires, expectations and demands on the natural world? What meanings do colours hold and how have they evolved? It is a fabulous read, filled with a wealth of stories and landscapes.

 

 

 

 

“Graphic Recording has been an important tool to draw out what people feel is most important about the culture and community of Chinatown, by recording their voices at community events and pop-up activations.” – Aaron Lao

 

Photo provided

Aaron Lao is an urban planner from Vancouver, who has always been fascinated by this city and its communities. As a student, he became involved in the Chinatown community, as part of a new movement of young people concerned about the cultural vibrancy of this historic part of Vancouver.

Aaron uses graphic recording during sessions on the future of Vancouver’s Chinatown. It’s an important tool to draw out what people feel is most important, by recording their voices at community events and pop-up activations. As Aaron has settled into his profession and has built relationships in these communities, he looks to ways that graphic recording can help community members express their desires, build understanding, and enable a strong public process.

I have been reading a very good book about cooking called Salt Fat Acid Heat, which expresses how it should feel to cook, even without a recipe, and which inspires me to expand my cooking horizons. It has great illustrations that are convey information graphically.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Visual practice belongs in the hands of everyone – from the classroom to community groups and the boardroom. Drawing Change is proud to get these tools into as many hands as possible.

Thanks to everyone who’s taking the jump and bringing even more creativity into their lives at the fall Graphic Facilitation workshop – see you then!  We’ve started a list for the 2019 workshop – send us a line at hello@drawingchange.com if you’d like to register now or have questions.

visual facilitation books 2018 on bookshelf

Our favourite visual facilitation books to add to your backpack

Summer is in full swing – hopefully this means you’re working at a slower pace lately, and maybe have a little extra time to flip a few pages at the beach. Personally, I’m trying to catch up on my reading-for-fun. I asked the Drawing Change team to send me one book that they found helpful along their visual journeys.

Half are outside the ‘foundational’ visual practice books that often inform our work. And, if you’re new to the field, you’ll also see a list of classic books that are perfect for learning how to think with your pen.

We hope you’ll find all these titles useful!

“Unstuck by Keith Yamashita and Sandra Spataro, Ph.D. is one of the very first “design thinking toolkit” type books that I came across – and it is concise, flexible, funny, and makes great use of graphics. Keith’s company, SYPartners works with leading companies and organizations to help them evolve and innovate. Published back in 2004, the book has since spawned an app, a website, and a workshop series…but the book is a pocket-size tool that you will reach for again and again.” – Snow Dowd

“I think I’ve bought 8 copies of adrienne maree brown’s book Emergent Strategy to give away so far. It’s about complexity, radical self-love, and community in your facilitation, with a sprinkling of science fiction/futurism.” – Sam Bradd

 

 

“A great practical 101 – The Graphic Facilitator’s Guide by Brandy Agerback breaks down the process of live graphic recording. This guide is filled with friendly diagrams that help you find the balance in listening, deciding, and drawing. It’s the kind of book that begins to uncover what’s under the surface of the tip of the iceberg.” – Tiaré Jung

“This book provides instructions and illustrations on the basics of drawing, designing, painting and carving in the Northwest Coast Indigenous art. It reminds me that we must continuously practice and work towards our drawing goals.” –  Michelle Buchholz (Wet’suwet’en) (note from Sam: please, if you’re not Indigenous, don’t copy or appropriate Indigenous art.)

“I recommend The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. In life, we spend a lot of time measuring results against specific outcomes. This book reminds readers that everything we experience is made up. We can shift our thoughts, to experience life based on a frame of possibility. We can focus on how we contribute, so we look at things in a new way. We can embrace the way things actually are but shift our perspective.” – Melissa Breker

 

“Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards is my absolute go-to recommendation for anyone who wants to learn how to really draw. It changed the way I see in a profound way.” – Annalee Kornelsen

 

“Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture is one of those books that I have kept from my university days. It’s not a leisurely read, but it’s a great introductory text that works to instill critical awareness in the reader when considering visual culture, and visual symbols of representation. How do the images we encounter influence us? How can we break out of our assumptions and consider inclusive (or new) ways of seeing and creating images? There are limits to its theoretical frameworks, and could do with some updating and inclusion of other perspectives, but it’s a useful foundational text with which to build a visual language upon.” – Carina Nilsson

 

“Kelvy Bird’s way of scribing, Generative Scribing, has changed my practice. The workshop and books are gifts to the field. This book describes “generative scribing” and “key concepts that inform and cultivate a scribe’s inner capacities of being, joining, perceiving, knowing, and drawing.” – Sam Bradd

 

Classic texts for sketchnoting and graphic facilitation

• The Sketchnote Handbook: the illustrated guide to visual note taking – by Mike Rhode

• Draw To Win and Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures – Dan Roam

• Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences Paperback – Nancy Duarte

• Design a Better Business: New Tools, Skills, and Mindset for Strategy and Innovation – with Lisa Kay Solomon, Justin Lokitz, and Patrick Van Der Pijl

• The Doodle Revolution – Unlock the Power To Think Differently – Sunni Brown

• Draw Your Big Idea: the Ultimate Creativity Tool for Turning Thoughts into Action and Dreams Into Reality – Nora Herting and Heather Willems

• The Front of The Room: a book on facilitation by experienced facilitators – by Dan Newman

Drawn Together Through Visual Practice – edited by Brandy Agerbeck, Kelvy Bird, Sam Bradd and Jennifer Shepherd

… and stay tuned for the Graphic Facilitation Field Guide coming out in 2019!

