Artwork

תוכן מסופק על ידי Sketchnote Army Podcast and Mike Rohde. כל תוכן הפודקאסטים כולל פרקים, גרפיקה ותיאורי פודקאסטים מועלים ומסופקים ישירות על ידי Sketchnote Army Podcast and Mike Rohde או שותף פלטפורמת הפודקאסט שלו. אם אתה מאמין שמישהו משתמש ביצירה שלך המוגנת בזכויות יוצרים ללא רשותך, אתה יכול לעקוב אחר התהליך המתואר כאן https://he.player.fm/legal.
Player FM - אפליקציית פודקאסט
התחל במצב לא מקוון עם האפליקציה Player FM !

Ashton Rodenhiser brings visual clarity with graphic recording and facilitation - S14/E08

1:05:14
 
שתפו
 

Manage episode 390393647 series 2804354
תוכן מסופק על ידי Sketchnote Army Podcast and Mike Rohde. כל תוכן הפודקאסטים כולל פרקים, גרפיקה ותיאורי פודקאסטים מועלים ומסופקים ישירות על ידי Sketchnote Army Podcast and Mike Rohde או שותף פלטפורמת הפודקאסט שלו. אם אתה מאמין שמישהו משתמש ביצירה שלך המוגנת בזכויות יוצרים ללא רשותך, אתה יכול לעקוב אחר התהליך המתואר כאן https://he.player.fm/legal.

In this episode, Ashton Rodenhiser shares her mission to teach sketchnoting skills to students and professionals so they can use doodling and drawing as their best thinking and learning tools.

Sponsored by Concepts

This episode of the Sketchnote Army Podcast is brought to you by Concepts, a perfect tool for sketchnoting, available on iOS, Windows, and Android.

Concepts' vector-based drawing feature gives you the power to adjust your drawings saving hours and hours of rework.

Vectors provide clean, crisp, high-resolution output for your sketchnotes at any size you need s ideal for sketchnoting.

SEARCH in your favorite app store to give it a try.

Running Order

  • Intro
  • Welcome
  • Who is Ashton?
  • Origin Story
  • Ashton’s current work
  • Sponsor: Concepts
  • Tips
  • Tools
  • Where to find Ashton
  • Outro

Links

Amazon affiliate links support the Sketchnote Army Podcast.

Tools

Amazon affiliate links support the Sketchnote Army Podcast.

Tips

  1. However you need to create it, do it.
  2. Cliches are okay.
  3. Don't get into the comparing mode.
  4. When you are intimidated, you can instead flip it and turn it into inspiration.
  5. Have clean nice letters.

Credits

  • Producer: Alec Pulianas
  • Theme music: Jon Schiedermayer
  • Shownotes and transcripts: Esther Odoro

Subscribe to the Sketchnote Army Podcast

You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube or your favorite podcast listening source.

Support the Podcast

To support the creation, production and hosting of the Sketchnote Army Podcast, buy one of Mike Rohde’s bestselling books. Use code ROHDE40 at Peachpit.com for 40% off!

Episode Transcript

Mike Rohde: Hey everyone, it's Mike and I'm here with Ashton. Ashton Rodenhiser, how are you today?

Ashton Rodenhiser: I'm doing so well, Mike. Thanks so much for having me. I'm happy to be here.

MR: It's so great to have you on. We've had fits and starts trying to get this recorded and we finally did it, so I'm excited. And so looking forward to talking with you and sharing your story with everyone. So why don't we just jump right in? Tell us who you are and what you do.

AR: Yeah. So I am based in Canada, on the East Coast of Canada. You know, being a mother is pretty important to me, so I always like to mention that. I have three small children between the ages of 5 and 10. I felt like growing up I really wanted to be an artist, but it was like never an option 'cause there was just so much negative rhetoric in my home, in my community about, you know, the lack of art opportunities out there. I put that in a diplomatic way.

And so, I really struggled even though I did really well in school, I really did not know what I "wanted to be when I grew up." And I fell into a role as a facilitator. I did that for a couple of years, and that's how I learned about graphic facilitation and kind of where I am today. That was 10 years ago, this month, fall of 2013. It's really easy for me to remember because it was the longest I'd left my six-month-old at the time. It was a whole day to take a graphic facilitation course.

I had never even seen it before, but I was like, "This is the best thing ever," where I was able to take my experience as a facilitator and my love for all things creative and mash them together. And then I was facilitating a group at the time and luckily, they were just so great and easygoing. I just threw some paper on the wall and started drawing and I was like, I don't know what I'm doing. It was horrible. But I still have that picture to this day and share it often actually as like, "This was my first one, look how bad it was."

And you know, I put it away for a few months and then I brought it out after a while and I looked at it and I was like, "Whoa, I can remember so much from this." It took it from, oh, this is kind of fun and cool and neat to, whoa, this is an actually a powerful thing. This is a way to help navigate that learning and that experience. So doing it in the moment was fun and great, but it was more so about that like after effect for me when I brought it out later and reflected on it and was like, this is more than what I thought it was, in a way.

Then it was at that point that I was like, I might like this. This seems like actually helpful. So maybe I will do this more 'cause it's a good time and it's actually helpful. So, fast forward a little bit. I did, you know, a little bit for those first few years and I actually attended the IFVP Conference in Austin, Texas in 2015. And I was a scholarship recipient for that. There's no way I would've been able to go if I hadn't received that. So, very grateful to that opportunity to this day.

And I went with a mission in mind. I was like," I'm gonna go and just try to soak up as much as I can. And when I leave, I'm gonna make a decision." Like this is gonna be just like a side hobby that I'll do when people ask me to. Or I'm gonna take this like seriously as a business and I'm gonna try to do it. And obviously, you know, the answer to that question. But yeah, it was a few months after that, after I had my second child that I started building a business around graphic recording, graphic facilitation, live illustration. Yeah.

MR: You know, it's interesting you said that it took you a while putting away the work to see your own value in it later. You looked at it like, "Wow, this is really helpful. I remember a lot of the detail because of the work I did." So I think what you were sort of seeing was, I think was a delayed reaction to what the people in the rooms saw.

AR: Right. Yeah.

MR: 'Cause You know, a lot of times we look back at the work we do and we think, "In light of what I do now, that's so terrible. It was so bad." But then, you know, to the people in the moment who experienced it, for them it was, you know, mind blowing because they'd never seen anything like that. And it was helpful regardless of what it looked like. It brings you back to like, it's a lot more of the action of the doing and a whole lot less on the beauty of it. Functionality of it is way more valuable now. Of course, it's good if you can make it look really beautiful. I mean, that's always nice.

AR: That's a bonus, definitely.

MR: But it reminds you that the bones of this stuff that we do is really about the functionality of the work we're doing. And then if we can layer on beauty and layout and all these things on top of it, that just adds another layer to it and it makes it even more enjoyable for both you and for the recipient. Anyway, that struck me when you brought that out.

'Cause I've been thinking about that too. I've looked at some really old sketchnotes that I did way back in 2007, was like, "Compared to what I do now, these are very rudimentary and basic." But I needed to start somewhere. And even those, the bones of them were valuable regardless of if they were exactly what I would've wanted now. I mean, at the time I was okay with it, obviously. So, interesting.

AR: Yeah, No, I love that. I love that for sure.

MR: Well, I'm curious, you mentioned coming from Eastern Canada and you talked about the scholarship to go to Austin, which I can imagine that trip was not cheap and that scholarship probably helped. So tell us your origin story. How did you—you gave us hints to it, you went to this event and made that decision. Fill us some more detail about, how were you as a little girl that brought you to the point at Austin, right? Like, were you always drawing, like, all that stuff?

Because I too faced a thing where my dad sat me down and said, "Mike, you can't make money in art. You should find another career path." And I went into printing. And through printing, I found that design was actually a path I could take, which was related. So I'd love to hear your little girl to Austin story, and then I'd love to hear more detail about building that business and how did you come to where you're now?

AR: Oh my gosh. Yeah. I guess, I try to do a overview, but yeah, I can dive into it a bit more. I've always been very creative, very self-taught. I've never really taken an art class in my life. I call myself a dabbler. So name a medium, I've probably tried it. Either I tried it for a week or I tried it for a year. I sold painted rocks as a child at craft fairs.

So I guess I didn't realize I was a bit entrepreneurial until I started a business and I'm like, "Oh, yeah, I guess I have done entrepreneurial things throughout my life." And it was funny that I also was connected to something creative. So I've always been really fascinated in different mediums, but I didn't actually spend a whole lot of time drawing. I painted and did things like that, but I didn't actually draw pictures a lot.

I had a few, how to draw cats, how to draw some things, but I didn't have a lot of patience for building the skill of drawing. The art forms that I would find were more instant gratification. I wanted to paint a picture in an hour. I didn't wanna paint a picture over a series of months. So I didn't realize until a few years ago that I think my impatience is actually one of the things that is kind of, I feel like with sketchnoting and live illustration and all that is actually a beautiful fit for me because you have the timeframe and you're like, "All right, it's a half an hour, it's done. Or it's an hour, it's done. Or it's a day, it's done."

I've always been very creative, but just doing my own thing, self-taught, try different things. If anything, I learned many different instruments. Learning how to play the bagpipes right now, just for fun, you know. So I took lessons for things like that. But I think, like I said earlier, I didn't even really consider being an artist because it was just the aura.

No one really sat me down, like, your experience and said, "You can't do that. That's not gonna work out for you." It was just the stories I would hear of people saying, "Oh, that kid, are you going to art school, good luck with that." And I'm like, "Well, I don't want that for me." You know. And at the time, the only thing that I had considered was being a teacher 'cause I'd always really loved kids.

I graduated high school around the recession, 2008 recession. And so it was a hard time to decide what to do after high school because no matter what you did, no one had jobs. Around here anyways, at that time there was a lot of people graduating teacher college and not having work. So I felt like that was going to be a waste of time if I go and spend all this time doing this education and then it doesn't work out.

So I pursued an early childhood education to work with these little kids. And that's when I got a job at a nonprofit. I moved to the city thinking that I might be a sign language interpreter. So I started taking all the prerequisites to do that. And that's what I went to the city for. Ended up there being there for a few years because I loved this job at this nonprofit where I started to learn about community development and facilitation. And that's how I got into that.

But still, I painted and I did a few things, you know, throughout my life, but I definitely had, you know, dips and lulls, you know, when I was on a very strict budget trying to pay back my student loan. I had a craft budget of $20 a week that I would allow myself to go and buy art supplies. And it was like the highlight of my week, and I would just craft all the rest of the week. But yeah, it was just all over the place in terms of just the things that we would do for fun.

That's how I met my husband in high school, I was knitting in the library. And then, I just felt like when I found this work, it was this beautiful coming together of the things that I loved about facilitation and the listening and the thinking 'cause I felt like I always wanted to have a job where I wanted to help people. But when you're younger, the notion of helping people are, you know, you have to be a doctor or something like that. Well, how am I supposed to help people if I don't wanna be a doctor or new nurse or something like that.

And when I found facilitation and in this world with those two coming together, I was like, "Oh my gosh, I could like help people. I could help people learn and engage." And I really fell in love with group process with facilitation, creating a safe space and allowing them to feel heard. And it's not about me imposing my ideas or my knowledge, it's really about them.

And I was like, this is the best 'cause You don't need to know anything. You know, I joke about that with teachers. But it's this beautiful space to be able to create for people. And then when I started experiencing doing it in the graphical way, I was like, this is really, really cool and I wanna do more of it. Yeah.

MR: It sort of added that craft or that creative layer that had been missing, it seems like to me.

AR: Yeah, definitely.

MR: So you had all the facilitation skills and what this added was the creative part of you then could be turned on and be active too, right? And just not all business.

