I am a doodler.
As a child I would doodle in the margins and get told off for doing it. As a teenager I would draw on my notes and get told off for doing it. As an adult I would sketch in my notes and feel that I had to hide it.
Learning about sketchnoting was a light bulb moment for me. Something which I had been doing as a casual activity, and even hiding from people, had a label and a functional use in my day-to-day life and work.
Chatting recently with fellow sketchnoter Luise Freese and community legend Anna Chu has led me to reflect on why sketchnoting is an important practice in my life, but how it can be impactful for everyone.
Drawing is a form of communication, a way of conveying a message. The central premise of sketchnoting is that everyone can draw. And everyone can. The notion of can or can’t is driven by the binary concepts of “good” and “bad”. Good and bad is very subjective, and if the goal is to convey ideas then it is much more about the message, than the subjective visual quality.
I have loved to draw all my life but pushed it to the side as a less than a hobby because I did not think I was good enough. Being introduced to sketchnoting gave me permission to just draw my ideas without the restrictions (perceived or otherwise) of what people may think is good or bad.
For something which many of us were reprimanded for doing, sketchnoting and visual thinking has many benefits including:
It is a tool that you can use for your personal enjoyment and growth or extend it to share with your peers and the community in meetings or at events. Whether or not you share them widely, sketchnotes will help you start conversations and build community connections.
Sketchnoting is first and foremost a personal thing. Given that, I think that the best way to start sketchnoting is with something of interest to you, a set goal or objective. You can sketchnote about anything you like, but commonly people start by sketchnoting a presentation, meeting or event. It helps to have something to start with so at the end of this post we set a challenge for you to make the process easier.
When it comes to the “how to” I have covered the basics on my blog:
There are many simple and practical resources available for you to build up your own sketchnoting practice. Here are a handful of resources which were fundamental to my growth as a sketchnoter.
The sketchnoting community on Twitter is so open, and a wonderful example of the positive impact of community.
Mike Rodhe is a sketchnoting legend and his book gives you all the tips, hints and exercises you need to start your sketchnotes.
Fundamental to sketchnoting is the concept that doodling is more than a frivolous activity, in fact one which is essential and enriching. Sunni Brown’s Doodle Revolution espouses the value of visual literacy:
My first exposure to sketchnoting was through Matt Magain who is a prolific visual practitioner and the founder of Sketch Group. I recommend following Matt and the work of Sketch Group for inspiration.
Sometimes all we need to get started doing something new is a challenge, a starting point.
Whether or not you have sketchnoted before our challenge to you is as follows:
“Use sketchnotes to show a day or week in your life on one page”
My hot tips are:
I look forward to seeing your creations.
As a special bonus Luise and I both sketchnoted this episode of The Uptake Podcast. We didn't do it while we were being interviewed, that would have been a feat, but we got an early release of the episode so we could share this with you.
I recorded my sketchnotes while I was doing them so you can see the whole process. I used OneNote for Windows on Surface Pro 4. Here you can see the:
If you would like to get in touch and see more of my sketchnotes here is where you can find me:
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