I’m pleased to announce that I have a chapter in a forthcoming book on visual practice!
The book is The Visual Facilitation Field Guide, and my chapter is called The Growing Edge for Visual Practitioners.
Watch my quick video below to hear all about it!
Why this new book?
The Field Guide is intended for visual practitioners to use as a sourcebook of ideas and inspiration, but it’s also intended for non-practitioners to get a sense of the depth and breadth of the field and understand why and how to partner with a visual practitioner. Over 50 co-authors, all visual practitioners or facilitators who partner with them, are contributing chapters about their own experiences and methods.
It includes sections on visual language and drawing, visual facilitation basics, roles, listening, dialogue, templates, meetings–including large-scale meetings–both face-to-face and virtual, team performance, storytelling, working off the paper and beyond the meeting, and intersections with other fields. There’s also a section of stories using visuals in action and a section about the future of the field.
My chapter is about the future of the field and how we as practitioners can build and grow our visual thinking practices in several key ways. It addresses the stumbling blocks many new and new-to-the-field graphic facilitators have in talking about the work we do and the value that we bring. This content comes from my experience of coaching visual practitioners around the globe in how to build a flourishing visual business.
Help us by pre-ordering your own copy – at a *discount*
The book is being self-published and will be available mid-year (2018). To cover the costs, we’re launching a Kickstarter campaign!
The campaign opens on April 24, 12.00 PM CET, when you’ll be able to pre-order the book at a deep early bird discount. Or you can pledge a higher amount for other rewards, like a one-on-one coaching session with David Sibbet (The Grove) or Brandy Agerbeck!
Spotlight on the gifted + bubbly Heather Leavitt Martinez
with Heather Leavitt Martinez
Hear about Heather’s background as a printmaker and fine artist, how that lead to a desire to develop a ‘visual vocabulary’ that served others in their work and the power that comes from co-creating visuals with the group she works with.
Heather has great insights into how to stand out and brand yourself as a visual practitioner, how a key question at a meetup group spurred her pursuit of mastery in lettering and the key things to focus on to deliver great results for your clients.
Hear about Sam’s background in education and working in not-for-profit organisations, how drawing was originally a ‘side project’ until he found himself working ‘unexpectedly’ as a graphic facilitator (recorder). Sam has great insights into how to stay centered and present in our role when we are supporting groups doing difficult work.
To check out Sam’s website – click here and to have a look at Sam’s graphic work like the ones below – click here.
In Sam’s interview, he mentioned several people who have inspired him with their work and resources that he has found useful. Here’s the people and links to their websites and also a link to the IFVP 2016 Conference in Washington DC, USA.
6 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Kick Start Your Visual Thinking (or how to talk to strangers on a plane)
On a flight last week, I was doing a graphic note for a presentation I am giving soon. The person sitting next to me took a side-ways glance (ok, a couple), over my shoulder at what I was doing.
After a minute or so, he asked – Excuse me, how are you drawing on that?
Well, a conversation followed that went something like…
[me] I use drawing apps – this one is “Brushes 3”- so I can create pictures and images that support the messages in this case, for a talk I’ve got on next month.
[my neighbour] So what do you do for a living?
[me] I run a consultancy called Curious Minds Co. and I teach professional people how to reconnect with their creative talents and draw out their ideas… (ok, it was my 30 second biz spiel, but I was testing his level of interest before putting my nose back into my screen).
[him] I bet you’d have no luck with ME!
I think that was supposed to be a big full-stop. BAM! No argument could follow that!
[me] ….Really? How much?
A startled pause.
He knew that even though I was smiling, I was serious. I don’t think my flying buddy in 11b had considered anyone would be up for that challenge. He obviously thought it was flat-out un-doable.
I gotta tell ya, I LOVE that response to the work I do (which is kinda lucky cos I get it A LOT in my business. See my ambit claim for a vintage Carmen Ghia -did I mention I’d like it in eggshell blue- in exchange for exclamations of disbelief in “…But I Can’t Draw“).
So here’s what I said in reply to his surprised expression…
[me] I’ll teach you how to take visual notes at your next meeting in 5 minutes but you have to promise me something. Deal?
Wary nod of the head. (Funny – I don’t think he asked what the promise was).
[me] Next time you are in a business meeting, take your note book, and turn it sideways (#1). Here’s my hot tip: get one with blank pages from the stationery shop next time. But if you have one with lines, that’s ok. Just ignore them.
Write a couple of keys words in the middle of the page that summarises the topic up for discussion or the name of the meeting (#2). Then put a big ol’ circle ’round it.
As you hear important things being said, write these in the space around this central heading (#3). Give each one its own bit of the paper. If you have an important point, make it stand out by WRITING IT IN CAPITALS… the more detailed points can be in a smaller font. Put a circle or cloud bubble around each separate point to frame it and link it via a line to the central one and any other sub-points it relates to.
Try adding some simple drawings (#4) – they are all just made up of a couple of basics shapes – which if you can hold a pen and write your name, you can do! For example, if you want to draw a face, start with a circle for the head, then add two dots for eyes and two lines – one for the nose and one for the mouth.
