IFVP 2015 – Reflections on Our Craft

Posted by | Aug 2, 2015

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In July 2015, 135 visual practitioners gathered in Austin, Texas to connect and learn more about our craft. Our industry association, IFVP (International Forum of Visual Practitioners), is celebrating its 20th year and has grown to over 500 members. It’s been a winding journey for our field, and for myself personally.

Fifteen years ago, my colleague,  mentor, and friend, Lynn Carruthers had taken a course at the Grove Consultants International, and started graphic recording at our company. I envied the markers, the paper, and her role in the room. I was drawn to the creativity, and the way words on big paper helped people collectively think and work together in new and different ways.

I remember sneaking into my first conference in 2003. Lynn brought me along to that conference in Pahara Dunes that first year. Our tiny group of 20 graphic recorders paid in cash for our lunches, sat in drum circles led by David Sibbet, and discussed the challenges of the field. I met a group of people doing great work, loving their jobs, enhancing every experience they were a part of, but struggling to articulate the value of the work. Graphic recording often was (and still is) described as “magic.” The magic of hearing the words and then channeling the images through our hands. For a highly analytical Asian American woman, this was not enough for me to quit my stable job and jump head first into the visual deep end of the pool. I continued to attend conferences and incorporated graphic recording into every project I managed. Since then, I’ve been on a mission to break down the mystique around the experience of listening, thinking, synthesizing, drawing, and understanding.

Recording_DSibbetTwelve years later, we still struggle with the magic. We listen deeply on multiple levels, tuning in to all the verbal and nonverbal cues in the room. We remain present in a day and age where our attention is split by hundreds of distractions. We think in pictures. We communicate with images which fires hundreds of synapses and connections in our brain instantaneously. We reflect back thinking so that the group can move together through a process. If this is magic, I’ll take it. But we need to explain it in a way that our clients can understand.

Join me on the journey of exploration on how we first must learn to think visually in order to express visually. And how visuals are powerful shapers of our dialogues and our collective experiences.

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