AR: Yeah. And I think that's why—I don't know if I didn't have the experience as the facilitation person first, I don't know what the transition would've been like. I feel like because I had my listening and my thinking skills honed over a few years, the adding the visual element wasn't as scary, I think as it might be for others who are like, "Now I have to, you know, listen and think and draw. So I have to like, develop all these skills."

Whereas like, I had the listening and the thinking skills, I had been developing that already, adding in the drawing, like, so then I was able to focus more those early years on the drawing part because I was the listening and thinking was a bit more intuitive. You know, 'cause the way I would describe to people is, as a facilitator, you're listening and thinking, and you're feeding back in words.

And now I can listen and think and feedback in pictures, right? So, I don't think it was as big of a jump coming from that space because I'm like, "I can learn the drawing skills. I can learn over time." I didn't really put a whole lot of pressure on myself in the beginning. I just learned some basic drawings. I joke with people that I basically drew a light bulb on every single graphic I did for three years because I'm like, "I know how to draw a light bulb." You know what I mean?

I think I just allowed myself to know that I would develop those skills over time if I just kept at it and that the listening and the thinking would really pull me through. Because even if it's mostly words and little drawings there, those few years, the content is always gonna be so important, especially when you're in a room with people and allowing them to feel valued and heard. If you throw a few graphics in there, you know, pretty basic when you're starting, it doesn't really matter, right?

And sometimes when I'm teaching and talking with people about it, I'm like, you know, "That will come over time. Just be patient with yourself." And, you know, a lot of times people—this is still really new and they don't have anything to compare it to, which is amazing. So if you just throw some paper on a wall and do it, it's gonna be amazing no matter what. You know what I mean?

MR: Right.

AR: It just is opening that door and like, they don't know that other people exist in the world who have been doing it longer and maybe it looks like, "prettier." Like, it doesn't matter. And sometimes it's needs to be messy. 'Cause I tell people like, conversations are messy, so sometimes the graphic's gonna be messy. And that's just what it is, you know?

MR: Yeah. Comes back to our earlier discussion about what's the most important it's the bones of the value of being in the room together, being heard, capturing something.

AR: Exactly. Yeah.

MR: It's a good enough graphic. You know, in my experience as designer, especially when I do concept work with people, 'cause that's really what I do, whether it's illustration, I used to do logo and icon design, the rougher the sketches the better because then they feel like they have a say in it, they have a part in it, they can see, you know, there's room to maneuver a little bit.

So in some ways, the messier sketches are actually more attractive, weirdly enough, in a process environment, because the focus is on the process. And then eventually, as long as you're in a boat—you know, if you're in a sailboat, which I've been on, you know, you're not going in a straight line. You're catching the wind one way, and you're tacking back and forth, but you're going toward a final destination, right. You're not just going in a straight line like you can in a motorboat. Even in a motorboat, honestly, they're floating around a little bit too, right.

So if you think about that as a metaphor, it's being by water, right? So it's like, but ultimately you're gonna get to Nova Scotia, right? You're gonna come in to that point, it's just like the way you get there is gonna maybe be messy for a while. So if you think of it that way, you know, you're moving towards a destination and you know, it's gonna have its ups and downs, but everybody knows that we're gonna end up in the right place. That that's a great feeling.

AR: Yeah. I love that. That's a great analogy. I'm gonna use that.

MR: You steal it if you want to.

AR: Yes, I will. Thank you.

MR: Well, that's really cool. So tell us a little bit about the kind of work you're doing now. What is your ideal clients and is there someone you can share, you know, that you don't have any kind of agreements with that you're, that you can talk about? And then also, you have a book you've released. I want you to talk about that book, most definitely. So let's go in that order. Tell us a little bit about the work you do and then let's talk about your book.

AR: I usually spend my time doing graphic recording, graphic facilitation. The way that I like to define it is graphic recordings, more like the conference world. There's speakers. I do a lot of that. Like, that's probably the majority, right. And then there's the graphic facilitation world, which is what we talked a lot about so far, is finding myself in those situations where there's groups of people and you're helping them come to some decision or, you know, there's multiple voices.

So usually let's say like one voice or multiple voices. A room full of people having a conversation or a speaker on a stage. So lots of graphic recording, some graphic facilitation, would love to do more of it, but some of that. And I started teaching in person workshops, I think back in 2018, 2000 and something like that. Like pretty early on. And did some in-person things, and just did another one last week. But I hadn't done one in three years because you know, the world.

MR: Yeah. Yeah.

AR: And so, it was so exciting to get back in person because there's nothing better than, you know, helping people stand at a wall for the first time and make those marks. So, some of that. And then, yeah, released my "Beginner's Guide to Sketchnoting" book here just a few months ago. Because I was finding that a lot of people were saying to me all the time, "I would love to learn this skill. I wish you could follow me around, we record every meeting that I go to."

And I would say to people, you know, "It's like, not that hard. You could totally learn it." And they just brush you off. They're like, "No, no way. I could possibly." And I'm like, "But you could though, but you could." And so, I started this sort of journey process of putting this book together, which took about a year and a half and did beta reading and getting feedback from people. 'Cause with the idea of trying to make the concept of learning sketchnoting as accessible as possible. Really handholding people through that process.

We can talk a little more about that if you want to, but that's generally it. And so yeah, I have a little sketchnoting community and the book and stuff. So I'm just in this space now of really trying to just talk about, you know, helping people move through learning this.

And one area that I'm specifically focusing, and I'm trying to do some case studies this year, is like, with students in school and trying to get into some schools and do some case studies. And with a little bit of trouble, but I'm getting there. I'm getting there trying to build relationships and do the things there, because I think if we can—like my 10-year-old, I've been teaching her some things because I know that in her school, that's when they start teaching note taking.

So I don't know what it is like for other places in the world, but grade 5, age 10 is where they start to introduce note taking. So I was like, "Okay, well if this is when they're starting to introduce it, then maybe that's the age demographic or group that I need to be talking about."

Because I do have schools that have brought me in to teach like older grades, but I feel like if we could do it earlier as the foundation and then they can choose, they have multiple ways that they can do their note taking and do it right in the beginning instead of, you know, they started to have develop a way that they do it, and then a few years later you introduce this, then it might not come as naturally. So I'm trying to find that sweet spot right now and work with schools to see what that looks like trying to get that into part of their learning for note taking. Yeah.

MR: Well, I would guess having a book that's published certainly helps with getting in. That's helped me for sure. Who would you say is the main ideal reader for the book? Do you have in mind a group of people that the book is aimed to? Or is it more of a broad, anybody can read this book kind of thing?

AR: Yeah. It's definitely a broad, but more of someone who might have considered themselves creative at one point, maybe have a weird relationship with creativity, because I find I'm having more conversations about that these days where people are like, "Well, I'm not creative." I'm like, "But you are though. But you are. Maybe you don't draw and that's okay. But maybe you're really funny or maybe—"

MR: Some other space. Yeah.

AR: Yeah. Maybe you're a good storyteller, you know. So, I find it's more of the people that want to reengage with their creativity. And I feel like that's just, like I said, a lot of the conversation I'm having with people a lot lately, but they have this weird relationship maybe with drawing. Maybe they doodled a little bit, maybe they didn't, but they know that the way that they kind of learn traditional note taking just doesn't work for them. And they're trying to see what they can do to get back to adding a little bit more creativity into their learning space, right. And having to do that.

MR: How can they make it enjoyable?

AR: Exactly. So I find that that's the—you know, that plus trying to encourage students and kids to do as well. But in terms of my more adult audience, it seems to be—you know, so some of it's like, you know, English as a second language teachers that are trying to be able to explain concepts. And I work a lot in technology, so I end up having a lot of people in cybersecurity and things like that in my community, and they're trying to figure out how to be able to explain more technical concepts and things like that.

MR: That's pretty cool.

AR it is quite broad, but it's like, you know, the leap that people think is really scary and trying to make that not as scary 'cause just getting people to share their first one. Just do one, just do one sketchnote and share it, that seems to be the biggest leap for people. 'Cause once you do that first one, you're like, "Oh, that wasn't so scary." You know what I mean?

MR: Yeah.

AR: So it's more about like that type of person who's like, "Oh, I'd like to try this." And in my book, I don't talk about any theory, I just drop a little brain guy throughout it. Like, "Oh yeah, did you know this thing, and there's this research?" 'Cause I want it just to get right to it and get people to put pen to paper quickly as possible. Because that's one thing that really frustrates me about nonfiction books is that most of them, unfortunately, are idea books.

And I didn't want it to be a book like, "Sketchnoting is good, see you later." You know, be like, "Draw this thing, do this exercise." You know. And it's big and short enough that it is hopefully not overwhelming for people, you know? Like, it was twice as long and I just cut it and cut it and cut it. And then anything that I felt was a little bit advanced, I was just cut. I just like, nope. Or when I was doing my beta reading and people were getting confused, I was like, "Okay. Too advanced, cut it, cut it."

MR: Well, you know, save those things for your second book, I guess for the advanced students who move in part two, right. You can put those in a second edition. Or not a second edition, but another book for those who wanna proceed to level two.

AR: Yeah. Yeah. So I really wrote it in the sense of trying to handhold people through the process and to cut down that learning curve as much as I possibly can, because I feel like I was just encountering so many people that were like, "Oh, I could never do that." And I'm like, "But you could. You definitely could." And trying to show people in a really low barrier to entry, non-threatening way that that it's possible, right?

So, the first thing that I walk in through in the book is like, "Just draw a line. You did it." The book's very cheer leadery. I'm like, "You got this." You know. 'Cause I think what happens is people look at beautiful sketchnotes by yourself or me, and they're like, "Oh, I can never do that." You know, I'm like, "But you can't compare your beginning to my 10 plus years in, right?

MR: Right. I tell people that too.

AR: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. I love it when people can see the—like, "This was my first one. This was my first one." And they can compare from that space rather than, "Oh, well, if they look at Ashton's, oh my God, I could never create that." And I'm like, you know, I try to tell people, I'm like, "But I've been doing this for so long. And I do so many." I think I recorded over 600 presentations just last year. So like, that's a lot.

MR: It's a lot of practice.

AR: That's a lot.

MR: Lots, yeah.

AR: That's a lot, you know. If you did 600 in a year, you'd be pretty good too. Like, maybe even better than mine. You know what I mean?

MR: Right. There might be something in you that we don't even know about because you haven't explored it. Right. But it's never fair to compare your first shot to my finished product after years and years of practice. It's not a fair comparison and it shouldn't be.

AR: Yeah. I wish I would've read this before I published my book, or I would've put it in it, but there's a book called "Find Your Artistic Voice by Lisa Congdon. And in it, she talks about the beginner's gap. And when I read it, I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is like exactly what I've been thinking about this whole time." But she put it in these concise, beautiful words, but there's where you wanna be, right? "I want my stuff to look like Ashton's or Mike's or whoever," right?

But then there's your skillset, and your skillset doesn't match where you wanna be. So there's this huge gap in between. So what happens is that, because they're like, "I want my skills to match this." But they don't, they don't close the gap. They don't do the practice and the work to get to the point where their skills are developed that it could look, you know, in their own style or in their own whatever, right.

That's where see and I get saddened by when people are at that stage in the very beginning, but they see where they wanna go, and they just stop before they even start trying. You know. They're like, "I can't, I'm never gonna be like that. I want my—" Or they'll try it and they'll be so unhappy with it because it doesn't match their expectation of reality in their mind, right. Like, "Oh, I want it to look like this and it didn't, so I give up." Right.

So, my part with trying to put this book together is like, how can I help close that gap just even a little bit and allow people to get a little bit of success so that they feel like then they can continue to develop their skills? 'Cause people ask me all the time, like, "How did you get to the point you are? And I'm like, "Just practice." Like, it's not a sexy answer, unfortunately.

