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Thoughts from a Keynote Artist & Visual Strategist

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  • Writer's pictureJulia Bakay

Is Real-time Event Illustration Truly Real-time?

What to expect from real-time graphic recording by the end of the event...

Let’s first align on the scenario and expectations - say an hour long keynote speech or panel discussion, captured digitally in a simple yet colorful style. Most of the time, this type of Live Illustration is booked by the event organisers looking to surprise their attendees with this visual experience, and/or to have something stunning and tangible to share with everyone at the end. Whatever happens by the end of that hour, I will be sharing my canvas on their screen (or on a projector, during an in-person event), depending on what was requested.

Looking back, I've had many sessions where I was proud to share my screen and was ready to send it over to them right away. Other times, I’m still adding the finishing touches as I share my screen and will spend an extra hour working on the details. And then, there are those (thankfully not in recent times) where I spend hours re-organising my canvas after the event. Why?

Whether I deliver a complete visual map by the end of the event depends on many factors

How much I prepared for the event

If you’d like to impress real-time while Graphic Recording, just put in the work before the event! Visit my article on how we can prepare for a successful Live Illustration session, that can be particularly useful in the first years

How much I was given to prepare with

Knowing the structure of the event is quite essential when planning for Live Illustration! Apart from asking for the agenda, title, perhaps even slides and notes, this is our moment to ask the right questions that will guide us during our real-time Graphic Recording! We’d like to use our canvas space wisely, and knowing what to listen for and what to expect is quite helpful.

How the event itself went

Sometimes, when the graphic doesn’t make sense, it’s not our fault. Events don’t always go as planned, especially in a discussion format, topics may keep coming back or get dropped halfway. This is one of the many reasons I like working digitally; I can take it home and work out how the graphic could tell the key ideas in a logical way. Because regardless of what actually happened, I feel that it is my task to visually convey the key insights in a cohesive way.

So does Graphic Recording happen in real-time…..?

The answer is - it’s absolutely possible.

Ultimately, the more the graphic recorder prepares for your event - spending the time, having the resources, and asking the right questions -, the better output you can expect in real time!

Real time Graphic Recording at an Event

Sometimes, the many hours of extra touches are due to pure perfectionism - if you can relate to that, you might enjoy my article on the Fine Art of Graphic Recording.


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