Monthly Archives: June 2012 – Graphic Recording

NOTE: I don’t know what happened to this video…it appears to have been removed, but you can still find Reilly Dow’s Pinkfish at with a nice portfolio for reference… – Graphic Recording

I think this is the first graphic recording site that really hooked me!

A colleague sent it to me, and unlike the RSA animations that I found inspiring but intimidating, Reilly Dow’s site showed me that real people do this in real time…and it looked like such fun! is a great resource for graphic recorders. Reilly posts samples of work, and there is a great video that will give you a nice idea of how this works in reality. Her work is simple, clear, and effective. It is also beautiful in its simplicity. I particularly like the Ryerson TEDx posters.

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Jason Pearlman on Perfectionism

I always talk about perfectionism with regard to my music…There’s a certain irony that sometimes comes with getting good at something – particularly art. Once people recognize you as an Artist, there can be pressure. Pressure to be better, pressure to be prolific. And sometimes that means debilitating pressure.

When I found graphic recording, it was such a relief to be in the exploration phase of a craft. No pressure from expectations because I’m just learning! It’s a beautiful thing. I’m still in that phase, but feel that there might be some kind of self-imposed expiration looming in the near future. Oh, perfectionism. Why do you stifle me so?

Read Pearlman’s thoughts on the issue. I think he captures it well. (Nice coffee cup!)

Jason Pearlman

I am a perfectionist. Not an amateur perfectionist whom merely dots every “i” and crosses every “t”; I’m a pro whom makes sure that the dot above the “i” is perfectly round and the cross through the “t” extends out evenly on both sides. And to be sure, I zoom into the letters at 6400% in Illustrator just to check. It’s always served me well as a production artist, where exactitude and methodical perfectionism are mandatory for creative deliverables. It has, however, hampered me as an artist and illustrator.

I’ve always been a left-brained artist, not so much “creative” as technical. I don’t look to blow people away with out-of-the-box thinking; I just look to tantalize eyes with aesthetically-resonate artwork. Of course, artists are more animal than calculator, and in the past, I’ve had to fight against this perfectionism. In art school, I quickly became proficient in realistic oil painting…

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Graphic Change

Graphic Change

I came across this website for Graphic Change – a graphic recording/facilitation service doing beautiful and amazing work in the UK and Europe. They have been featured in a great article on graphic recording in Inside Out magazine, which is on their website, too. I’m inspired!! Maybe one day I’ll have my very own website like this!

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Read my article in Private Sector Qatar!

Read my article in Private Sector Qatar!

I’m excited to be featured in this month’s issue of Private Sector Qatar. My article is called “Picture This!” and can be found on page 36-37. Check it out! I’d love to hear your feedback.

Here is a description of the magazine:

Private Sector is a monthly magazine, in Arabic and English, supported and presented by QDB, and published by CPI.
It is aimed at business owners and senior executives in the private sector in Qatar. Armed with practical advice, it highlights key issues for the business community.

The English edition of the magazine aims to provide guidance and information to expat business owners and large foreign enterprises looking to setup business in Qatar. Armed with information on how to find local partners, employment regulations and more, Private Sector is the go-to guide for businesses in Qatar.

The magazine addresses real issues faced by business decision makers and entrepreneurs, without resorting to jargon. We understand that often, in the private sector, specialist business decisions are made by the owners. At the same time, the content is equally relevant and useful for specialist, senior executives in mid-level enterprises. The magazine style is conversational and vibrant – suited to the business community in this sector.

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Creative Journalling Workshop #2

In our second iteration of the Creative Journalling Workshop with graphic recording, Paula and I decided that it might be worthwhile to focus more attention on the process of writing and the purpose of using a visual element in creative writing. We thought this might help with better defining my role (i.e., staying true to the purpose of graphically recording for the sake of producing a record of the event for future reference/inspiration) for the participants. Interestingly, this second group seemed to better connect with our original vision of supplementing and facilitating inspiration visually, as well as reaching individuals through various approaches (as opposed to verbal or purely text-based prompts).