MR: Yeah. Just kept going. Yeah.

AR: But I just did it and did it, and they were bad and they were messy and they were not beautiful. You know what I mean? But even though when I go back and I look at my earlier stuff and how messy, and they looked like they still served a purpose for the people or for myself. So it didn't really matter. Like we were talking about like, you know, sometimes the messier the better too, right?

MR: Mm-hmm.

AR: But I do teach aesthetics because people care about that. Because if I just said, "It doesn't matter what it looks." No one would do it. They'd be like, well, if it s mess—like I want it to look nice. So I definitely do teach that. But with trying to infuse "it doesn't matter" at the same time. It's okay if it's messy. Yeah.

MR: Sort of like, it's good enough for where you are now, and let's keep going. So it's like you have that far away goal of it needs to look like that thing, but I know that's gonna be difficult, but what I did today is good enough for a first step and for today and tomorrow I'll get a little tiny bit better, and the next day I'll get a little tiny bit better and then I'll backtrack and then I'll get back and get back to normal and, you know. Sort of like, no, if you let people know that it's gonna be a journey.

It's like setting expectations so there's not an expectation like, "Well, I'll do this for an hour and I'll be as good as someone who, you know, done 600 pieces in a year." That's not a fair comparison. So again, it's almost like resetting perspective around what's a reasonable expectation for you.

AR: Absolutely.

MR: That's what we're doing in a lot of ways, which is, I think it's good. That's good. Because there's a lot of places where that mindset is helpful, not just in the work we do. So, it's really cool.

AR: Yeah. I'm nervous to say this to you, Mike, but I will say I almost feel like my book might be a precursor to your book. There's a few things in there that are similar, but I don't know if you feel the same way, but feel it's a bit of the—

MR: Well, I'm a big believer in lots of books existing because I think there's a lot of voices that exist and not everybody is in the right place to hear just one book. And a lot of times a different person at a different time and a different way is the right solution for that person. So I'm a big believer in, hey there's a lot of people that don't do anything yet. We need a lot of books that reach in every direction.

So that very may well be that someone would maybe process through your book and then "I wanna go to the next level, or I wanna just see a different voice. Oh, I like how Mike does it. For me, that fits for me. I'm gonna follow that path." Or, "I'm gonna choose this other book because that makes sense to me." And I think that's good to have options 'cause Not everybody is the same. And to expect them to be all the same and just use one resource is not realistic, right?

AR: And I want the listeners to know how great you are. So I'm gonna just talk about you for a second. I was very nervous to put this book out, and I felt like I needed your thumbs up of approval because you're the dude that coined the term sketchnoting. And when I was writing this book, I was really worried because I'm like, "I didn't create this word. You know, I try to make that very clear every time I talk to anybody, I'm always like, "Mike Rohde, Mike Rohde, Mike Rohde," always talking about you all the time.

Because it can be very scary to put out work like this and you don't know how it's gonna be received. And when I got on that call with you earlier this year, you were like, "The more the merrier." And I'm like, oh, that makes me feel so good because it does feel like we—you know, the visual thinking community is like, we're worldwide, but tight-knit, you know? And I've experienced that and it's the best community ever.

And I think because we are so caring for each other is like, we wanna make sure we're doing things in like the most respectful way possible. And you know, I felt so—I was just like, I'm on cloud nine after I got off that call with you because you were like, "The more the merrier. I love it." You know, and exactly kind of the things you just said too. And I think that's like, having that sort of abundance mindset is just like such a beautiful thing and such a asset to this community.

So I really appreciated your kindness because it definitely feels like you know, from the outside, it's like—it's a funny thing when you're putting something like this together. I'm like, "No, it's not the Sketchnote Handbook, but it's like, you know, I'm just trying to do my thing and just share what I've learned over all these years too." And yeah, it can be a funny thing. So just shout out how great you are. I really appreciated that.

MR: I'm glad that I made your day that day and it is what I believe. And I think it's really important that we—I just always come back to there's so many opportunities. When you fight over one opportunity, it's like there's so many opportunities to do the work to encourage people. There's a whole population of people that don't do this. We've only scratched the surface and reached a tiny little fraction even now after 10, 15 years, right?

AR: Oh my gosh.

MR: And then there's more people getting born every day that don't know about this stuff. Though it is, you know, having an impact in schools. The funny story I could tell here, I don't if I've told this on the podcast before, is I have a 14-year-old daughter in middle school. Last year when she was 13, she came home and said, "Hey dad, they're teaching Sketchnoting in my class. And I told the teacher that she wrote the book on sketchnoting and she didn't believe me."

And then I told her that she should go to the library because she knew that I'd sent books there. And the teacher came back and said, "You're right. He did write the book." And she was all real proud that I had a book in this school.

AR: That is amazing. Oh, that's the best. That's awesome.

MR: So they do get exposed to it, at least in our school. I mean, it's very spotty, all over the country. But I do know school teachers especially get really excited because , you know, when you think about what you're doing with this visual note-taking with sketchnoting is that you're encouraging kids who would normally doodle anyway in a lot of cases.

AR: Exactly.

MR: To do something productive with it, to use it as a way to focus your attention and to capture ideas. So that's a win. And you know, as you do it, you realize your students actually absorb and understand better and can remember more. So for a teacher, this is like the magic thing, right? How could you not wanna to do that for your students, right?

AR: I know, right? How is everybody not doing this, Mike? Right?

MR: Yeah. Yeah. So teachers are huge fans and I'm a huge backer of teachers. I haven't done a lot of work with school districts. Through the pandemic, I worked with on school district, but I know that they're out there and I'm excited when I do hear from them. And sometimes I get opportunities to come and speak to their schools. And that's really fun for me because then it brings it full circle to see, okay, it's having an impact on teachers which are having an impact on students and they're getting this option, right.

And it's not for everybody. There's some students that doesn't fit with, I understand that. But the ones who do, that could be just a way. I get messages all the time, "Hey, I was a student in university, and using sketchnoting help me survive in my studies." Well, that's what it's all about, so.

AR: Yeah. And I think, you know, just overarching, there is so much room in this community, the sketchnoting the graphic recording, the live illustrate , whatever it is, however you want to kind of follow that path, I think there's so much room, and I think you're right in terms of scratching the surface. If this is something that you wanna do or get into.

Like even at my workshop, my live in person workshop I did last or I guess week in a bit ago now, you know, there was a woman there and she was like, "Is there room for me?" And I'm like, "Oh my gosh, there is room for you." Like the way that I see it is when people experience the value of it, they want more of it. And then eventually, there's not gonna be enough people who do it professionally.

There's just more to go around and the more people experience the power of it, the more it's gonna be required and desired in meeting places and at events and things like that. So I think there is a lot of room for new and upcoming people in this space too, no matter how—there could be hundreds of people out there just doing sketchnoting in classrooms. We need that, we need people who are advocating for it in there you know, so that it—it's just like you said, it's not gonna be for everybody and that's okay, but just like as an option, right. And we know how valuable it is. So, you know, there is so much room in the community for sure.

MR: Yeah. I think that's true. Well, this feels like a really good natural point then to shift to what are the tools that you like to use? Let's start with analog first and go to digital. You probably use both, I suspect. I'd just love to hear.

AR: I definitely have a pre and post-COVID world story when it comes to—

MR: Yeah. Let's tie that in there.

AR: Yeah. Well, so pre-COVID, I was 100 percent paper, markers. And then I had started practicing some digital, 'cause I thought at some point someone might ask me, "Hey, do you do digital? "And I'd be primed and ready to go. And then of course, COVID is like, "You are forced to do digital, Miss." Which for me actually was a blessing in disguise because I was traveling so much, having little kids. It was getting a lot.

MR: That's tough.

AR: So COVID in a sense was a beautiful blessing in disguise 'cause I've still been able to retain some of those clients, and they're doing it in person, but I'm just zoomed in and they're just showing my screen, and it's a beautiful thing. So, of course Neuland, everyone talks about Neuland. The best. What do you say? You know, they're number one. Even for those first one or two years, I just used sketcher markers. That was a beautiful stepping stone.

I am scent sensitive, so I think Neuland was a beautiful choice. Not just because the quality is there, but because it's scent free, and that's really important to me. Like, if not, I'd be getting a headache every day I worked and that wouldn't be a good time. So yeah, definitely, Neuland for the win. I do use a little bit of Posca pens here and there, just for highlighting on things. But it—oh.

MR: Those are paint markers, right? Am I right?

AR: Yeah, they're acrylic paint markers. Unfortunately, they're not refillable. I did get the Neuland acrylics. I don't know if they still sell them. I don't know. I think maybe.

MR: I'm not sure.

AR: But I did have a bunch of those, but I find the Posca pens just a little bit more vibrant. The consistency is really nice and smooth. So I do usually have a few of those on hand. But that makes up the majority. That's analog set for sure. And of course, like I probably own like every Neuland pen they have because of, you know—

MR: They have a pretty wide variety. Yeah.

AR: Yeah. And the bullet tip outliner is my favorite because—

MR: Me too.

AR: — it doesn't matter how you hold it, you can make a mark and it's gonna be a consistent line. I have a lot of the outliner bullet tip.

MR: That's my choice in the small and the large, both sizes and so.

AR: There you go. There you go. Love it. That's awesome. Yeah. And then for digital, I'm actually a Microsoft girl.

MR: Okay.

AR: I feel like I'm in the minority over here.

MR: Yeah, it's definitely a minority. I think, you know, Android users probably feel the same way.

AR: Yeah. So when I was looking for a drawing device, even though I like I said, I do own like every Neuland marker out there, but I also do strive to be a bit of a minimalist. So I was looking for a device that I could do multiple things on. When I found the Microsoft Surface, I was like, it's perfect 'cause it's my computer and it's my drawing tool.

And I've never owned an Apple product in my life. So I don't have anything against Apple. I'm sure they're great. Everyone seems to love them, but in terms of like a learning curve, I was like, I just want something that can be all in one.

MR: Yeah. That's the way you think.

AR: Yeah. Just do the thing and not do with the apps and all the stuff.

MR: That makes sense. I think that makes complete sense to me.

AR: Yeah. So I started, I think—I can't remember when I got my first surface, it was like maybe 2018 or something like that. But I didn't draw on it a whole lot. Like I said, I was practicing a little bit. But I also invested in a Microsoft Studio. So it's what I'm talking to you on right now. And it's basically like drawing on a TV screen. It's very big.

MR: Yes.

AR: Because I was getting—the first year of the pandemic I was doing a lot and just being hovered over a small device was just not a good time. So, you know, I was trying to find something out there. I looked at a couple of different options. But when I found the Microsoft Studio, I was like—or the Surface Studio, I guess it's called. I was like, yeah. It's an investment, but I'm very, very happy that I made it. So yeah, it allows me to draw and be able to move my arm around and do lots of things, and not be crunched over a small device.

MR: Yeah. It probably feels a little bit like more of a one-to-one relationship to the paper and pens that you had been doing, right? So it's sort of the same scale. I mean, it's more that scale, so—

AR: It's more, yeah. It's not as big, but not as small as like a iPad or something, right. So it's probably like four iPad size or something like that. If you were to—

MR: Like a 27 inch monitor or something, or 30 inch?

AR: I can't remember what it is, but it's pretty big. It's pretty big. And my program of choice is Sketchbook Pro. That's the one I started with. It's the one I use to this day. I'm sure there's other out there that are just as great. But what I usually tell people is just pick one and just do it. Just get through the learning curve. If it's Procreate on the iPad or if it's Microsoft, or if you're Microsoft or Android, and it's Sketchbook. I know they do have Sketchbook Pro for iPad as well, but you know, you just kind of have to pick one unfortunately, and just get through all the little funny things about it until it gets a little bit more intuitive.

