Excited to see Copenhagen this summer! I’m co-facilitating two workshops at the EuViz 2018 conference for visual practitioners, and I thought it was a great opportunity to share resources I’m using these days to help me grow, and change. (And help me recover from making mistakes. I make lots of mistakes.) What’s most important is that it’s not just about what you draw. Our work is informed before we pick up the pen.
Julie Stuart and Claudia Lopez (bios below) and I are facilitating “A Brave space: exploring bias and how it shows up in the pen.”
Live graphic recording created in tandem by Avril Orloff and Corrina Keeling
On October 29th we celebrated the release of our new book, Drawn Together through Visual Practice! We had a great turnout for the book launch event, which took place at Gallery Gachet in Vancouver, bringing together local facilitators, visual practitioners, friends, curious creatives, and even our moms.
Local authors gave short presentations on their work, and facilitators in attendance shared some practices, including a live graphic recording, and fielded questions from the audience.
The event was hosted by Stina Brown, MC extraordinaire. Stina’s book chapter explores how to connect the self to the planet using facilitation. In these times of great uncertainty, finding ways to lead groups into taking action is empowering. Stina also shared an activity with the audience, which is often used by graphic facilitators: a spectrogram that can be easily set up to ask a group questions.
Local author and graphic facilitator Aftab Erfan gave a short presentation on her chapter about Deep Democracy, which uses visuals to help explain what’s under the surface. Aftab works with groups to help unearth what is in the unconscious in the room, and the audience definitely learned more about itself that day!
We were also treated to a presentation by author Aaron Johannes-Rosenberg on his chapter about PATH: a visual process to help people with disabilities dream of a full life and a plan to make it happen.
I spoke about my chapter about using cultural safety and cultural humility. Originally, it was my Master’s project – but after writing about anti-racism and graphic recording, I realized it came down to this basic question. are we drawing whiteness? And my answer was yes. So now you don’t have to read the thesis. I decided to answer a more interesting question instead: How can visual practitioners work with cultural safety and cultural humility? For more on my chapter, check out my 4-part blog series on using cultural safety and cultural humility.
Here’s me talking while Avril and Corrina work on their amazing graphic recording for the book launch. Vancouver is lucky to have such a strong visual practitioner community!
Thanks to everyone who came out, and for making the book launch a great success!
If you’ve seen a graphic recorder in action, you might be curious how we listen and draw at the same time. And it’s a good question, because listening is more important than drawing in this job. At a recent event, I found myself listening with confidence in a new way — so I thought I’d share three listening tips I used. These graphic recordings aren’t the fanciest images – because I’m more excited to show you behind the scenes!
I was invited to scribe the Enhanced Recovery Collaborative Outcomes Congress in January. This day was the conclusion of a program run across British Columbia to improve surgery outcomes for patients. Each local group reported back on their challenges, successes, and where they were heading next.
Graphic recording for the healthcare sector— usually with researchers and clinicians — can often mean swimming in a sea of PowerPoint. Sessions can often be a full day of 15-minute presentations each with 20 – 40 slides. (If you’re curious, the all-time record I’ve seen is 70 slides.) For a graphic recorder, it’s a firehose of information.
Listening trick #1: Listening for the setup
In the health sector the takeaway is always the last slide. It’s possibly the academic influence, but I’ve learned this is part of the health-listening pattern. So while I’m recording I’m listening for the setup. Whenever possible, it’s great to get key information from speakers ahead of time – but we all know this isn’t always possible. And speakers, you can help the visual practitioner by telling them before you step on stage what is your main findings or key takeaway, even if you don’t reveal it to the audience until the end.
Listening trick #2: Listening for images
At this event, for the first 30 seconds to first minute of each talk I didn’t draw, instead I just listened for a metaphor or shape. I used this to structure a streamlined version of the content. These weren’t images found in the powerpoint at all, and this can be a breakthrough.
I heard various images; Sometimes it was descriptive, like “overlapping roles.” Sometimes it was jargon, or a common phrase like “roadmap to success.” Others were a challenge — I heard concentric rings, a path, a mountain.
Sometimes a speaker will choose a metaphor for their opening slide – but before you commit the beautiful picture to the page, listen to discover if the speaker will use this throughout the talk.
Listening trick #3: Listening for difference
I deliberately chose to not draw the ERAS collaborative program itself, as we had covered that in other visuals. This engagement was celebrating each local program’s success, so I was listening for what made them unique. This “Listening for difference” is an example of how graphic recorders can ask our clients for the purpose of our listening. Together, you and your client can identify themes to guide your listening. Is it themes of innovation? Communication? Or in this case, what is unique.
What helped: Building familiarity
I’d been working with this team for about 6 months, so I had absorbed the acronyms and program arc. I was familiar with the alphabet soup. Specifically, in a separate studio project (set of digital posters, a sample below), I had interviewed each individual team about their work so I also had a preview of what topics would come up. We created a customized, digital poster for each work site, and then made a summary poster to wrap up the major themes. Teams saw their work reflected in unique, custom images.