Have a look over the notes when you’re finished and add any words that you may have missed on the run that helps you remember the detail of what was said (#5). When that’s done, put a line border around the page (#6).
Taaadaaa! You’ve done your first visual notes! You are no longer a visual note-taking virgin!
– At this point, I still had my neighbour’s full attention –
Do you want a quick lesson in drawing for understanding and recall?
[glutton for more] Yeah, that would be great!
[me] Ok, all you need to know is everything you want to draw is made up of a few basic shapes. The five I use are: line, circle, square, triangle and blob. How easy is that!
Nods in response.
[one who loves an audience for drawing lessons] To draw a standard face, just do what I did before – draw a rough circle, add two smaller circles for eyes, a straight line for the nose and a curved one for the mouth. By playing with those basic elements you can draw any number of faces… If I want to make the face look more female, I draw a smaller nose and give the eyes some lashes and curvier lips… I draw a man’s nose larger. If you want to draw a child, make the forehead larger, so draw the eyes, nose and mouth at the bottom of the head…
Now to draw a figure… Here’s a really simple one – draw small circle for the head, a larger oval for the body and then some lines for arms and legs. You can add circles for hands and feet. Give your person some character – hair, tie, briefcase, clipboard – whatever you like.
Adding drawings to your repertoire is a process. My advice is always start with a couple of basic things – let’s say you pick three. Don’t try to get too fancy right at the beginning. Focus on those so that you can do them without thinking. Then add a couple more and repeat.
My new-found friend commented that I made it look easy. I acknowledged that I’d been doing it for a wee while but that making it look easy comes with practice. I also warned that people in my courses make huge improvements in just a couple of short hours. It’s very do-able!
I find that many people get stopped from drawing because
we don’t want to look like a ‘numpty’ (aka novice).
We are all serious professional people, I get that.
It can be very hard to look at your own work and not judge it harshly. But I let my friend in on a little secret – other people think what you’ve done is fantastic and so cool (even when you’ve rated it at a C- in your own head).
Why? Because it’s different, interesting and novel.
And there are other BIG BONUSES.
Taking notes this way helps you concentrate on what’s being said
it helps you retain the information.
Up to six times more info retained a couple days later compared to writing text info alone!
If, like my flying buddy in 11b, you would like an easy way to get started, join the Curious Minds community by clicking on the red banner at the top of the page and you’ll also get a copy of my ebook, “Building Your Visual Language Library: 12 Great Icons” as a gift.
If you are interested in delving deeper, you can jump in on my public training courses where I show you how the pros do it!
Click here to find out more info on what’s happening and when. The “Essential of Visual Thinking & Graphics Practice” course is my premium program and a great introduction to the skills and techniques for you to apply immediately.
So… DON’T LET YOUR BELIEF YOU CAN’T DRAW STOP YOU!
It’s been a while… Life has been tumultuous these past few months.
As a result, I have not had the ‘bandwidth’ to post any stories. Though there’s been plenty of good stuff in amongst all the other to share.
Expect to see a few new stories leaping off the production line over the next couple of weeks, as I find my energy returning for all things visual and graphic and my fingers get a tapping on the keyboard.
As promised back in February when I posted ‘I LOVE Venn diagrams‘ I have drawn a few more to add to the ‘work in progress’ gallery.
WARNING: Some of these deal with the grittier side of life.
Would love to hear your thoughts on these ideas. Send me a note!
Need help to get your CREATIVE switched on?
I can help YOU expand your professional backpack with the POWER of VISUAL THINKING so you can make your ideas and solutions clear and communicate these with greater impact and ease. I design and deliver premium training and coaching programs when you’re seeking a guide TO EXPLORE and DEVELOP your creativity.
I read a post this week by Agnese Aljena on the 7 common things for drawing and business where Agnese makes the point that drawing and business are both learned sets of skills, both need love, dedication and passion. That resonated strongly with me. Especially as my business is about creative thinking and a (cool) foundational element of that is drawing out ideas, sketching down concepts and working them through with my clients using both word and image.
So back to the need to LEARN.
How did I learn these skills? For my ‘drawing’ in the context of business, communicating ideas and providing clarity for myself and others – I went to a number of very talented people in this field… Christina Merkley, Peter Durand and Diane Durand, Sunni Brown and Dan Roam. For my business skills, I had the joy of working with and learning from colleagues Mary Maher and Trevor Lloyd. My partner, Ian also brings lots of business smarts to our conversations, so I bounce ideas around when I need input.
These are the generous folk that got me started.
Ultimately, though, LEARNING occurs for me from the DOING.
Experience births new ideas and understanding.
That brings me to another topic that interests me greatly – evaluating the success of an endeavour. At its core, evaluation is purposeful enquiry – to learn, improve and get better in how we bring our ideas into the world. In so many areas, our communities need new and better ideas right now (that whole discussion is probably for another time/post).
So, how do we ‘measure the success’ of a project, a business initiative, or – dear to my heart – a workshop? How do we know if we are ‘hitting the mark’? This is a focus for me as I prepare for a workshop I am running in New York, USA on this topic later this month.