Because most of my work is live, and that's just kinda how my brain is trained at this point, I don't have time to do all the fancy pens anyway. So I really use one pen, the paintbrush and the eraser, of course. And use a million layers, and that's about it. When I'm doing it live, is very minimal in terms of all these drawing programs, they're amazing and like, so robust, but I really try to encourage people to just, you know, use it minimally. Just do like one or two pens to start and use it in a minimal way. And then you can always just play around and things like that. But yeah, that's my kind of program and setup of choice.

MR: Interesting. Interesting. You're the first to talk about, I guess other than the GraphicWall, which is a product that Neuland makes which is like a roll of paper that you can use. I think maybe a few in the 14 season, someone may have mentioned a Cintiq. Which is more for illustration. I think it was—her name will come to me. She's a Welsh woman who uses this at home. And she has an interesting setup with a PC and a large Cintiq, I believe.

AR: Oh, interesting.

MR: So it's got a stylus. So for those who don't know, before the iPad existed, the Cintiq was like the boss on the block, right. And they made different size. They kept increasing the size. So basically, if I were to describe it, it's like a screen with touch sensitivity. It comes with a dedicated pen, which has a pen tip and an eraser. And basically, what you would do with it, is you'd open up Photoshop and you'd use Photoshop and choose your brushes and stuff and use layers. And so it's like the pre Procreate, I guess, right.

It's very expensive, very clunky. You don't really take it any place. It's stuck to your desk. So, you know, if that's the way you work, that's great. If you work in a studio where everything stays in place, it's great. You know, the beauty of the iPad or the Surface, and smaller surfaces and these other devices is you can pick 'em up and go to the cafe or sit in the back of a room and do the work. And it just freed up, you know, the ability to do more with this processing power and the screen resolution and the pen resolution really is matched where those things were for a couple years, so.

AR: Yeah. I do have a smaller Surface, like the laptop style and, you know, came in really handy when I had to do an event last week and managed to plug me in and project it on a giant screen in the room. So that was pretty cool. And the setup was like less than 30 seconds. Not gonna lie, that was pretty awesome 'cause usually when you're doing on paper, you're like, okay, I gotta get there early. I gotta get all my board set up, gotta get it all ready. I'll just say there's pros and cons to both.

MR: Right. I agree.

AR: There's pros and cons to both, right. So you kind of have to weigh what those pros and cons are, and then pick what's gonna work best for your event or whatever it is that you're doing. But yeah, the portability of an iPad or a Surface or something is really beautiful. And you can just pick up and go and plug in or like you said, go to the coffee shop and do your thing or what have you, but if I'm doing like a long day like virtual event or something, it's very nice to have my big Surface Studio, that's for sure.

MR: Yeah. It's nice to have options in your case, right? You've got the small portable, you've got the larger scale. You can always revert to paper if you know you wanted to do it that way.

AR: Absolutely.

MR: I mean, you've got three options right there.

AR: Yeah. I have a document camera, I use that quite a bit for different things. So if I'm hosting a workshop online or if I'm doing stuff, I usually do it on paper with my document camera so people can see the marks that I'm making. I think that's a little bit more important when you're teaching a workshop, you're doing something like that so people can see those marks, whereas they don't see them on the digital surface.

MR: Yeah, yeah.

AR: So it's nice to be able to have the flexibility of both. And, you know, I didn't just wake up one day with all of these tools. I just accumulated them over time.

MR: Yes. Over time. Yeah.

AR: Right. One year I buy this, the next year I bought that, tight. So, yeah, don't feel like you need to have all of those things either.

MR: That's a great tool set and it's good to have some variety. So if someone's listening in and maybe they think the same way you do this will encourage them to explore different directions. That's good.

AR: Yeah. Definitely.

MR: Well, let's shift into tips now. So every episode we try to have something practical for those who are listening. We collect 'em all at the end of the season and we put 'em in an all the tips episode, of course. What are the three tips, or you can go more than three if you want to, but three tips you might say to someone who—I always frame it like this. Someone's listening, they're individual thinking, but they feel like they're in a bit of a rut or they're on a plateau and they just don't know how to get out of where they're at, and they would use a little encouragement. What would you tell that person?

AR: Right. Yeah. Well, I've been having a lot of conversations lately with—I'm just gonna talk from like a beginner perspective, maybe that isn't—

MR: Okay. Yeah, that's fine.

AR: You know, we'll just talk about that for a second because I've been, of course, like talking to so many people that are like brand new to this, and there seems to be a really big leap between live and not live. So when I teach it, when I talk about it, I always go in with the assumption that they're going to do it live. So I talk about, "Well, you don't have a lot of time, so do this. You don't have a lot of time, so do this." But what I'm finding is that people—that is actually like quite a large ask. Like, learn all these skills, do all the listening thinking, and do it live. Like do it right now.

So I've been really working with people to encourage them to do whatever you need to do. Make notes on sticky notes, do the traditional way you would capture, type them out. Do whatever you need to do to get the information and then you can always create the sketchnote later. It's great, yeah, to do it in the moment, but if that is like too much of an ask and it feels too scary, give yourself permission to capture in a way that you feel comfortable and with the idea that you're going to create a sketchnote of it later.

So maybe the purpose of creating the sketchnote is a little bit different. It's less about the immediate understanding, which is one of the things that I love about sketchnoting and visual thinking in general is that, making it so it's you have that learning in the moment. So you know, you're gonna be doing your learning maybe a little bit later when you're creating your sketchnote. But I've just been having to give people a lot of permission lately, like, "Don't worry about doing it live, do whatever you want, then create it," right?

And then you can focus on the aesthetics or the things, or if you're doing it digitally, you can move things around and you can feel it. You know, 'cause if you create one and you feel good about it, you're gonna do another one. But if you do it live and it's clunky and it's messy and you feel horrible about it, you're not gonna do it again. Or it's gonna be a really difficult to kind of get back to it.

You know, I think we have this idea that it always has to be live. And I think especially when people are new, that is a big ask. And it doesn't always have to be, right. Like, when I got into it, that was my default, and that's just what I do. And now I'm just like so in tuned to it that I feel like I—you know, we forget that that isn't gonna come and there's like a little too scary for some people to just learn all the things now do it live, you know? So I would say that, you know, however you need to create it, do that. Even if it's live, that's okay if it's not live.

One thing that I don't know, maybe is a little controversial, but I'm gonna share this one, something that I've been thinking a lot about lately is what might be considered like cliche drawings. So I gave the example, I've got like a light bulb. And I think because I'm working with beginners so much right now, is that I've really been leaning in on the idea that cliches are okay.

Like, drawing something that might be considered a cliche, I think is awesome. Because I think it's that leap again, right? If you've been in this community for a long time, you're likely challenging yourself, like, "Oh, how could I draw this to explain this concept? Or bring these ideas together into like—" I know he had Dario, he does these like beautiful visual metaphors.

MR: Metaphors, yeah.

AR: Right. Like how we can visualize these concepts. And I think that is beautiful thing. But I think for people that are newer, that's just like too much. They can't even think about that 'cause they don't even know how to draw a light bulb yet. You know what I mean? And, you know, the light bulb icon saved me because like I said, I'm not joking. I drew one on everything I did for years because I felt confident in drawing a light bulb.

There was always an aha moment or something I wanted to stick out on the page, and that's where I would put my little light bulb. So I think like leaning in and those basics or things that might be considered cliches, I think that's okay. I think we can always be challenging ourselves and how we wanna draw things, but leaning in on some of those like rudimentary or basic drawings of how people who've been doing it for a while, I think that's totally fine. Because you have to start somewhere, right?

You can't just like, oh, I'm gonna go from not knowing sketchnoting at all, now I'm gonna create these really complex drawings. There's has to be this ladder or this stepping stone approach. So if you needed permission to draw something that might be considered a cliche, I highly encourage it.

MR: Yeah. Well, Dario always says that, you know, metaphors is the next level. So the audience he's going after are people that feel confident about the cliche stuff, but they wanna rise up to another level. And that's cool, right.

AR: I love that. Yeah.

MR: Maybe for many people, the cliches are just fine for the audience and the work they do, and they never feel the need and not doing it professionally. Like, it's fine.

AR: Absolutely. Yeah. And I think, yeah, it's beautiful to have that opportunity kind of like step up your next—because I'm like, you know, I'm in a space, like I don't wanna keep drawing the same thing over and over again. Like, that's not a good time. I wanna challenge—

MR: For you, it's something, a challenge. Yeah. It's good for—

AR: Something that I wanna do, but yeah, someone who is more new or even just have been doing it for a year or two or, you know, it can be—you know, just remind yourself, don't make this more complicated than you need to, especially when you're doing it live. Like just, you know, building that visual vocabulary over time and starting with something that might be considered a cliche, you know.

And hopefully, you get into that not comparing mode, right. We already talked about it could be a tip of course of really trying not to compare—you know, like when I went to the 2015 Austin, Texas, it was like, I really was on this really funny line of intimidation and inspiration. And when you're in intimidated, can you flip it upside down and turn it into inspiration instead. Just threw another tip in there for you too.

Maybe the last thing I'll just mention, which maybe feels like an off topic from what we've talked about so far, but one thing that I tend to spend a lot of time on is letters. And if you have nice clean letters, your sketchnotes gonna look awesome, no matter if you don't have a lot of drawings on it or a lot of drawing elements like lines and containers and things.

So I spend unfortunate amount of time with people to try to just help them clean up their letters a little bit. Because I always find that people have this really funny relationship to their handwriting. It's like, you love it, you hate it. It's in between. It's a funny thing with people's relationship with their handwriting. So you almost have to get people—you have to get comfortable with like, "This is my handwriting. I don't wanna embrace my own style, but I'm just gonna like, try to clean things up a little bit."

Every time you make a letter, it looks the same every time. Or picking up your pen and doing like, things like that. Because there's so much content that's always captured, if you feel really confident about your letters, then everything else will just go from there. But every time you go to write something down, you're feeling not great about it, then you know, that's like—I guess like I'm just in this head space right now of how do we just encourage people to do more, have a good experience.

And if you have nice clean letters, then I think you'll have a more positive experience with it too. So I think all of my years in early childhood education also primed me for this work too 'cause my letters were pretty decent going into it, so I literally had to practice them and all that good stuff. It maybe a bit of off topic from what we've talked about, but I just wanted to mention it 'cause it's something that seems to be coming up for me a lot lately with people.

MR: Yeah. I think one of the practices I did, I haven't done this for a long time when we did workshops in person, was I had people do sketchnotes with no drawings. All they could do is lettering, and they could make it bigger, they could do all kinds of stuff with it, but it had to be a letter. And then you start to realize like, well actually letters are really drawings at some degree once you get to a certain scale. So you're technically breaking the rule, but you're not breaking the rule, which is fun when people realized it. And maybe that's an exercise I need to reintroduce, I don't know, but.

AR: Yeah. No, it's a good one. I always say like letter or letters are drawings in the skies. Exactly, what you said basically. If you can write letters, you can draw. It is pretty darn foundational sketchnoting getting the information down and finding that speed where you can capture quickly, you know, but it's still fairly legible. It's this kind of song and dance.

I always kind of end up talking about lettering and stuff a lot in the beginning when I'm with people. Which, you know, may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but it's pretty darn important. So I'm like, "Just bear with me. Let's just get through this and develop the skill a little bit before we kind of go into drawing." 'Cause I feel like people, they see it and they go immediately to drawing. They're like, "Oh, I just wanna draw stuff that's exciting."

