Graphic recorders (also called a graphic facilitator, visual scribe, or live illustrator) can add visual excitement to a conference. An illustrator’s roll can add a holistic view to a keynote speech, to a set of workshops, and to your event as a whole.
A single graphic recorder can often not handle an entire conference for pure logistic and time constraints. With only one, a conference organizer must choose between keynote speeches, workshops, event floor activities and attendee quotes and feedback. All of these things can vie for a graphic recorders attention – all different ways to draw the story of a conference.
Hiring more than one graphic recorder can allow for a greater coverage of your conference events. But not without an additional layer of logistics.
Graphic recorders work freelance so they may not have experience working with others. Competing artistic styles, tools and backgrounds can cause variations in a final product . The best way to make sure graphic recorders work well with each other is with planning. High levels of communication sharing of graphic Styles decisions on tool sets and and decisions on work components are all essential in planning a great multi graphic recorder event. Online meetings, Trello Boards or even Slack Channels can be advantageous (I’ve used them all!)
Diversity, however, allows for strength. Read on.
A Recent Conference Working as a Graphic Recorder
I had the opportunity to work for ISTE at their No Fear Coding Lab held in Detroit, Michigan at the beginning of this month. With K-12 teachers in attendance, the goal of the conference was to remove barriers that stop computer science from getting to students. Penny Krebiehl and Sarah Wood were also hired to work with me- all of us sharing in the work.
While all graphic facilitators, our variety of our backgrounds lent well to this conference.
- Myself (Matt Orley) – Engineer, here in Northeast Ohio
- Penny Krebiehl – Fine Art and Systems – Northwest Michigan
- Sarah Wood – An Educator – Western Michigan
Not only would our images be well understood and thoughtful, they would be beautiful and from a variety of different view points.
Keynote Recordings – Dueling Markers or a Harmonious Performance?
When you have multiple live illustrators, you have the choice of creating multiple images, or, have them work together.
With my recent experience a success, I suggest working together! A co-created image can be much deeper and more beautiful than one done solo. Multiple recorders can apply a variety of talents in typography, shading, images, caricatures and coloring to create an image at 2x or 3x the speed. Additionally, a team of graphic facilitators can optionally break one person out to act as the listener to create concept sketches.
Tandem artwork will not only impress your speakers but also provide a photo worthy component for your conference attendees.
Scheduling Graphic Recording at Workshops: All, One, or None?
Graphic Recorders need NOT be relegated to just Keynote and Plenary Sessions!
If you have the man power, your conference can benefit from visual scribing of workshops too.
Option 1: Recording a Workshop Live
For top workshops, there’s nothing better than having a live illustrator create a big image live while present in the workshop. This works best if you have the man power to tackle the project.
— Kim Lane Clark, Ed.S (@askatechnogirl) October 8, 2018
Option 2: Recording a Workshop from Graphic Recorder Notes
A graphic facilitator does not need to experience the entirety of a workshop to be able to pull useful information for a graphic recording. With this option utilized at the recent ISTE conference referenced above, graphic recorders spent less than full time in multiple concurrent workshops and took notes. These notes were combined at the conclusion of workshops into full sized overview graphics.
Option 3: Recording a Workshop from non-live notes
While not truly graphic recording, your hired artistic talent can work from speaker notes, notes taken by dedicated conference staff, or can even pull highlights from a power point presentation. While this option might keep your graphic recorder working late into the night, it is an option to multiply their output.
Graphic Recording and Workshop Timing
Graphic recorders often will gather all notes for multiple workshops at one time. Conference management must understand that there has to be adequate time in the schedule between the completion of workshops and the final display of created images (often called a gallery walk). What’s a good rate of speed? I would say 90 minutes for every 16 square feet of finished artwork per artist.
A Place to Draw
Don’t forget that your illustrators will need a location in which to work! While Plenary and Keynote sessions are graphically recorded live and in place, compendium image creation needs a private or at least semi-private location for artwork to be done. It should be noted that because of the time constraints noted above this location might require to be open after hours or after the conference is completed.
— David Carruthers (@dcarruthersedu) October 8, 2018
Final Artwork Presentation
I create graphic recordings predominantly on paper. I personally prefer to see these not posted on a wall, but temporarily mounted on foam core and displayed on easels. My foam boards range from 30, 60 to 90″ wide at 40″ high.
You brought a layer of richness and excitement to the conference that was pretty magical!! – Nancy Hawthorne, ISTE
A Notable Interaction to get People Talking
This is really an aside, but one of my favorite methodologies for engaging conference attendees, speakers and staff I borrow from my father-in-law that is hard of hearing. I will simply put my hand up to my ear as if I too am hard of hearing. This stupidly simple act prompts people to provide quotes, repeat statements, or bring me into a conversation.
This act need not be communicated at the start of a conference, however, having attendees be aware that a graphic recorder is present helps greatly.
Quoting Attendees at a Conference
Being quoted is an act of honor to an individual and having that done in a visual format at a public venue is an even bigger honor. A graphic recorder has the opportunity to collect statements and quotations and combine them all into a large quote wall. Te ability to multiply the effectiveness of a quote wall for a conference on social media is absolutely astounding. Both close-ups and complete quote boards are often shared via a quick smartphone snap.
— Ms. Z (@MsZenTech) October 8, 2018
Another benefit? Your marketing team will love you for actually collecting attendee quotes that can be used for future marketing!
A quick thank you
As mentioned the basis for this article was from an ISTE event that I attended with two other graphic recorders I was blessed to be able to work with Sarah Wood, and Penny Krebiehl. The experience was an honor for me to us all to share in the craft. We all learned a lot (me the most for sure) and we look forward to working together again.
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So much awesome is only partially represented in these pictures from #istelabnfc…the other part is in the actual experiences that took place. There is something that makes your heart melt when people stare at, take pictures of, and want to talk to you about something your poured yourself into with a team of amazing and talented people. I am so grateful for the #graphicrecording experience, connections with educators, and deeper learning about #coding and #CSforALL. @isteconnects is so inspiring!