One month ago I had the chance to attend for the first time the International Sketchnote Camp (ISC) in Lisbon. Yes, Lisbon! Although filled with tourists, Lisbon was the perfect place for the ISC – and to visit friends and my family. A great win-win situation for a sketchnote-lover-emigrant like me.
But first things first, what are sketchnotes? Sketchnotes are a visual language, which uses text, shapes, and connectors and does not require high drawing skills. They are intended to make content more comprehensible for the person sketchnoting and at the same time to help better remember the transmitted information. They can also be used to get new ideas and facilitate an exchange on the respective topic. You can use sketchnotes to plan projects, or capture ideas from books you read, movies you saw, etc. Sketchnotes are this and so much more! And that I learned at the ISC! This is my impression from the first day:
Walking into a room filled with people you don’t know is both terrifying and exciting. I sat next to a woman and started talking. She introduced herself as Caroline Vetsmany. “What a different surname”, I said. “Yes, I got it from my husband whose grandfather invented it! And previously my maiden name sounded like the word ‘traffic cone’ in French.” I liked her. Originally from France and from the marketing area, she is now living in Portugal and doing business illustration and graphic recording. You can see some of her work (and hire her) here. She is really talented and her experience in digital marketing background is a good combo to look for.
But now wait. I introduced another concept: graphic recording. Well, although many think it is the same as sketchnoting it is not. This was emphasized by Mathias Weitbrech, the founder of Visual Facilitators, the largest team of graphic recorders in Germany.
Graphic recording originated as a method much earlier than sketchnotes, approximately 40 years ago. The primary focus of graphic recording is to support meetings and other gatherings and encourage collaboration between people in a group by capturing the ideas and content visually as people speak. By doing so, everyone in the room can see and be part of this live visualization of ideas. Interested? To learn more go to Visual Facilitators and request some info. Here are my takes on Mathias Weitbrecht’s talk on ISC and some of the myths about graphic recording he pointed out: Back to first impressions – I never attended something organized as a BarCamp. I did not know what it was. It turns out that unlike traditional conference formats in which there is an organized agenda, BarCamps have a self-organizing character in which the content is provided by the participants and the sessions are scheduled by whoever in the audience wants to hold a session. People get up, pitch their sessions and schedule the session on a whiteboard.
I was happy to see that two of the many sessions I wanted to attend (too many actually) were going to be presented by two women from Bremen, where I currently live (what are the odds?). One of the sessions was presented by Diana Meier-Soriat. Diana has 4 kids and a dog and she manages to do a lot of creative work: sketchnotes, graphic recording, illustrations, workshops and she organizes her crazy schedule with a bullet journal. She has even written a book about bullet journaling in German. Having a bullet journal is super trendy at the moment and I really want to try it. You can track your past, order your present, and design your future – all in one – tracker, to-do-list, diary, agenda, sketchbook. Just have a look and see for yourself what bullet journal is with this awesome video that Diana did with Faber-Castell:
And here is what I got from her session about Bullet Journaling. I am looking forward to sketching what I learned and I hope I can share with you soon some of my own Bullet Journaling (or #BuJo). I really need to organize myself!
The other session was done by Prof. Katharina-Theis-Bröhl, who is a Physics teacher at the Hochschule Bremerhaven. She uses sketchnotes in her lectures for Master students as well as in meetings and seminars of research colleagues. She even did a small booklet to help students learn more about the subject of solar energy, which she showed us – it is totally awesome, I wished I had a teacher like her in college – I would probably have retained much more in my brain. See what I learned from her session:
The ISC was also very interesting to learn more about how to draw figures. Anne Gibbons delivered a very Expressive Figure Drawing session with live examples and funny motions. There I learned that the spine is very important because it sets the direction. She is a very talented cartoonist and illustrator, who also does graphic recording. In conversation, we discovered that we both share the fear of surfing. Which I should not have in my veins since I come from Peniche, where the MEO Rip Curl Pro Surf Competition is held every year.
Although the ISC was done in a BarCamp format, it did have a keynote speaker – Mike Rohde. Mike is actually the “father” of sketchnotes – the one who coined the sketchnotes, sketchnotes. Mike Rhode wrote several books translated into several languages, among them “The Sketchnote Handbook” and the “Sketchnote Workbook” which I have been using to learn more about sketchnotes. It was an honor to meet him, not only for what he does but also because he is a very friendly and humble person.
He opened the ISC with several examples of why sketchnoting can be really helpful- for instance, he spoke about a kid who had difficulty learning in a “normal school way” and after discovering sketchnoting he was able to get to college. Mike Rohde says: “We are the torchbearers” and that we should keep spreading the word about sketchnotes to everyone. To join the revolution you can register at Sketchnote Army.
On the last day of ISC, there was still a lot of sessions that I wanted to see, but I could not stay longer. Still, I managed to come to the session of Rob Dimeo, who I have been following on Flickr for a long time. Rob Dimeo is the Director of the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR), a user facility for neutron scattering in the US. He was one of the first persons I have seen to combine science and sketchnoting. And since I have always been a huge fan of science and visual communication it caught my eye. Since learning sketchnotes in 2014, he has been using sketchnotes in seminars, management meetings, etc. and he even has published some sketchnotes in technical journals. And he is trying to increase the number of sketchnoters in his scientific community. Thank you for being an inspiration!
Thank you so much to the organizers of this amazing event: Luís Gonzaga – a Spiritual Intelligence Coach & Productivity Consultant at Full Fill and Daniel Perdigão, the best sketchnoter and graphic recorder in Portugal. Please check his work and his company Up Side Up. It is worth it!
It was lovely to meet people from all over the world and of course to talk in my native language to some very nice Portuguese people there. Thank you all! It was an amazing opportunity and I hope to be able to attend next year’s ISC in France! #ISC19FR