And in my book, I put little, "draw little icons," I put at the very end of the book. It was very intentional why it's at the end of the book because I didn't wanna start it with it because then you need to get some of that foundational stuff down first before you—'cause if you just learn a bunch of icons and none of the other stuff, you know, like how ideas connect together and all of that, then you know, it's not gonna be as beneficial. And you might burn out quicker because you're putting too much pressure that you have to draw a bunch of stuff. And it's not about that at all.

MR: Yeah. Yeah. That's good. Another good observation. I don't know if it quite qualifies as a tip, but I guess it is.

AR: Sure why not? Lots of tips.

MR: Pile another one on there.

AR: Yeah, that's what I got for you today. That's what I got for you today.

MR: Good. Well, that's great. That's really encouraging. Well, this is the point in the podcast where we ask how people can find you so they can make connections, say hello, check out your book, look at your work. All that kind of stuff. Our community always loves new people. And so, what would be the best place, places for people to find you and to see your work?

I got a few different ways. So my business is Minds Eye Creative, so mindseye,creative.ca 'cause I'm in Canada. All things Minds Eye Creative, that's where you can find me. And some of examples of my work for clients and things like that. And then Sketchnote.School is all things learning how to sketchnote. I've got my newsletter. I sent out a Sketchnote tip every Saturday. And you can learn about my book on there, "The Beginner's Guide to Sketchnoting," and you know, it's on Amazon and all those places too.

MR: Cool.

AR: And information about my community on there at Sketchnotes School as well. And I recently rebranded my YouTube channel. I'm gonna try to redo some YouTube things to Sketchnotes. So doing more under Sketchnotes School these days than Mind's Eye Creative.

MR: Cool. Well, those are good two or three good places. We'll look for you on YouTube. If you wanna send along you know, some links to me, we'll make sure that they get in the show notes. But we all of course, do our research here and try to provide pretty detailed shownotes so people can find things, so

AR: Absolutely. I love that.

MR: That's perfect. Well, thanks so much Ashton, for being on the show. It's been great to talk with you and hear your story and just hear your unique perspective and how you approach things and all the way down to the tools that you use that are a little different. That's really cool. I think it's important that we see variety and that we're not a homogenous thing. We're a variety where it's a community of people and all have different perspectives. And that's great because we need those perspectives to keep growing and improving the work we do. So thanks for being part of that community and the work you do.

AR: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. Had such a good time.

MR: Good. Well, for everyone who's watching or listening, it's another episode of the Sketchnote Army Podcast. Until the next episode, talk to you soon.

  continue reading

163 פרקים

Artwork
iconשתפו
 
Manage episode 390393647 series 2804354
תוכן מסופק על ידי Sketchnote Army Podcast and Mike Rohde. כל תוכן הפודקאסטים כולל פרקים, גרפיקה ותיאורי פודקאסטים מועלים ומסופקים ישירות על ידי Sketchnote Army Podcast and Mike Rohde או שותף פלטפורמת הפודקאסט שלו. אם אתה מאמין שמישהו משתמש ביצירה שלך המוגנת בזכויות יוצרים ללא רשותך, אתה יכול לעקוב אחר התהליך המתואר כאן https://he.player.fm/legal.

In this episode, Ashton Rodenhiser shares her mission to teach sketchnoting skills to students and professionals so they can use doodling and drawing as their best thinking and learning tools.

Sponsored by Concepts

This episode of the Sketchnote Army Podcast is brought to you by Concepts, a perfect tool for sketchnoting, available on iOS, Windows, and Android.

Concepts' vector-based drawing feature gives you the power to adjust your drawings saving hours and hours of rework.

Vectors provide clean, crisp, high-resolution output for your sketchnotes at any size you need s ideal for sketchnoting.

SEARCH in your favorite app store to give it a try.

Running Order

  • Intro
  • Welcome
  • Who is Ashton?
  • Origin Story
  • Ashton’s current work
  • Sponsor: Concepts
  • Tips
  • Tools
  • Where to find Ashton
  • Outro

Links

Amazon affiliate links support the Sketchnote Army Podcast.

Tools

Amazon affiliate links support the Sketchnote Army Podcast.

Tips

  1. However you need to create it, do it.
  2. Cliches are okay.
  3. Don't get into the comparing mode.
  4. When you are intimidated, you can instead flip it and turn it into inspiration.
  5. Have clean nice letters.

Credits

  • Producer: Alec Pulianas
  • Theme music: Jon Schiedermayer
  • Shownotes and transcripts: Esther Odoro

Subscribe to the Sketchnote Army Podcast

You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube or your favorite podcast listening source.

Support the Podcast

To support the creation, production and hosting of the Sketchnote Army Podcast, buy one of Mike Rohde’s bestselling books. Use code ROHDE40 at Peachpit.com for 40% off!

Episode Transcript

Mike Rohde: Hey everyone, it's Mike and I'm here with Ashton. Ashton Rodenhiser, how are you today?

Ashton Rodenhiser: I'm doing so well, Mike. Thanks so much for having me. I'm happy to be here.

MR: It's so great to have you on. We've had fits and starts trying to get this recorded and we finally did it, so I'm excited. And so looking forward to talking with you and sharing your story with everyone. So why don't we just jump right in? Tell us who you are and what you do.

AR: Yeah. So I am based in Canada, on the East Coast of Canada. You know, being a mother is pretty important to me, so I always like to mention that. I have three small children between the ages of 5 and 10. I felt like growing up I really wanted to be an artist, but it was like never an option 'cause there was just so much negative rhetoric in my home, in my community about, you know, the lack of art opportunities out there. I put that in a diplomatic way.

And so, I really struggled even though I did really well in school, I really did not know what I "wanted to be when I grew up." And I fell into a role as a facilitator. I did that for a couple of years, and that's how I learned about graphic facilitation and kind of where I am today. That was 10 years ago, this month, fall of 2013. It's really easy for me to remember because it was the longest I'd left my six-month-old at the time. It was a whole day to take a graphic facilitation course.

I had never even seen it before, but I was like, "This is the best thing ever," where I was able to take my experience as a facilitator and my love for all things creative and mash them together. And then I was facilitating a group at the time and luckily, they were just so great and easygoing. I just threw some paper on the wall and started drawing and I was like, I don't know what I'm doing. It was horrible. But I still have that picture to this day and share it often actually as like, "This was my first one, look how bad it was."

And you know, I put it away for a few months and then I brought it out after a while and I looked at it and I was like, "Whoa, I can remember so much from this." It took it from, oh, this is kind of fun and cool and neat to, whoa, this is an actually a powerful thing. This is a way to help navigate that learning and that experience. So doing it in the moment was fun and great, but it was more so about that like after effect for me when I brought it out later and reflected on it and was like, this is more than what I thought it was, in a way.

Then it was at that point that I was like, I might like this. This seems like actually helpful. So maybe I will do this more 'cause it's a good time and it's actually helpful. So, fast forward a little bit. I did, you know, a little bit for those first few years and I actually attended the IFVP Conference in Austin, Texas in 2015. And I was a scholarship recipient for that. There's no way I would've been able to go if I hadn't received that. So, very grateful to that opportunity to this day.

And I went with a mission in mind. I was like," I'm gonna go and just try to soak up as much as I can. And when I leave, I'm gonna make a decision." Like this is gonna be just like a side hobby that I'll do when people ask me to. Or I'm gonna take this like seriously as a business and I'm gonna try to do it. And obviously, you know, the answer to that question. But yeah, it was a few months after that, after I had my second child that I started building a business around graphic recording, graphic facilitation, live illustration. Yeah.

MR: You know, it's interesting you said that it took you a while putting away the work to see your own value in it later. You looked at it like, "Wow, this is really helpful. I remember a lot of the detail because of the work I did." So I think what you were sort of seeing was, I think was a delayed reaction to what the people in the rooms saw.

AR: Right. Yeah.

MR: 'Cause You know, a lot of times we look back at the work we do and we think, "In light of what I do now, that's so terrible. It was so bad." But then, you know, to the people in the moment who experienced it, for them it was, you know, mind blowing because they'd never seen anything like that. And it was helpful regardless of what it looked like. It brings you back to like, it's a lot more of the action of the doing and a whole lot less on the beauty of it. Functionality of it is way more valuable now. Of course, it's good if you can make it look really beautiful. I mean, that's always nice.

AR: That's a bonus, definitely.

MR: But it reminds you that the bones of this stuff that we do is really about the functionality of the work we're doing. And then if we can layer on beauty and layout and all these things on top of it, that just adds another layer to it and it makes it even more enjoyable for both you and for the recipient. Anyway, that struck me when you brought that out.

'Cause I've been thinking about that too. I've looked at some really old sketchnotes that I did way back in 2007, was like, "Compared to what I do now, these are very rudimentary and basic." But I needed to start somewhere. And even those, the bones of them were valuable regardless of if they were exactly what I would've wanted now. I mean, at the time I was okay with it, obviously. So, interesting.

AR: Yeah, No, I love that. I love that for sure.

MR: Well, I'm curious, you mentioned coming from Eastern Canada and you talked about the scholarship to go to Austin, which I can imagine that trip was not cheap and that scholarship probably helped. So tell us your origin story. How did you—you gave us hints to it, you went to this event and made that decision. Fill us some more detail about, how were you as a little girl that brought you to the point at Austin, right? Like, were you always drawing, like, all that stuff?

Because I too faced a thing where my dad sat me down and said, "Mike, you can't make money in art. You should find another career path." And I went into printing. And through printing, I found that design was actually a path I could take, which was related. So I'd love to hear your little girl to Austin story, and then I'd love to hear more detail about building that business and how did you come to where you're now?

AR: Oh my gosh. Yeah. I guess, I try to do a overview, but yeah, I can dive into it a bit more. I've always been very creative, very self-taught. I've never really taken an art class in my life. I call myself a dabbler. So name a medium, I've probably tried it. Either I tried it for a week or I tried it for a year. I sold painted rocks as a child at craft fairs.

So I guess I didn't realize I was a bit entrepreneurial until I started a business and I'm like, "Oh, yeah, I guess I have done entrepreneurial things throughout my life." And it was funny that I also was connected to something creative. So I've always been really fascinated in different mediums, but I didn't actually spend a whole lot of time drawing. I painted and did things like that, but I didn't actually draw pictures a lot.

I had a few, how to draw cats, how to draw some things, but I didn't have a lot of patience for building the skill of drawing. The art forms that I would find were more instant gratification. I wanted to paint a picture in an hour. I didn't wanna paint a picture over a series of months. So I didn't realize until a few years ago that I think my impatience is actually one of the things that is kind of, I feel like with sketchnoting and live illustration and all that is actually a beautiful fit for me because you have the timeframe and you're like, "All right, it's a half an hour, it's done. Or it's an hour, it's done. Or it's a day, it's done."

I've always been very creative, but just doing my own thing, self-taught, try different things. If anything, I learned many different instruments. Learning how to play the bagpipes right now, just for fun, you know. So I took lessons for things like that. But I think, like I said earlier, I didn't even really consider being an artist because it was just the aura.

No one really sat me down, like, your experience and said, "You can't do that. That's not gonna work out for you." It was just the stories I would hear of people saying, "Oh, that kid, are you going to art school, good luck with that." And I'm like, "Well, I don't want that for me." You know. And at the time, the only thing that I had considered was being a teacher 'cause I'd always really loved kids.

I graduated high school around the recession, 2008 recession. And so it was a hard time to decide what to do after high school because no matter what you did, no one had jobs. Around here anyways, at that time there was a lot of people graduating teacher college and not having work. So I felt like that was going to be a waste of time if I go and spend all this time doing this education and then it doesn't work out.

So I pursued an early childhood education to work with these little kids. And that's when I got a job at a nonprofit. I moved to the city thinking that I might be a sign language interpreter. So I started taking all the prerequisites to do that. And that's what I went to the city for. Ended up there being there for a few years because I loved this job at this nonprofit where I started to learn about community development and facilitation. And that's how I got into that.

