Working alongside the talented cartoonist, Andrew Fyfe

Working alongside the talented cartoonist, Andrew Fyfe

I sometimes get asked if I do ‘cartooning’. welcome

On the surface, I get that what we do as visual recorders can LOOK like cartooning and certainly some of our global tribe are super-skilled in this area…

(I am thinking back to the loving / longing envy I felt when I looked on Jørn Nielsen‘s charts the first time I met him in Hawaii… the man had just done a session capture and his large chart was entirely black ink – ah, but the power of his people and drawing. I came to learn Jørn has drawn all his working life including many years with Walt Disney Company! *sigh* down, my loving / longing heart for that level of drawing skill.)…

But I digress, back to the question of cartooning… my answer is always a resounding ‘nope’. It’s a field that is a specialty all on its own and an area that I continue to try to improve my skills in but would never raise my hand to say I had ‘arrived’.

So, imagine the joy when I got to work alongside Andrew Fyfe recently, one of Australia’s best known and loved cartoonists.

I had been asked to visually record two workshops for a big infrastructure project that is redesigning a metropolitan public transport network. My client advised that the organising team was also engaging a cartoonist, Andrew.

Andrew has had a career spanning two+ decades. I don’t want to show his age (or mine) but I remember him from a very popular Saturday night family show ‘Hey, Hey, It’s Saturday’ with Daryl Somers. With a camera trained over his shoulder, Andrew punched out rapid-fire drawings and caricatures of guests, presenters and his jokes as they came up. I was always fascinated (and a little terrified) at what I imagined was the pressure he was under to perform. He was part of the ‘Hey, Hey’ team for 14 years!

Andrew’s drawing skills are outstanding – he has mastered such a level of practice that he remains in constant demand for live corporate events, as well as gift caricatures and white board animation.

Duelling markers - Michelle Walker & Andrew Fyfe


At this event last month, what interested me greatly at the end of the day was the vastly different outputs. And how those two outputs were complimentary not at all a duplicate of the content, as one might fear.

Andrew made 25+ flipchart drawings – each with their own focus and story. They were like the Polaroids of the day.

I captured the discussions and key points on a 5m+ chart. It was like the panoramic photograph – through time and space – of the day’s conversations.

Together, they provided a rich and engaging picture of the event that has all the positive hallmarks of our crafts – a key point of interest, inspiration and delight for participants during the event; and a tangible memory anchor to take back to the workplace helping the teams to reap the benefits of the day in a more lasting way.

The humor that came through Andrew’s caricatures and cartoons added to the participant experience. Andrew had people constantly laughing with his witty drawing insights of the project and the presenters…

and you know what they say about laughter…

it makes us more relaxed and receptive and adds to morale.

I also believe the visual aspects of both our roles was a catalyst for participants to ‘give themselves permission’ to play and be creative during the sessions.


Play, trust and creativity are three surefire ways to success. – Deena Ebbert, FISH! Philosophy Leader1


So, when you are organising your next event or being engaged to capture a forum, consider the added value that including a cartoonist might have.

And for all the graphic recorders, let’s keep up our drawing skills!


*** Stay tuned, Andrew has agreed to come into the Spotlight – his interview will be available early next year. ***


1 If you have never heard of FISH! Philosophy – go to the FISH! Philosophy webpage and read more. Who knew playing and throwing fish around at a fish market could lead to a worldwide program to help organisations and schools improve energy and morale in their workplaces???!


How to mix colours for a custom palette

How to mix colours for a custom palette

Have you ever wanted just a slightly redder shade of orange? or a greener shade of blue?

Watch my new Coffee Break Tips video and find out how easy it is to mix custom colours for your graphic facilitation and recording work…


If you found this video useful, you might also enjoy:

What’s in a Graphic Recorder’s tool bag

How to Draw a Simple map of Australia + the Globe

How to Draw a Guy with a Flip-top Head


Spotlight with the inspiring Lynn Carruthers

Spotlight with the inspiring Lynn Carruthers




with Lynn Carruthers

Hear about Lynn’s work with the Smithsonian – that gem of the global community – and the Hawaiian Community Foundation and learn her big and practical lessons for doing the Graphic Recording role in service of others.

To check our Lynn’s website – click here and to have a look at Lynn’s graphic work like this one below – click here.


In Lynn’s interview, she mentioned several people who inspired her with their work.

Here’s the people and links to their websites and also a link to the IFVP 2015 Conference in Austin TX.

