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 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.




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 if you’d like to register now or have questions.