But still, I painted and I did a few things, you know, throughout my life, but I definitely had, you know, dips and lulls, you know, when I was on a very strict budget trying to pay back my student loan. I had a craft budget of $20 a week that I would allow myself to go and buy art supplies. And it was like the highlight of my week, and I would just craft all the rest of the week. But yeah, it was just all over the place in terms of just the things that we would do for fun.

That's how I met my husband in high school, I was knitting in the library. And then, I just felt like when I found this work, it was this beautiful coming together of the things that I loved about facilitation and the listening and the thinking 'cause I felt like I always wanted to have a job where I wanted to help people. But when you're younger, the notion of helping people are, you know, you have to be a doctor or something like that. Well, how am I supposed to help people if I don't wanna be a doctor or new nurse or something like that.

And when I found facilitation and in this world with those two coming together, I was like, "Oh my gosh, I could like help people. I could help people learn and engage." And I really fell in love with group process with facilitation, creating a safe space and allowing them to feel heard. And it's not about me imposing my ideas or my knowledge, it's really about them.

And I was like, this is the best 'cause You don't need to know anything. You know, I joke about that with teachers. But it's this beautiful space to be able to create for people. And then when I started experiencing doing it in the graphical way, I was like, this is really, really cool and I wanna do more of it. Yeah.

MR: It sort of added that craft or that creative layer that had been missing, it seems like to me.

AR: Yeah, definitely.

MR: So you had all the facilitation skills and what this added was the creative part of you then could be turned on and be active too, right? And just not all business.

AR: Yeah. And I think that's why—I don't know if I didn't have the experience as the facilitation person first, I don't know what the transition would've been like. I feel like because I had my listening and my thinking skills honed over a few years, the adding the visual element wasn't as scary, I think as it might be for others who are like, "Now I have to, you know, listen and think and draw. So I have to like, develop all these skills."

Whereas like, I had the listening and the thinking skills, I had been developing that already, adding in the drawing, like, so then I was able to focus more those early years on the drawing part because I was the listening and thinking was a bit more intuitive. You know, 'cause the way I would describe to people is, as a facilitator, you're listening and thinking, and you're feeding back in words.

And now I can listen and think and feedback in pictures, right? So, I don't think it was as big of a jump coming from that space because I'm like, "I can learn the drawing skills. I can learn over time." I didn't really put a whole lot of pressure on myself in the beginning. I just learned some basic drawings. I joke with people that I basically drew a light bulb on every single graphic I did for three years because I'm like, "I know how to draw a light bulb." You know what I mean?

I think I just allowed myself to know that I would develop those skills over time if I just kept at it and that the listening and the thinking would really pull me through. Because even if it's mostly words and little drawings there, those few years, the content is always gonna be so important, especially when you're in a room with people and allowing them to feel valued and heard. If you throw a few graphics in there, you know, pretty basic when you're starting, it doesn't really matter, right?

And sometimes when I'm teaching and talking with people about it, I'm like, you know, "That will come over time. Just be patient with yourself." And, you know, a lot of times people—this is still really new and they don't have anything to compare it to, which is amazing. So if you just throw some paper on a wall and do it, it's gonna be amazing no matter what. You know what I mean?

MR: Right.

AR: It just is opening that door and like, they don't know that other people exist in the world who have been doing it longer and maybe it looks like, "prettier." Like, it doesn't matter. And sometimes it's needs to be messy. 'Cause I tell people like, conversations are messy, so sometimes the graphic's gonna be messy. And that's just what it is, you know?

MR: Yeah. Comes back to our earlier discussion about what's the most important it's the bones of the value of being in the room together, being heard, capturing something.

AR: Exactly. Yeah.

MR: It's a good enough graphic. You know, in my experience as designer, especially when I do concept work with people, 'cause that's really what I do, whether it's illustration, I used to do logo and icon design, the rougher the sketches the better because then they feel like they have a say in it, they have a part in it, they can see, you know, there's room to maneuver a little bit.

So in some ways, the messier sketches are actually more attractive, weirdly enough, in a process environment, because the focus is on the process. And then eventually, as long as you're in a boat—you know, if you're in a sailboat, which I've been on, you know, you're not going in a straight line. You're catching the wind one way, and you're tacking back and forth, but you're going toward a final destination, right. You're not just going in a straight line like you can in a motorboat. Even in a motorboat, honestly, they're floating around a little bit too, right.

So if you think about that as a metaphor, it's being by water, right? So it's like, but ultimately you're gonna get to Nova Scotia, right? You're gonna come in to that point, it's just like the way you get there is gonna maybe be messy for a while. So if you think of it that way, you know, you're moving towards a destination and you know, it's gonna have its ups and downs, but everybody knows that we're gonna end up in the right place. That that's a great feeling.

AR: Yeah. I love that. That's a great analogy. I'm gonna use that.

MR: You steal it if you want to.

AR: Yes, I will. Thank you.

MR: Well, that's really cool. So tell us a little bit about the kind of work you're doing now. What is your ideal clients and is there someone you can share, you know, that you don't have any kind of agreements with that you're, that you can talk about? And then also, you have a book you've released. I want you to talk about that book, most definitely. So let's go in that order. Tell us a little bit about the work you do and then let's talk about your book.

AR: I usually spend my time doing graphic recording, graphic facilitation. The way that I like to define it is graphic recordings, more like the conference world. There's speakers. I do a lot of that. Like, that's probably the majority, right. And then there's the graphic facilitation world, which is what we talked a lot about so far, is finding myself in those situations where there's groups of people and you're helping them come to some decision or, you know, there's multiple voices.

So usually let's say like one voice or multiple voices. A room full of people having a conversation or a speaker on a stage. So lots of graphic recording, some graphic facilitation, would love to do more of it, but some of that. And I started teaching in person workshops, I think back in 2018, 2000 and something like that. Like pretty early on. And did some in-person things, and just did another one last week. But I hadn't done one in three years because you know, the world.

MR: Yeah. Yeah.

AR: And so, it was so exciting to get back in person because there's nothing better than, you know, helping people stand at a wall for the first time and make those marks. So, some of that. And then, yeah, released my "Beginner's Guide to Sketchnoting" book here just a few months ago. Because I was finding that a lot of people were saying to me all the time, "I would love to learn this skill. I wish you could follow me around, we record every meeting that I go to."

And I would say to people, you know, "It's like, not that hard. You could totally learn it." And they just brush you off. They're like, "No, no way. I could possibly." And I'm like, "But you could though, but you could." And so, I started this sort of journey process of putting this book together, which took about a year and a half and did beta reading and getting feedback from people. 'Cause with the idea of trying to make the concept of learning sketchnoting as accessible as possible. Really handholding people through that process.

We can talk a little more about that if you want to, but that's generally it. And so yeah, I have a little sketchnoting community and the book and stuff. So I'm just in this space now of really trying to just talk about, you know, helping people move through learning this.

And one area that I'm specifically focusing, and I'm trying to do some case studies this year, is like, with students in school and trying to get into some schools and do some case studies. And with a little bit of trouble, but I'm getting there. I'm getting there trying to build relationships and do the things there, because I think if we can—like my 10-year-old, I've been teaching her some things because I know that in her school, that's when they start teaching note taking.

So I don't know what it is like for other places in the world, but grade 5, age 10 is where they start to introduce note taking. So I was like, "Okay, well if this is when they're starting to introduce it, then maybe that's the age demographic or group that I need to be talking about."

Because I do have schools that have brought me in to teach like older grades, but I feel like if we could do it earlier as the foundation and then they can choose, they have multiple ways that they can do their note taking and do it right in the beginning instead of, you know, they started to have develop a way that they do it, and then a few years later you introduce this, then it might not come as naturally. So I'm trying to find that sweet spot right now and work with schools to see what that looks like trying to get that into part of their learning for note taking. Yeah.

MR: Well, I would guess having a book that's published certainly helps with getting in. That's helped me for sure. Who would you say is the main ideal reader for the book? Do you have in mind a group of people that the book is aimed to? Or is it more of a broad, anybody can read this book kind of thing?

AR: Yeah. It's definitely a broad, but more of someone who might have considered themselves creative at one point, maybe have a weird relationship with creativity, because I find I'm having more conversations about that these days where people are like, "Well, I'm not creative." I'm like, "But you are though. But you are. Maybe you don't draw and that's okay. But maybe you're really funny or maybe—"

MR: Some other space. Yeah.

AR: Yeah. Maybe you're a good storyteller, you know. So, I find it's more of the people that want to reengage with their creativity. And I feel like that's just, like I said, a lot of the conversation I'm having with people a lot lately, but they have this weird relationship maybe with drawing. Maybe they doodled a little bit, maybe they didn't, but they know that the way that they kind of learn traditional note taking just doesn't work for them. And they're trying to see what they can do to get back to adding a little bit more creativity into their learning space, right. And having to do that.

MR: How can they make it enjoyable?

AR: Exactly. So I find that that's the—you know, that plus trying to encourage students and kids to do as well. But in terms of my more adult audience, it seems to be—you know, so some of it's like, you know, English as a second language teachers that are trying to be able to explain concepts. And I work a lot in technology, so I end up having a lot of people in cybersecurity and things like that in my community, and they're trying to figure out how to be able to explain more technical concepts and things like that.

MR: That's pretty cool.

AR it is quite broad, but it's like, you know, the leap that people think is really scary and trying to make that not as scary 'cause just getting people to share their first one. Just do one, just do one sketchnote and share it, that seems to be the biggest leap for people. 'Cause once you do that first one, you're like, "Oh, that wasn't so scary." You know what I mean?

MR: Yeah.

AR: So it's more about like that type of person who's like, "Oh, I'd like to try this." And in my book, I don't talk about any theory, I just drop a little brain guy throughout it. Like, "Oh yeah, did you know this thing, and there's this research?" 'Cause I want it just to get right to it and get people to put pen to paper quickly as possible. Because that's one thing that really frustrates me about nonfiction books is that most of them, unfortunately, are idea books.

And I didn't want it to be a book like, "Sketchnoting is good, see you later." You know, be like, "Draw this thing, do this exercise." You know. And it's big and short enough that it is hopefully not overwhelming for people, you know? Like, it was twice as long and I just cut it and cut it and cut it. And then anything that I felt was a little bit advanced, I was just cut. I just like, nope. Or when I was doing my beta reading and people were getting confused, I was like, "Okay. Too advanced, cut it, cut it."

MR: Well, you know, save those things for your second book, I guess for the advanced students who move in part two, right. You can put those in a second edition. Or not a second edition, but another book for those who wanna proceed to level two.

AR: Yeah. Yeah. So I really wrote it in the sense of trying to handhold people through the process and to cut down that learning curve as much as I possibly can, because I feel like I was just encountering so many people that were like, "Oh, I could never do that." And I'm like, "But you could. You definitely could." And trying to show people in a really low barrier to entry, non-threatening way that that it's possible, right?

So, the first thing that I walk in through in the book is like, "Just draw a line. You did it." The book's very cheer leadery. I'm like, "You got this." You know. 'Cause I think what happens is people look at beautiful sketchnotes by yourself or me, and they're like, "Oh, I can never do that." You know, I'm like, "But you can't compare your beginning to my 10 plus years in, right?

MR: Right. I tell people that too.

AR: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. I love it when people can see the—like, "This was my first one. This was my first one." And they can compare from that space rather than, "Oh, well, if they look at Ashton's, oh my God, I could never create that." And I'm like, you know, I try to tell people, I'm like, "But I've been doing this for so long. And I do so many." I think I recorded over 600 presentations just last year. So like, that's a lot.

MR: It's a lot of practice.

AR: That's a lot.

MR: Lots, yeah.