David Sibbet MichelleBoosStone rocketpics IVFP

David Sibbet

The Grove Consultants International

Michelle Boos-Stone

Five Elements Consulting Group

runs the Graphic Recording Business Bootcamp

Manuela Bernard’s

Rocketpics app

Saddle up! AustinTX 2015 Conference

Bring your Boots!  Bring your Markers!

Hope you enjoyed this Spotlight Session.

If you enjoyed hearing about Lynn’s graphic recording work, here are some other articles that may interest you…

What’s in a Graphic Recorder’s Tool Bag?

When nostalgia looks soooo goood

How to draw – a simple map of Australia + globe



Spotlight with the wonderful Lynne Cazaly

Spotlight with the wonderful Lynne Cazaly

spotlight_iconLynne Headshot







with Lynne Cazaly


To visit Lynne Cazaly at her website and find out more about the work she is doing and see all the goodies she has to offer, click here.

Visual Mojo cover Create Change Book Cover v 2


If you enjoyed this interview, here are a couple of articles you might also enjoy…

4 Killer Titles for your Visual Resources Library  (this includes my review of Lynne’s ‘Visual Mojo’ book)

Visual note-taking with Inkflow

Tips on drawing ‘…but I can’t draw!’


6 Massive Myths about Creativity you need to jettison from your belief system, now

6 Massive Myths about Creativity you need to jettison from your belief system, now

*****Ready to skip the small talk?

Yep, me too!

After several years of running visual thinking courses, I’m really certain that the folk I’ve met through these training sessions could now be taken as a ‘sample’. I’m no genius, but I’ve noticed a TREND!

There is a dead-set, fixed belief amongst really competent, inspiring professional types that they aren’t creative.

They often even apologise in advance for ‘not being able draw’ or ‘not having a creative bone’ as they meet me. I thought I understood – they set the expectations low and see what emerges.

But, NO! I have to admit now, people really walk around thinking they haven’t any creative talent.

So, if this is you, please, PLEASE, read on…

Here’s six massive myths about creativity you need to jettison from your belief system, now. The world needs you at your most creative, awesome, inspired and capable!

rocket + anvilsWhy?

Because they just aren’t true…

Not convinced? Ok, see which of these beliefs you would raise your hand to…

1. Being creative means being like Monet or Picasso or one of those other famous artists and I’m not that –

So, do you think, like so many of us, that creativity applies only to artists? That is, people who paint or draw or play a musical instrument? It doesn’t apply to ‘regular’ people like you?

Reality is, we have far too narrow a definition of WHO is creative and what IS creativity. The terms are often used interchangeably with artist and artwork.

But is that useful? Err, no, not in my experience.

Because creative ability is in ALL of us. Yes, let me say that again – You ARE creative.

You are equipped with an amazing series of neural centres – that organise all our thoughts, decisions and plans, see patterns, make connections and imagine new possibilities.

Creative thinking is about allowing ourselves to generate ideas – sometimes wildly obtuse and divergent from the original point – make associations and blend information from different sources and contexts.

Human beings are unique in lots of ways, and human beings are especially smart in lots of ways. We are capable of acquiring and retaining immense amounts of information over the life-time of an individual; we are capable of learning and fine-tuning a great many skills and new activities; and we are capable of using and interpreting speech. But one of the most striking species-specific features of Homo sapiens sapiens, surely, is the degree of creativity and innovation which we display in our thought and behavior, both within the lives of individuals and across different human cultures. This manifests itself in story-telling, in art, in the construction of bodily ornaments and decorations, in humor, in religion-building, in theory-construction, in problem-solving, in technological innovation, and in myriad other ways. – Peter Carruthers, The evolution of creativity, 2002

2. Creative people are born that way and I wasn’t –

Many of us think that creativity is part of our family DNA lottery.

You believe you don’t have the creative gene, and so that’s not going to change.

Well, GREAT NEWS, creativity can be learned like other skills.

There are robust techniques that have been shown to improve our creative thinking abilities.

‘Openness to experience’* has been found to be a precursor to creative thinking and is a skill that can be improved if you set an intention to do so.

Habits such as learning a new language, trying different foods, reading a different genre of novel, meeting people, travelling and experiencing new landscapes and cultures can contribute to this ‘openness to experience’ and profoundly affect your neurology.

The key is to shake up your routine, expose yourself to different and new experiences and unfamiliar ways of thinking.

[*This skill is one of the widely recognized “Big Five Personality Traits,” a concept theorized by Paul T. Costa, Jr., and Robert R McCrae in The Revised NEO Personality Inventory.]

3. Creative brilliance happens in a ‘blinding flash of inspiration genius-ness’ and is instantly recognisable –

Do you believe that there is no rhyme or reason to the arrival of a creative breakthrough?

