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Thoughts from a Keynote Artist & Visual Strategist

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  • Writer's pictureJulia Bakay

Jazz Jealousy - the Warm World of Visual Facilitators

A great swing dancing friend of mine once explained a great term she coined during her decade of dancing - Jazz Jealousy. It's the feeling you get watching an amazing dancer on the floor, a 'dancing crush' as she calls it. You're mesmerized, amazed, inspired by what is possible... and yes, a bit jealous.

This jealousy is a warm one though - you don't want to take anything from them, you just want to be where they are. And deep down you know that they got there because of all the work and time they put in... Perhaps what we truly envy is their focus and dedication.

In the world of swing dancing, part of the fun is learning more moves from each other as we dance. You can invent something on the fly and it could take off, but the moves don't really belong to anyone... unless you're Frankie Manning, of course.

The beauty is that you get to develop your own style shaped by your traits - what your body is capable of and what suits your character. As you continue to develop and spending time on the dance floor, you might come across people with similar attributes as you; these are the very best to learn from. You see a move and you decided to include it in your next dance.

Thus, the amazing mental vocabulary of swing dance moves keeps growing, with new inventions passing on to future generations.

Jazz Jealousy - Swing Dancing is like Visual Facilitation

I see a great parallel here with my current profession, as the same rules apply to the world of Visual Facilitators. 'Steal like an Artist', it is said, because you don't have to start from nothing, and neither did those you're looking at for inspiration.

What you build from all that you observe (deliberately or subconsciously) will become your unique combination, something absolutely new and personal that you will be able to offer to the world! ...and that will become an inspiration to others.

I went through a few months of ignored job-hunting efforts; I don't blame them - I was in the US and needed Visa Sponsorship, I was overqualified, under-experienced, and there was a pandemic that left 13% of Americans unemployed. Not ideal.

I got to a few final stage interviews, from Hachette to Tesla, but they all fell through around the moment the visa issues came up.

It was while I was there, working to make a miracle happen, that I discovered Graphic Recording. Wounded by many unanswered letters and applications, I hesitantly began reaching out to Visual Facilitators around the world.

To my greatest relief, all I received was positive, inviting and encouraging messages. I had accidentally tapped into the warmest, most welcoming community ever. I flew back to Europe and set up my company a few months later.

I’m very aware that most people have never heard of what we do - perhaps that's part of the beauty of it. This requires a niche visual skillset, along with the flexibility and spontaneity that is needed to stay in business.

And we never stop learning from one another. A conversation with a fellow Visual Facilitator always leaves me with a sense of peace and inspiration. We also connect through the graphics we create and share, and with every new witty idea or visual technique, our collective repertoire grows.

I hope we all get to pursue our beloved profession for as long as we desire.


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