AR: That's a lot, you know. If you did 600 in a year, you'd be pretty good too. Like, maybe even better than mine. You know what I mean?

MR: Right. There might be something in you that we don't even know about because you haven't explored it. Right. But it's never fair to compare your first shot to my finished product after years and years of practice. It's not a fair comparison and it shouldn't be.

AR: Yeah. I wish I would've read this before I published my book, or I would've put it in it, but there's a book called "Find Your Artistic Voice by Lisa Congdon. And in it, she talks about the beginner's gap. And when I read it, I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is like exactly what I've been thinking about this whole time." But she put it in these concise, beautiful words, but there's where you wanna be, right? "I want my stuff to look like Ashton's or Mike's or whoever," right?

But then there's your skillset, and your skillset doesn't match where you wanna be. So there's this huge gap in between. So what happens is that, because they're like, "I want my skills to match this." But they don't, they don't close the gap. They don't do the practice and the work to get to the point where their skills are developed that it could look, you know, in their own style or in their own whatever, right.

That's where see and I get saddened by when people are at that stage in the very beginning, but they see where they wanna go, and they just stop before they even start trying. You know. They're like, "I can't, I'm never gonna be like that. I want my—" Or they'll try it and they'll be so unhappy with it because it doesn't match their expectation of reality in their mind, right. Like, "Oh, I want it to look like this and it didn't, so I give up." Right.

So, my part with trying to put this book together is like, how can I help close that gap just even a little bit and allow people to get a little bit of success so that they feel like then they can continue to develop their skills? 'Cause people ask me all the time, like, "How did you get to the point you are? And I'm like, "Just practice." Like, it's not a sexy answer, unfortunately.

MR: Yeah. Just kept going. Yeah.

AR: But I just did it and did it, and they were bad and they were messy and they were not beautiful. You know what I mean? But even though when I go back and I look at my earlier stuff and how messy, and they looked like they still served a purpose for the people or for myself. So it didn't really matter. Like we were talking about like, you know, sometimes the messier the better too, right?

MR: Mm-hmm.

AR: But I do teach aesthetics because people care about that. Because if I just said, "It doesn't matter what it looks." No one would do it. They'd be like, well, if it s mess—like I want it to look nice. So I definitely do teach that. But with trying to infuse "it doesn't matter" at the same time. It's okay if it's messy. Yeah.

MR: Sort of like, it's good enough for where you are now, and let's keep going. So it's like you have that far away goal of it needs to look like that thing, but I know that's gonna be difficult, but what I did today is good enough for a first step and for today and tomorrow I'll get a little tiny bit better, and the next day I'll get a little tiny bit better and then I'll backtrack and then I'll get back and get back to normal and, you know. Sort of like, no, if you let people know that it's gonna be a journey.

It's like setting expectations so there's not an expectation like, "Well, I'll do this for an hour and I'll be as good as someone who, you know, done 600 pieces in a year." That's not a fair comparison. So again, it's almost like resetting perspective around what's a reasonable expectation for you.

AR: Absolutely.

MR: That's what we're doing in a lot of ways, which is, I think it's good. That's good. Because there's a lot of places where that mindset is helpful, not just in the work we do. So, it's really cool.

AR: Yeah. I'm nervous to say this to you, Mike, but I will say I almost feel like my book might be a precursor to your book. There's a few things in there that are similar, but I don't know if you feel the same way, but feel it's a bit of the—

MR: Well, I'm a big believer in lots of books existing because I think there's a lot of voices that exist and not everybody is in the right place to hear just one book. And a lot of times a different person at a different time and a different way is the right solution for that person. So I'm a big believer in, hey there's a lot of people that don't do anything yet. We need a lot of books that reach in every direction.

So that very may well be that someone would maybe process through your book and then "I wanna go to the next level, or I wanna just see a different voice. Oh, I like how Mike does it. For me, that fits for me. I'm gonna follow that path." Or, "I'm gonna choose this other book because that makes sense to me." And I think that's good to have options 'cause Not everybody is the same. And to expect them to be all the same and just use one resource is not realistic, right?

AR: And I want the listeners to know how great you are. So I'm gonna just talk about you for a second. I was very nervous to put this book out, and I felt like I needed your thumbs up of approval because you're the dude that coined the term sketchnoting. And when I was writing this book, I was really worried because I'm like, "I didn't create this word. You know, I try to make that very clear every time I talk to anybody, I'm always like, "Mike Rohde, Mike Rohde, Mike Rohde," always talking about you all the time.

Because it can be very scary to put out work like this and you don't know how it's gonna be received. And when I got on that call with you earlier this year, you were like, "The more the merrier." And I'm like, oh, that makes me feel so good because it does feel like we—you know, the visual thinking community is like, we're worldwide, but tight-knit, you know? And I've experienced that and it's the best community ever.

And I think because we are so caring for each other is like, we wanna make sure we're doing things in like the most respectful way possible. And you know, I felt so—I was just like, I'm on cloud nine after I got off that call with you because you were like, "The more the merrier. I love it." You know, and exactly kind of the things you just said too. And I think that's like, having that sort of abundance mindset is just like such a beautiful thing and such a asset to this community.

So I really appreciated your kindness because it definitely feels like you know, from the outside, it's like—it's a funny thing when you're putting something like this together. I'm like, "No, it's not the Sketchnote Handbook, but it's like, you know, I'm just trying to do my thing and just share what I've learned over all these years too." And yeah, it can be a funny thing. So just shout out how great you are. I really appreciated that.

MR: I'm glad that I made your day that day and it is what I believe. And I think it's really important that we—I just always come back to there's so many opportunities. When you fight over one opportunity, it's like there's so many opportunities to do the work to encourage people. There's a whole population of people that don't do this. We've only scratched the surface and reached a tiny little fraction even now after 10, 15 years, right?

AR: Oh my gosh.

MR: And then there's more people getting born every day that don't know about this stuff. Though it is, you know, having an impact in schools. The funny story I could tell here, I don't if I've told this on the podcast before, is I have a 14-year-old daughter in middle school. Last year when she was 13, she came home and said, "Hey dad, they're teaching Sketchnoting in my class. And I told the teacher that she wrote the book on sketchnoting and she didn't believe me."

And then I told her that she should go to the library because she knew that I'd sent books there. And the teacher came back and said, "You're right. He did write the book." And she was all real proud that I had a book in this school.

AR: That is amazing. Oh, that's the best. That's awesome.

MR: So they do get exposed to it, at least in our school. I mean, it's very spotty, all over the country. But I do know school teachers especially get really excited because , you know, when you think about what you're doing with this visual note-taking with sketchnoting is that you're encouraging kids who would normally doodle anyway in a lot of cases.

AR: Exactly.

MR: To do something productive with it, to use it as a way to focus your attention and to capture ideas. So that's a win. And you know, as you do it, you realize your students actually absorb and understand better and can remember more. So for a teacher, this is like the magic thing, right? How could you not wanna to do that for your students, right?

AR: I know, right? How is everybody not doing this, Mike? Right?

MR: Yeah. Yeah. So teachers are huge fans and I'm a huge backer of teachers. I haven't done a lot of work with school districts. Through the pandemic, I worked with on school district, but I know that they're out there and I'm excited when I do hear from them. And sometimes I get opportunities to come and speak to their schools. And that's really fun for me because then it brings it full circle to see, okay, it's having an impact on teachers which are having an impact on students and they're getting this option, right.

And it's not for everybody. There's some students that doesn't fit with, I understand that. But the ones who do, that could be just a way. I get messages all the time, "Hey, I was a student in university, and using sketchnoting help me survive in my studies." Well, that's what it's all about, so.

AR: Yeah. And I think, you know, just overarching, there is so much room in this community, the sketchnoting the graphic recording, the live illustrate , whatever it is, however you want to kind of follow that path, I think there's so much room, and I think you're right in terms of scratching the surface. If this is something that you wanna do or get into.

Like even at my workshop, my live in person workshop I did last or I guess week in a bit ago now, you know, there was a woman there and she was like, "Is there room for me?" And I'm like, "Oh my gosh, there is room for you." Like the way that I see it is when people experience the value of it, they want more of it. And then eventually, there's not gonna be enough people who do it professionally.

There's just more to go around and the more people experience the power of it, the more it's gonna be required and desired in meeting places and at events and things like that. So I think there is a lot of room for new and upcoming people in this space too, no matter how—there could be hundreds of people out there just doing sketchnoting in classrooms. We need that, we need people who are advocating for it in there you know, so that it—it's just like you said, it's not gonna be for everybody and that's okay, but just like as an option, right. And we know how valuable it is. So, you know, there is so much room in the community for sure.

MR: Yeah. I think that's true. Well, this feels like a really good natural point then to shift to what are the tools that you like to use? Let's start with analog first and go to digital. You probably use both, I suspect. I'd just love to hear.

AR: I definitely have a pre and post-COVID world story when it comes to—

MR: Yeah. Let's tie that in there.

AR: Yeah. Well, so pre-COVID, I was 100 percent paper, markers. And then I had started practicing some digital, 'cause I thought at some point someone might ask me, "Hey, do you do digital? "And I'd be primed and ready to go. And then of course, COVID is like, "You are forced to do digital, Miss." Which for me actually was a blessing in disguise because I was traveling so much, having little kids. It was getting a lot.

MR: That's tough.

AR: So COVID in a sense was a beautiful blessing in disguise 'cause I've still been able to retain some of those clients, and they're doing it in person, but I'm just zoomed in and they're just showing my screen, and it's a beautiful thing. So, of course Neuland, everyone talks about Neuland. The best. What do you say? You know, they're number one. Even for those first one or two years, I just used sketcher markers. That was a beautiful stepping stone.

I am scent sensitive, so I think Neuland was a beautiful choice. Not just because the quality is there, but because it's scent free, and that's really important to me. Like, if not, I'd be getting a headache every day I worked and that wouldn't be a good time. So yeah, definitely, Neuland for the win. I do use a little bit of Posca pens here and there, just for highlighting on things. But it—oh.

MR: Those are paint markers, right? Am I right?

AR: Yeah, they're acrylic paint markers. Unfortunately, they're not refillable. I did get the Neuland acrylics. I don't know if they still sell them. I don't know. I think maybe.

MR: I'm not sure.

AR: But I did have a bunch of those, but I find the Posca pens just a little bit more vibrant. The consistency is really nice and smooth. So I do usually have a few of those on hand. But that makes up the majority. That's analog set for sure. And of course, like I probably own like every Neuland pen they have because of, you know—

MR: They have a pretty wide variety. Yeah.

AR: Yeah. And the bullet tip outliner is my favorite because—

MR: Me too.

AR: — it doesn't matter how you hold it, you can make a mark and it's gonna be a consistent line. I have a lot of the outliner bullet tip.

MR: That's my choice in the small and the large, both sizes and so.

AR: There you go. There you go. Love it. That's awesome. Yeah. And then for digital, I'm actually a Microsoft girl.

MR: Okay.

AR: I feel like I'm in the minority over here.

MR: Yeah, it's definitely a minority. I think, you know, Android users probably feel the same way.

AR: Yeah. So when I was looking for a drawing device, even though I like I said, I do own like every Neuland marker out there, but I also do strive to be a bit of a minimalist. So I was looking for a device that I could do multiple things on. When I found the Microsoft Surface, I was like, it's perfect 'cause it's my computer and it's my drawing tool.

And I've never owned an Apple product in my life. So I don't have anything against Apple. I'm sure they're great. Everyone seems to love them, but in terms of like a learning curve, I was like, I just want something that can be all in one.

MR: Yeah. That's the way you think.

AR: Yeah. Just do the thing and not do with the apps and all the stuff.

MR: That makes sense. I think that makes complete sense to me.