This digital poster from the interview series went on to win an award in the storyboard category at the Quality Forum held by the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council.
A final element that supported listening and reflection: we created an interactive area (often called a knowledge wall) to show that the organization “was listening”, too.
So the next time you are listening and drawing a session with a ‘firehose of information’, remember the different ways you can listen (with your ears and other senses, too!). Even under challenging conditions, as practitioners we can encourage ourselves to stay focussed and bring our best listening to each moment – for a better result for the images, and also the process.
Spread the word, Vancouver BC Canada has an extraordinary number of people working with live visual thinking. This week I hosted a social to gather like-minded folks. It was a total blast. Potluck dinner and wine, gifts from Wacom made it special, and financial support from the International Forum of Visual Practitioners (IFVP) made it happen. And two people traveled four hours to get here from Seattle and Victoria, so we know we’re onto something!
We shared new tools that inspire us, what got us interested in this work, and I held a demo of Wacom styli including the new Fineline (lots of oohing and ahhhing) and the Duo. With a room full of creative people, everyone made a quick and colourful get-well soon card for a colleague on the ipad. Even people who had never used a styli saw how intuitive it can be, and it’s always fun to try new things in a supportive environment. Lots of eating, of course, and if someone arrived knowing only one other person, we balanced the party with informal mingling and then a couple of ’rounds’, so by the end of the night everyone was on a first-name basis.
You might be curious as to why one would want to invite the “competition” over for dinner, but it’s really the opposite. IFVP has always believed we need to grow this field. It’s a fine balance in a field of solopreneurs, but I strongly believe that supporting each other is more important – abundance builds more opportunities. Growing this field means being thoughtful and deliberate – projects get more complex and more skilled team members are needed. Having a strong network means we can rely on each other when a client needs a practitioner and you’re already booked. And, it’s mentorship: we all need advice, support, and even though the Graphic Facilitation facebook group is amazing, sometimes a local connection is important. I like to compare visual thinking to graphic design: there might be a zillion graphic designers, and yet there’s always room for more. People carve out their niches and expertise, the field scales with accreditation and standards, and everyone wins. (Just no $5 fivr logos, thanks.)
If you’re in the Vancouver BC-area, we meets next in April-ish. Victoria, Seattle you’re more than welcome to keep joining us. Our events will alternative socials with skill sharing. Last time Yolanda Liman showed us recording on the ipad. New ideas for future events include visual storytelling, facilitation skills, animation, and more.
Beyond Vancouver, the IFVP exists to build this type of community on a global scale. IFVP has members in 29 countries (at least) – and wants to see more local gatherings wherever visual thinkers live.
IFVP meets next for the annual conference in Austin Texas this July… more on that soon!
Special thanks to my my co-host and fellow practitioner Rosanna von Saacken.
The Dr Peter Centre celebrated the 10th anniversary of their building, and this infographic tells the story of their success.
From the outside, the building is distinctive. It combines a heritage house with a modern building. But it’s the inside that is even more striking. Their unique model of care provides support to people living with HIV who are also impacted by poverty, mental health, addictions, and homelessness. The Dr Peter Centre provide meals, clinical contacts, residential care, and much needed supports.
Congratulations to the Dr Peter Centre on their achievements, and here’s to their continued, important work. Consider donating at www.drpeter.org.
I love organizing information, and maps are one way to visualize neighbourhood assets.
This time I photographed my process before it hit the recycling bin.
For this project, the final image was going to fit on an 8.5 x 11 inch page, so I got out paper that’s about 1.5 times as big. Working from an Elections BC map, I sketched the map as a rectangle and put in the boundaries. I had a list of icons that were going to fit on the map – community centres, the library, other resources – and I wanted to see where they spread out.
Drawing it in a big square helped me see where things were placed in the neighborhood, but it was a bit boring.
Next, I redrew the map slanting with a perspective towards the water. It’s more interesting and the buildings were going to give it height.
The next draft I thought I’d add people or symbols for each building: books at the library, recreation at the community centre … and dropped that idea once I realized I couldn’t encompass the diversity of activities. That would have to wait for a different type of mapping project – social mapping or community mapping, and not just a location-based map.
Getting closer …. There were a few edits made at this stage: moving the Vancouver East Cultural Centre to the correct side of Hastings (oops) and adding the high schools.
Next up: a cleaner copy to show the Vancouver-Hastings Office.
The last step was to get up early, make coffee, clean all my tools, and carefully paint it in watercolour and ink a little bigger than the final image size. Then I taped it down, photographed the watercolour outside on a cloudy day, and brought it into Adobe CS6 for the final work. You can see this painting is a little more brown than the final version, which was given more pops of red and yellow.
And here’s the final image again:
There’s richness in maps as a community-building tool. They’re a powerful way to find out about communities. It’s often called community-based asset mapping and here are some quick resources on that topic: