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  • Writer's pictureJulia Bakay

Graphic Recording & The Importance of Improv

When I stepped into a career as a Graphic Recorder & Facilitator, I soon realized that being talented and quick at drawing won't be enough here. In order to succeed, I'll need to awaken that type of wit that many of us only explore when playing charades!

I started thinking about how I could develop this skillset and where one might exercise this mental muscle.... I joined an Improv club!

From the very start, I felt how important Improv was, not only for my work, but for life in general. Having the flexibility and confidence to play and improvise as an adult is a gift that can truly enhance the quality of our everyday life; this developed ease comes across in the way we communicate and handle the waves of life.

Just as I had hoped, these Improv workshops helped to equip me with the tools I needed in my professional life as well.

I didn't have to search long for the correlations between the two, and it felt as if I was taking courses on the psychological background of Graphic Recording. I was immediately able to apply the principles learned from Improv Comedy in my Live Graphic Recording work.

The more I played and learned at the Improv workshops, the faster and wittier my Graphic Recordings became, and I realised...

Live Graphic Recording is a form of Improv.

How Improv can help become the best Graphic Recorder

So, what are the key Improv principles that can bring out your best as a Graphic Recorder?

  • There are no mistakes - everything is useful and can lead to great things

  • Say YES - go with the flow and see where it leads

  • Say 'Yes, and' - build on what's establish and take it to the next level

  • You don't have to be funny - comedy can arise from the most unexpected of places, you don't need to force it

  • Don't overthink it - try not to let your mind get in the way and let things flow naturally - see The Pandemic of Inhibitions

  • Show, don't tell - exposition is boring and lazy, try to bring it to life!

  • It's about connection - the more immersed you are, the more relevant and insightful you'll be

  • Focus on the here and now - find that state of flow in the present, don't try to think ahead or second-guess yourself - see Graphic Recording, A Practice of Presence

  • Tell a story - connect the points and discover the magic happening between them

Live Graphic Recording and Improvisational Comedy are like distant relatives, seemingly unrelated yet inherently sharing so many qualities!

With Improv's roots going back to the 15th century (Commedia dell’arte), Improv is a treasure trove of well-founded theory and principles to offer to Graphic Recorders looking to improve their creativity and awaken their playful spirit,


Thoughts from a Keynote Artist & Visual Strategist

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