That the process is unpredictable and mysterious?

And, therefore, impossible to orchestrate and reproduce?

We all think everyone else’s great work was 1) great the moment it emerged, sans edits, AND 2) was instantly recognisable by everyone else that it was, in fact, amazing work.

The fact is creative work is often a long process.

Ideas sit inside people’s heads, sometimes for years, often half formed until something else happens (see Steven Johnson’s Where good ideas come from). Another person inspires, a life event comes to pass, a new perspective is glimpsed and the creative endeavour takes on a renewed path.

I point to the experience of acclaimed author, JK Rowling. She submitted her manuscript for the first Harry Potter novel to 12 publishing houses before one agreed to take it on. At that time she was advised by the editor to ‘get a day job, as there just isn’t any money in children’s books’. In hindsight we see how far this statement was from the mark. So genius isn’t always instantly recognisable.

4. I can’t be creative, I don’t have the right qualification / skills / experience –

Whitney Freya, author, speaker, artist and founder of the Creatively Fit Program opened her art studio and began holding art classes with no formal training in fine arts. She maintains that this has been a huge bonus in that people who came to her classes felt they could have a go. A lack of training was not an obstacle and Whitney was proof for them of that fact. Whitney’s lack of training gave those who came to her classes inspiration.

What if you don’t NEED qualifications? What if they got in the way? What if you gave yourself permission to jump in and try it for yourself without judgement or criticism? See how certain practices or material FEEL when you use them!degree

We are so heavily influenced by the need for qualifications – sanctioned bits of paper – that we are frozen and unable to pick up the tools and use them. Sometimes, I think we believe that without the right qualifications we don’t have the ‘authority’ to have an opinion, let alone express it in public.

Hidden behind the long skirt of the ‘not the right qualifications’, is the fear issue of being seen by others to perform badly. In the learning process, we often don’t hit the mark of the standards we hold for ourselves in our other aspects of our personal or professional lives. But we forget that in those areas where we are already competent, we have been building those skills for years, sometimes a decade or more.

The last thing our fragile egos can bear is looking like a complete ‘numpty’. Oh, eh gads, unforgivable.

If you can recognise where your fear of looking foolish is blocking your creative endeavours, you are half way there! Pay attention to what you are saying to yourself!

5. If I try to be creative, I will quickly run out of ideas –

I personally stand up and wave my arms about for this one.

In 2005, I returned as a ‘mature age’ student to study fine art at university (for the sheer, unadulterated pleasure of it). I secretly feared I would find this was true for me. I might have one good idea, but no possibility of more… Really.

But to my unending surprise and delight, my experience was in fact the COMPLETE OPPOSITE.tmp3C14-large

Being at art college seemed to release a flood of creative ideas. In my second year, I attended an illuminating talk by Tracey Moffat, an acclaimed Australian artist who works in photography and video. She talked about her life and experiences as an artist. She said that she suffered – not from too few – but being ‘plagued’ by TOO MANY ideas. Constantly inundated by creative concepts and project ideas, there were too many to ever work on them all. Her approach was to wait until a creative idea to dogged her for years before she would give it any attention.


Make the creative concept sing for its supper!

6. I’m too old to learn anything new –

One of my favourite artists, Rosalie Gascoigne, a New Zealand-Australian sculptor, who is famed for her assemblages and collages had her first serious exhbition in Paddington, Sydney, in 1974, aged 57. Instant success followed and a mere four years later she had become a major figure in the Australian art world, with a survey at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Many people find they have so much more life experience to draw on and so being ‘too old’ is not relevant.

I would argue it gives you so much more material to work with!

Recent studies in neural plasticity have shown that we do in fact have the capacity to learn all sorts of new skills and abilities into our more ‘mature’ years! Our brains are amazing. We should take them out for an adventure more often!

So, how to expose yourself to new and different experiences?

I have EXCITING news to share about a *side project* I’ve been working on! (have always wanted to have the rockstar claim to a ‘side project’)

The Life is Your Canvas on-line workshop is open for registration. If you haven’t already jumped on and reserved your spot, click here

I am hosting and leading training sessions, along with five fabulous people – Whitney Freya, Cheryl Cruttenden, Tania Bosak, Christian Herron and Tim Hamons – who I GUARANTEE will stimulate different parts of your brain, expose you to new experiences and ways of thinking.

Life Is Your Canvas bannerSo here is that link again.

If you liked this article, these may also be of interest…

6 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Kick-start Your Visual Thinking

5 Critical Beliefs to boost your Creative Thinking

I LOVE Venn diagrams

4 Killer Titles for Your Visual Resources Library




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