So to prepare, I have set myself a task of writing a series on this topic – how to’s, tips and techniques for Measuring Your Success. STAY TUNED!
Need help to get your CREATIVE switched on?
Curious Minds Co. is a small consultancy firm helping people and organisations get their CREATIVE on and achieve their goals. You can contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org. – See more at: www.curiousmindsco.com.au/courses
I have long been a huge fan of venn diagrams. I don’t know what it is about a couple of circles scratched out on a pad that has the potential to say it all. Maybe it comes from the reflection that my life is a series of experiences where I move towards the overlap of things I enjoyed…
Art–science, the environment–working with groups, people–creative activities…
About a year ago, in my journey into all things graphic, I found ‘Indexed’ by Jessica Hagy – http://thisisindexed.com/ – she has a great wit and decisive way of capturing ideas in a simple diagram.
Inspired by Jessica, I started cataloguing my own thoughts.
The Result – a ‘things I love’ series and a ‘things I’ve learnt’ series. Both are a ‘work in progress’. I will continue to add to as ideas arrive.
Ever been a little bored and tried doodling with both hands? How about experiementing with your ‘other’ hand to write your name? When I’ve done this in the past, I find it feels pretty weird but also interesting – both the sensation and the result. Yesterday, Dave Lovegrove* – an artist and art teacher – and I decided to do a tandem two-handed drawing exercise.
Here’s what we did:
Duration: we allowed one to two hours
Material:large scale chart paper taped to a clean wall surface and a range of drawing implements (we ended up using marker pens, ink & calligraphy brushes)
we positioned ourselves in front of the wall, standing in a relaxed posture and allowed the sounds of my farm to penetrate our ears and be a sound track to our drawing
holding a pen in each hand, we drew using both hands at once
we drew without judging what we were producing (I found closing my eyes and focusing on my body’s movement helped here)
we also tried to avoid actively drawing any particular object or subject
we allowed each hand to act in symmetry of the other, sometimes one taking the lead then the other
as we drew, we allowed ourselves to take up the whole area of white paper.
After we laid down the first layer of colours, we paused, reflected on what was emerging then took up two different colours adding to the first layer of marks and patterns we had produced.
After about 30 mins, we each selected a black marker and started to emphasise certain marks or patterns that appealed. Then using black ink and calligraphy brushes we added another layer of marks to the drawing.
The result: A large-scale image that has two distinct sides – reflecting the two artists and our different physical approaches. Dave’s side is angular and edgey and mine is rounded and swirly. The layering of colours and use of different drawing implements makes an interesting final image – there is a lot going on and the more you look the more you see / discern from the marks and patterns within the layers.
As a process, the tandem approach was great. At times, we talked as we drew, putting into words what we were experiencing. I thoroughly enjoyed the first part where we were breaking ‘new ground’ on a clean white expanse. I also enjoyed the use of ink and brushes – the marks were very definite and that was extremely satisfying. I am aware that this style of making marks and working with the patterns that emerge is a preferred way of working for me. I felt a kind of freedom from the burden of reproducing something – a representation of an object or likeness of a person.
Drawing is part of my work as a graphic facilitator and recorder. As a result, I find the two-handed drawing very freeing as an exercise in drawing movement. I get a physical ‘release’ similar to experiences I have had in yoga and other physical exercise that is akin to an endorphin rush.
Our exploration in two-handed drawing is part of my 2013 approach to expanding my drawing skills and repertoire.
Stay tuned for the 10 pens for 10 fingers drawing adventure with Dave – currently a work on the ‘drawing’ board!
Have you tried two-handed drawing? What has been your experience?
In the time I’ve been doing graphics work, I’ve often thought I’d love a Carmen Ghia for every time some-one has come up to me with words of admiration and concluded that they couldn’t possibly do anything like it. …but I can’t do what you do, I can’t draw!
Well, I have to agree with Ed Emberley* the artist and illustrator who believes anyone can be an artist. If you can wield a pen, you can add images that create impact. (*Ed is famous for his learn to draw books. If you’ve not yet had the joy of dipping into his world I highly recommend it.)
So, to these doubting admirers, I ask: ‘Were you born driving a car?’
Ok, so you want some ideas to help along your drawing skills? Here are five tips to get you going…
1. Be prepared to learn. The first tip is an obvious one – you have to want to give it a go AND be ok with it looking a bit ‘not good enough’ at the beginning. Keep reminding yourself that hill starts seemed impossible at the beginning too!
2. Get yourself a Yoda. Go to the local library and borrow a ‘how to’ book or watch some of the great YouTube material available. See how others do it.
3. Set yourself some goals. They say creativity without some constraints dissipates. Pick a theme, such as faces and work on it, til you can reproduce them without thinking. (They call this unconsciously competent.) Then select your next theme you want to tackle.
4. Indulge your artist. Your creative brain loves colours, pens, textured paper. Find some lovely materials that delight your creativity.
5. Practice, practice, practice.
Remember, you weren’t born driving a car! And enjoy!