It is also interesting to me that during the session, I really enjoyed creating the poster, and I felt very relaxed with this group. The participants were complimentary and the group had a positive and vibrant energy. However, looking at my poster today with fresh eyes, I see that it is one of my worst works yet! So much blank space…Not sure exactly what I was saving all that space for! Also, a lot of the text is really small and it looks quite sloppy to me. I still like elements of it…particularly the herbs and spices from the “If I were a herb or spice, I would be…” activity. This prompt was really cool, and I loved the responses. You can see that contrary to the first workshop, I decided not to include the names. This saved me time for drawing and colouring, and it is also in keeping with my realization that general is better than too specific in this case.

One of the highlights of this session for me was the “I didn’t know I loved…” prompt. I actually got out my pad of paper for this one, as I was really inspired to jot down a few ideas of my own. I just couldn’t resist. The primary purpose of these workshops is to help participants record “starts” or initial ideas that might lead to further development or inspiration at a later time. In the spirit of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, the workshop simply gets people to put pen to paper and write. In the group setting with that gentle “push” to actually write without sensoring or judging, I had the sense that the participants appreciated the opportunity to have this time devoted only to writing. I told Paula that I might like to sign up as a participant the next time around!

Creative Journalling Workshop #1

So Paula and I decided to dive right in and try an experiment in combining her creative journalling workshop wtih elements of graphic recording. We invited members of the community who had attended Paula’s workshops previously, as well as new participants, and the response was overwhelming (well, for me anyway…Paula is probably used to receiving such a positive response to her popular workshops).

Our idea was that she would facilitate the workshop as usual – helping participants to get words on paper through a series of writing prompts, timed activities, and optional sharing of one’s work. In the meantime, I would record the highlights as I normally do during facilitated sessions. The plan was to see how graphic recording might inspire these writers visually as they worked with text, ideas, and some of their own visual prompts. In addition, we thought that having a visual record of the evening might also be a nice way to honour the participants and some of the ideas they shared at the session.

I enjoyed the evening immensely. It was interesting to record this unique experience, and as an instructor of English language learners, it was a treat to listen to English speakers articulating their creative thoughts and stories so eloquently and thoughtfully. It reminded me that having an ‘artistic community’ is something I am missing here.

Despite enjoying the experience, however, Paula and I weren’t so sure that the merging of creative journalling and graphic recording actually “worked” in the sense that we had imagined it might. For example, I wondered if the graphic recording ended up as a kind of superfluous distraction that didn’t really add anything to the workshop at all. As the writers were all quite independent and skilled at their craft, they didn’t really seem to need more than the prompts from Paula, so our idea that the poster might inspire the participants didn’t seem to come to fruition with this group.

In addition, the recording itself proved somewhat difficult, as I realized quickly after beginning with the “If I were a colour…” introductions that getting details from the writers might not be the best approach. I started to think that perhaps a more general “feel” for the session might be best, particularly with the possible goal of using the poster as future inspiration. I thought that getting too detailed might be stifling, whereas more general depictions might encourage more freedom in future brainstorming sessions.

Overall, it was a terrific experience in a number of ways – to see how the workshop runs (and get some ideas for my own creative writing!), to try something new and to work a little outside-the-box with graphic recording, and to share this experience with a group of interesting and creative people. It was a pleasure to be a part of this experiment and to brainstorm ways that we might improve it in our next session.

Note: the picture I have attached here is not quite finished, as I am trying to work with individual “quilt blocks” created by the participants in one of the writing activities. My plan is to work them into the empty squares if possible. I will post an update when this happens! As you can see, the poster displays some of the highlights of the actual writing prompts (i.e., Remembering a photograph, This is the hand that…, etc.). It also contains short excerpts from the found poetry activity that captured my imagination (“dead at foot of castle wall…”, “life is fine, fine as wine…”, etc.). It will be interesting to see how the next session emerges with an entirely different group!

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