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.
Over 50 co-authors from around the globe are contributing to this Field Guide.
It includes sections on visual language and drawing, visual facilitation basics, roles, listening, dialog, 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!
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.
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.
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???!
Time to remember my mum, Bryony and my dad, Neil
who both left this earth in recent seasons to find their next adventure.
As we get ready to leave, I find I love the meeting point of wandering and the ritual of life passages. I have this yearning to step out of my blessed, comfortable day-to-day world and see what else is there… waiting for me… to reach beyond me…
Say yes. Whatever it is, say yes with your whole heart & simple as it sounds, that’s all the excuse life needs to grab you by the hands & start to dance. — Brian Andreas
So, that’s what I’m doing. Today, I close the office and we pack up our truck and head off – north and a long, (4,800+kms long) way west.
My dream is to get a thong tan (no, my dear international, non-Aussie friends… that’s NOT a g-string but flip flops in your lexicon).
To spend the next three months kicking the dirt, eating out of a camping pot, seeing vast red-brown landscapes.
Witness a part of this planet I have never had the chance to sit and observe before. It’s in the far north west of this big country… the Kimberley region.
Just the writing of this gets me excited.
As I pack my pastels and pens… my journal… my camera with its new macro lens… I find this gorgeous quote from Rainer Marie Rilke:
You must give birth
to your images
they are the future within you
wanting to be born.
Fear not the strangeness that you feel
The future has to enter us
long before it happens.
My soul yearns for space. The space of remoteness. To ponder the small things, the new things, the starry nights, the taste of dust and heat.
To have a day that has a new rhythm – its focus on exploring, cooking, sharing stories, pondering maps, fossicking for images, making marks in my journal, having cups of tea from the camp cooker.
While this trip has been 9 years in the planning, now it’s here, there was the sense that it was great timing and bad timing all at the same time!
[I love the duality that resides in me at the moment. It’s a sense of my snake skin coming loose and ready to shed.]
I know that so many new parts of my life and business are at the ‘bursting through the soil / soul’ phase – which is DAMN exciting.
But there is also a strong pull for quiet. To not be on call, pouring my love and energy into the world.
Time to pour that energy into me, my husband, my gentle creative life.
When I told others of this plan to take 4 months away… so many said ‘that’s great, I’m so jealous’, ‘how fantastic you’ve made that happen’…
Unsurprisingly, a few, who don’t know me well or who have fears I don’t, remarked ‘how can you leave your business?’ ‘who will run your business?’ ‘how will you pay your bills?’
Frankly, all good questions. But the big answer was given to me by my friend and mentor, Mary, who said ‘people will want what you have when you reemerge’. I know this trip will be one of a life time and unceremoniously shift me into a new me.
We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we do know is that we don’t get them from our laptops. –John Cleese.
There is lots of details I can share about how to put your business on semi-auto-pilot. But the main thing is to think it can be done.
and if you, YOUR SOUL needs to be out-of-office for a period, you need to honour that!
I have gathered some fun materials so you won’t miss my leaving.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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