I fervently believe that Live Illustration is one of the best ways to engage with tradeshow and expo attendees. It’s incredibly human, visceral, imperfect, and memorable.
The idea can manifest in two different ways on large paper panels:
- A hand-drawn illustration of your messaging during the show and make attendees wonder “What’s worth writing down”
- Pose relevant questions to booth visitors and record their answers visually- allowing for self-expression and the opportunity for engagement.
Live Illustration from the Other side of the Conference
I’ve been drawing for conference education sessions for several years. Capturing content spoken by conference speakers in real-time onto large paper boards is a big hit.
The boards created become a huge attraction – allowing event attendees to photograph and take home the best possible notes in the room.
This service wins hearts and minds at conferences and in board rooms, innovation sessions, community gatherings, and strategic planning meetings.
Live Illustration on the Trade Show Floor – Case Study 1 – a Flooring Show
After drawing at a conference in early 2022, a trade show vendor in attendance approached me and asked me to draw out “conversations with our customers as they happen… at a future expo”.
“Sure! I can do that,” I said. I’d not been on the trade show side of an expo gathering for a decade and was interested in bringing my craft to a booth.
As part of my service, I asked for as much information as possible regarding booth messaging. I like to be fully immersed in the content, no matter the situation.
I sketched out some layouts and ideas I might utilize through that review process. I was to draw about carpet fiber, as well as carpet base material. I know you’re thinking… HOW ON EARTH CAN YOU illustrate commercial carpet padding?
Day of the Show
The single morning of the tradeshow arrived at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. The client had purchased a 20×20 floor space and placed my easels and 40″ x 60″ panel in 1/4th of the space – plenty of room ( I have since learned I can play my part in a portion of a 10×10)
I readied my markers and ideas and introduced myself to the merry band of marketing and sales team staffing the booth.
I began to draw as the doors to the expo floor opened.
Drawing Two Boards, about 1 per hour
Carpet fibers, it turns out, can be incredibly complex. The structure, the voids, the light bending, and dirt hiding properties are really impressive. At least, that’s the direction I took when I illustrated each feature separately! I tend to draw at about one 40×60 board per hour (16.66sqft/hour)
I combined product messaging for a new carpet base layer with an “It’s all about the BASE” lyric match-up. It’s amazing how many words can be about carpet if you explore your homonyms carefully!
The audience and the result
The booth was hopping! The sales and marketing team ran out of samples, I passed leads to the team for hours, and I was forced to answer questions about carpet fiber extrusion shapes. (It’s hard selling carpet verbally!)
Aside: My boards were able to introduce the concepts when the brand, sales, or deeply technical questions came to the surface, the sales team jumped in.
Because of the attention capture, this effort was a 1000% success.
Live Illustration on the Trade Show Floor – Case Study 2 – DELL
Dell Technologies invited me to work at the Annual ISTE (Institute of Science and Tech Education) Conference earlier this year. While I did illustrate a panel discussion, I was also sent ‘out of the room’ to work with the crowds walking by!
In the ISTE hallway, a question was posed on the board each afternoon: “As we transform schools, how could these components look?” Four education segments were added to the boards as starters.
The very accessible question was a hit! The scene shown above was one of the dozens of gatherings of passersby that not only came to read what other educators suggested but added their own. This allowed DELL Technologies staff to personally invite each person that stopped to their next presentation/session.
Betting on this ‘trade show’ method for my own promotion
I’m taking this methodology to ASAE next month as I share a booth with the Facilitation Center of Eastern Kentucky University. We’ve designed a series of questions ready for the association executive attendee profile that aligns with our business goals. Can’t wait to share!
If you are interested in hiring me for your event, do contact me about availability.