Neuland markers sam bradd graphic facilitation supplies on table

FAQ roundup and how to get started as a graphic recorder

It’s time for a Frequently Asked Questions! Summer roundup of questions I’ve been asked from folks new to the field lately:

I’m new. How do get started as a graphic recorder?

photo: CIPMM (2015)

I love this question. Welcome, fellow visual thinker! Six opinionated ideas and highly subjective advice:

  1. Start. I want you to START drawing! I am not a believer in just “following your passion”. I think you should be inspired to be creative, yes, and make sure you put the work in to get good at things. Don’t leap into your passion and then give up too soon, especially when it gets hard. I don’t wait for creativity to land in my lap. I have to make stuff, and see where it goes. And then, once you make something you have to share it. How will people know what you want to do, otherwise?
  2. Your first projects should personally interest you. Be proud to share them. Deliberately choose to work for trusted people for a few low-stakes projects. Build your confidence.
  3. Find a mentor. This field enables people to bring their professional experience (coaching, facilitating, leading) and apply it to visual work. Like many creative professions with a majority of sole practitioners, the foundation based on apprenticeships, networks, and learning from peers. It’s rapidly growing and I think mentors help us see how collectively as practitioners we can help organizations, clients, individuals.
  4. Take a workshop. Research. Read books. Set up a Skype call. Go to a meetup. Ask your mentor if you can watch them work at a public or appropriate event.  Go to a conference. Try to read forums before asking a 12,000 person Facebook group “what is the best pen to use?” And, take a graphic facilitation workshop to find like-minded people and start building your community. 
  5. Think about how you want to start a business. There’s no one right way. Maybe you’ll have a business partner, maybe you’ll have an unusual niche. Look to other creative fields for the business model that works for you. At minimum, you should clearly show people what you want to be hired for. No sense putting a link to your tattoo website up if you want to be hired to sketchnote.
  6. Be generous. If you’re asking for people’s time, effort, emotional labour from others: ask them/see how you can help them in a reciprocal way.

Favorite markers?

I’m a Neuland ambassador. I love that they’re refillable, non-toxic, and come in vibrant colours and tips, especially the Big Ones. I am a huge, huge fan. Let’s talk markers anytime, and I’ll show you how these ones are designed to not even roll off the table.

What’s are most important skills a graphic facilitator needs to have? 

We are doing more than drawing – we are facilitating and leading, and helping others see their own thoughts. This month I might say: Listening and decision-making about what marks to make; awareness and skills to work on bias; empathy and a strong sense of personal leadership.

Last year I might have said patience, an ability to be reflective, a curiosity about learning (you can’t just draw what you think is happening). This is one of those “one finger pointing out, three fingers pointing back” types of questions.

What you notice or appreciate in others is also something you’re noticing in yourself, of course.

How is this a job? Why haven’t I heard about it? 

RIGHT? Pretty amazing job! Graphic facilitators are becoming more popular – so you may see them more now. But the field began in the 1970s, so it also has a long history, practices, and its own methods. Some folks work inside organizations, and some practitioners are consultants.

Do you pre-plan your layouts? 

No, and yes. I start with a blank page for graphic recording and most facilitation now. When I’m doing live work I am deciding as we go: I am matching the type of structure to the format of the meeting. Open plenary dialogue looks different than rapid-fire report outs, or a strategic plan deciding “three action steps”. These are emergent and not planned ahead of time, because facilitation and scribing is (or can be) emergent.

And when I facilitate meetings, I do pre-plan things in templates – when the group needs to see the structure in a specific way. If we need to do a “what are three next steps” for strategic planning meetings, or using a metaphor to help the group orient themselves over time – structure helps.

New graphic recorders should definitely practice planning sketches and layouts for live graphic recording and beyond. Have a mini sketchbook of layouts that you can turn to when you’re under drawing pressure – I have to mix it up, otherwise all panel presentations look the same (yawn).

graphic faciliatation: This wasn’t pre-planned, but also, it’s not random. Their theory of change swoops in from the left, the focus of their whole organization is central. Drawn over 2.5 hours

 

You travel a lot. What’s the best place you’ve been? 

This is a fun question, because in North America a lot of graphic facilitators are consultants who travel widely – it’s not required, but I love it. (I also follow the rules – I have a visa to work in the US and Canada.) All countries and projects have their unique joys. It’s more about the people than a particular location. I’d rather be with kind people in northern BC than a fancy hotel where no one is using what I’m contributing. But since you asked, there was a project in Tanzania where I was working in a tent in the tropical heat …with a security guard whose job it was to prevent the baboons from climbing on the tables! Work has brought me to 10 countries and remote locations, and I’m noticing more and more – globally and locally we are all working on such similar problems: communication, belonging/connection, displacement, and climate. The world definitely needs more ways of communicating with other in empathetic ways – and I think visuals are one way to do that.

Do I need to be a good artist to learn to do what you do? 

I think about graphic recording/facilitation like writing. Mostly, we don’t take a 2-day course and then suddenly create the Pulitzer Prize winning novel (and if you did, congratulations and then that novel was in you the whole time, no matter who your teacher was!).

I believe writing is a practice, a craft, and maybe also a calling; we all need writing skills even if we don’t become novelists. It’s the same as drawing – if you’re using drawing to communicate, or to help people think through ideas – it doesn’t need to be so fancy. It just needs to get onto the page.

This way, graphic facilitation and graphic recording are part of your toolbox.

… What other questions do you have, fellow visual thinker?  Post your other favourite questions in the comments and I’ll do a Round 2 later on.

2018 workshop with early bird pricing until September 1: