Learning and Drawing at the LooseTooth Lab

August 9, 2012

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Remember a couple months ago when we were gushing about our friend Brandy Agerbeck’s new workshop, the Lab? Well our newest ImageThink team member, Kelly, just got back from this three-day graphic recording intensive in Chicago. In this post, she shares some of the highlights of that experience.

Brandy and some of the Lab folks reflected in “the Bean” sculpture at Millenium Park.

I had the great fortune to attend Brandy Agerbeck’s three-day workshop, the Lab. Not only was it my first trip to the gorgeous city of Chicago (Brandy gave us a mini architectural walking tour), it was the perfect immersion experience for diving into the field of graphic recording and facilitation. After all, Brandy just wrote the book on the subject!

Content is King

Brandy shows us how she graphically defines the meaning of her numbering system.

Much attention is paid to the drawing aspect of graphic recording and facilitation, but Brandy’s workshop equally stressed the importance of capturing meaning — as she says, “content is king.” We spent a lot of time at the wall, but we also did some listening exercises that helped us “chunk” spoken information into the essential ideas. We also stepped back to see how the information we captured related to each other. Above, Brandy shows us how she strengthens the meaning of a numbering system that she used to outline different theories of how the Great Chicago Fire began. Throughout the workshop, I had the unique feeling that I was learning to see in a new way — how graphic facilitators organize, synthesize and structure information in a way that makes it more accessible and memorable. Below is my chart of the same Chicago Fire presentation. The participants were able to compare our own charts to Brandy’s and the others’ to see the most effective ways to synthesize and represent the auditory information.

My chart of a Stuff You Should Know podcast that examined the true origins of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.

Critique and Feedback

Discussing and critiquing our charts.

One of the best parts of the Lab for me was the opportunity for thoughtful discussion and critique. We spent time after each practice session looking at the work as a group and each individual chart. Hearing what other’s notice about your chart is always useful, and I think it’s the single most important factor in improving a skill set. I got to see my work through the eyes of the others in our group, and learn from what they did as well. We took several before and after photos of our charts because we’d make subtle changes based on feedback. Almost always the suggested changes made the chart more engaging and clear. Over three days, I got to know all of the Lab participants really well. Thanks so much to Aaron, Nicola and Cathleen for your encouragement, your feedback and your humor!

Lab-pal Nicola Bailey’s chalk marker doodle on the Lab windows.