AR: Yeah. So I started, I think—I can't remember when I got my first surface, it was like maybe 2018 or something like that. But I didn't draw on it a whole lot. Like I said, I was practicing a little bit. But I also invested in a Microsoft Studio. So it's what I'm talking to you on right now. And it's basically like drawing on a TV screen. It's very big.

MR: Yes.

AR: Because I was getting—the first year of the pandemic I was doing a lot and just being hovered over a small device was just not a good time. So, you know, I was trying to find something out there. I looked at a couple of different options. But when I found the Microsoft Studio, I was like—or the Surface Studio, I guess it's called. I was like, yeah. It's an investment, but I'm very, very happy that I made it. So yeah, it allows me to draw and be able to move my arm around and do lots of things, and not be crunched over a small device.

MR: Yeah. It probably feels a little bit like more of a one-to-one relationship to the paper and pens that you had been doing, right? So it's sort of the same scale. I mean, it's more that scale, so—

AR: It's more, yeah. It's not as big, but not as small as like a iPad or something, right. So it's probably like four iPad size or something like that. If you were to—

MR: Like a 27 inch monitor or something, or 30 inch?

AR: I can't remember what it is, but it's pretty big. It's pretty big. And my program of choice is Sketchbook Pro. That's the one I started with. It's the one I use to this day. I'm sure there's other out there that are just as great. But what I usually tell people is just pick one and just do it. Just get through the learning curve. If it's Procreate on the iPad or if it's Microsoft, or if you're Microsoft or Android, and it's Sketchbook. I know they do have Sketchbook Pro for iPad as well, but you know, you just kind of have to pick one unfortunately, and just get through all the little funny things about it until it gets a little bit more intuitive.

Because most of my work is live, and that's just kinda how my brain is trained at this point, I don't have time to do all the fancy pens anyway. So I really use one pen, the paintbrush and the eraser, of course. And use a million layers, and that's about it. When I'm doing it live, is very minimal in terms of all these drawing programs, they're amazing and like, so robust, but I really try to encourage people to just, you know, use it minimally. Just do like one or two pens to start and use it in a minimal way. And then you can always just play around and things like that. But yeah, that's my kind of program and setup of choice.

MR: Interesting. Interesting. You're the first to talk about, I guess other than the GraphicWall, which is a product that Neuland makes which is like a roll of paper that you can use. I think maybe a few in the 14 season, someone may have mentioned a Cintiq. Which is more for illustration. I think it was—her name will come to me. She's a Welsh woman who uses this at home. And she has an interesting setup with a PC and a large Cintiq, I believe.

AR: Oh, interesting.

MR: So it's got a stylus. So for those who don't know, before the iPad existed, the Cintiq was like the boss on the block, right. And they made different size. They kept increasing the size. So basically, if I were to describe it, it's like a screen with touch sensitivity. It comes with a dedicated pen, which has a pen tip and an eraser. And basically, what you would do with it, is you'd open up Photoshop and you'd use Photoshop and choose your brushes and stuff and use layers. And so it's like the pre Procreate, I guess, right.

It's very expensive, very clunky. You don't really take it any place. It's stuck to your desk. So, you know, if that's the way you work, that's great. If you work in a studio where everything stays in place, it's great. You know, the beauty of the iPad or the Surface, and smaller surfaces and these other devices is you can pick 'em up and go to the cafe or sit in the back of a room and do the work. And it just freed up, you know, the ability to do more with this processing power and the screen resolution and the pen resolution really is matched where those things were for a couple years, so.

AR: Yeah. I do have a smaller Surface, like the laptop style and, you know, came in really handy when I had to do an event last week and managed to plug me in and project it on a giant screen in the room. So that was pretty cool. And the setup was like less than 30 seconds. Not gonna lie, that was pretty awesome 'cause usually when you're doing on paper, you're like, okay, I gotta get there early. I gotta get all my board set up, gotta get it all ready. I'll just say there's pros and cons to both.

MR: Right. I agree.

AR: There's pros and cons to both, right. So you kind of have to weigh what those pros and cons are, and then pick what's gonna work best for your event or whatever it is that you're doing. But yeah, the portability of an iPad or a Surface or something is really beautiful. And you can just pick up and go and plug in or like you said, go to the coffee shop and do your thing or what have you, but if I'm doing like a long day like virtual event or something, it's very nice to have my big Surface Studio, that's for sure.

MR: Yeah. It's nice to have options in your case, right? You've got the small portable, you've got the larger scale. You can always revert to paper if you know you wanted to do it that way.

AR: Absolutely.

MR: I mean, you've got three options right there.

AR: Yeah. I have a document camera, I use that quite a bit for different things. So if I'm hosting a workshop online or if I'm doing stuff, I usually do it on paper with my document camera so people can see the marks that I'm making. I think that's a little bit more important when you're teaching a workshop, you're doing something like that so people can see those marks, whereas they don't see them on the digital surface.

MR: Yeah, yeah.

AR: So it's nice to be able to have the flexibility of both. And, you know, I didn't just wake up one day with all of these tools. I just accumulated them over time.

MR: Yes. Over time. Yeah.

AR: Right. One year I buy this, the next year I bought that, tight. So, yeah, don't feel like you need to have all of those things either.

MR: That's a great tool set and it's good to have some variety. So if someone's listening in and maybe they think the same way you do this will encourage them to explore different directions. That's good.

AR: Yeah. Definitely.

MR: Well, let's shift into tips now. So every episode we try to have something practical for those who are listening. We collect 'em all at the end of the season and we put 'em in an all the tips episode, of course. What are the three tips, or you can go more than three if you want to, but three tips you might say to someone who—I always frame it like this. Someone's listening, they're individual thinking, but they feel like they're in a bit of a rut or they're on a plateau and they just don't know how to get out of where they're at, and they would use a little encouragement. What would you tell that person?

AR: Right. Yeah. Well, I've been having a lot of conversations lately with—I'm just gonna talk from like a beginner perspective, maybe that isn't—

MR: Okay. Yeah, that's fine.

AR: You know, we'll just talk about that for a second because I've been, of course, like talking to so many people that are like brand new to this, and there seems to be a really big leap between live and not live. So when I teach it, when I talk about it, I always go in with the assumption that they're going to do it live. So I talk about, "Well, you don't have a lot of time, so do this. You don't have a lot of time, so do this." But what I'm finding is that people—that is actually like quite a large ask. Like, learn all these skills, do all the listening thinking, and do it live. Like do it right now.

So I've been really working with people to encourage them to do whatever you need to do. Make notes on sticky notes, do the traditional way you would capture, type them out. Do whatever you need to do to get the information and then you can always create the sketchnote later. It's great, yeah, to do it in the moment, but if that is like too much of an ask and it feels too scary, give yourself permission to capture in a way that you feel comfortable and with the idea that you're going to create a sketchnote of it later.

So maybe the purpose of creating the sketchnote is a little bit different. It's less about the immediate understanding, which is one of the things that I love about sketchnoting and visual thinking in general is that, making it so it's you have that learning in the moment. So you know, you're gonna be doing your learning maybe a little bit later when you're creating your sketchnote. But I've just been having to give people a lot of permission lately, like, "Don't worry about doing it live, do whatever you want, then create it," right?

And then you can focus on the aesthetics or the things, or if you're doing it digitally, you can move things around and you can feel it. You know, 'cause if you create one and you feel good about it, you're gonna do another one. But if you do it live and it's clunky and it's messy and you feel horrible about it, you're not gonna do it again. Or it's gonna be a really difficult to kind of get back to it.

You know, I think we have this idea that it always has to be live. And I think especially when people are new, that is a big ask. And it doesn't always have to be, right. Like, when I got into it, that was my default, and that's just what I do. And now I'm just like so in tuned to it that I feel like I—you know, we forget that that isn't gonna come and there's like a little too scary for some people to just learn all the things now do it live, you know? So I would say that, you know, however you need to create it, do that. Even if it's live, that's okay if it's not live.

One thing that I don't know, maybe is a little controversial, but I'm gonna share this one, something that I've been thinking a lot about lately is what might be considered like cliche drawings. So I gave the example, I've got like a light bulb. And I think because I'm working with beginners so much right now, is that I've really been leaning in on the idea that cliches are okay.

Like, drawing something that might be considered a cliche, I think is awesome. Because I think it's that leap again, right? If you've been in this community for a long time, you're likely challenging yourself, like, "Oh, how could I draw this to explain this concept? Or bring these ideas together into like—" I know he had Dario, he does these like beautiful visual metaphors.

MR: Metaphors, yeah.

AR: Right. Like how we can visualize these concepts. And I think that is beautiful thing. But I think for people that are newer, that's just like too much. They can't even think about that 'cause they don't even know how to draw a light bulb yet. You know what I mean? And, you know, the light bulb icon saved me because like I said, I'm not joking. I drew one on everything I did for years because I felt confident in drawing a light bulb.

There was always an aha moment or something I wanted to stick out on the page, and that's where I would put my little light bulb. So I think like leaning in and those basics or things that might be considered cliches, I think that's okay. I think we can always be challenging ourselves and how we wanna draw things, but leaning in on some of those like rudimentary or basic drawings of how people who've been doing it for a while, I think that's totally fine. Because you have to start somewhere, right?

You can't just like, oh, I'm gonna go from not knowing sketchnoting at all, now I'm gonna create these really complex drawings. There's has to be this ladder or this stepping stone approach. So if you needed permission to draw something that might be considered a cliche, I highly encourage it.

MR: Yeah. Well, Dario always says that, you know, metaphors is the next level. So the audience he's going after are people that feel confident about the cliche stuff, but they wanna rise up to another level. And that's cool, right.

AR: I love that. Yeah.

MR: Maybe for many people, the cliches are just fine for the audience and the work they do, and they never feel the need and not doing it professionally. Like, it's fine.

AR: Absolutely. Yeah. And I think, yeah, it's beautiful to have that opportunity kind of like step up your next—because I'm like, you know, I'm in a space, like I don't wanna keep drawing the same thing over and over again. Like, that's not a good time. I wanna challenge—

MR: For you, it's something, a challenge. Yeah. It's good for—

AR: Something that I wanna do, but yeah, someone who is more new or even just have been doing it for a year or two or, you know, it can be—you know, just remind yourself, don't make this more complicated than you need to, especially when you're doing it live. Like just, you know, building that visual vocabulary over time and starting with something that might be considered a cliche, you know.

And hopefully, you get into that not comparing mode, right. We already talked about it could be a tip of course of really trying not to compare—you know, like when I went to the 2015 Austin, Texas, it was like, I really was on this really funny line of intimidation and inspiration. And when you're in intimidated, can you flip it upside down and turn it into inspiration instead. Just threw another tip in there for you too.

Maybe the last thing I'll just mention, which maybe feels like an off topic from what we've talked about so far, but one thing that I tend to spend a lot of time on is letters. And if you have nice clean letters, your sketchnotes gonna look awesome, no matter if you don't have a lot of drawings on it or a lot of drawing elements like lines and containers and things.

So I spend unfortunate amount of time with people to try to just help them clean up their letters a little bit. Because I always find that people have this really funny relationship to their handwriting. It's like, you love it, you hate it. It's in between. It's a funny thing with people's relationship with their handwriting. So you almost have to get people—you have to get comfortable with like, "This is my handwriting. I don't wanna embrace my own style, but I'm just gonna like, try to clean things up a little bit."

Every time you make a letter, it looks the same every time. Or picking up your pen and doing like, things like that. Because there's so much content that's always captured, if you feel really confident about your letters, then everything else will just go from there. But every time you go to write something down, you're feeling not great about it, then you know, that's like—I guess like I'm just in this head space right now of how do we just encourage people to do more, have a good experience.

And if you have nice clean letters, then I think you'll have a more positive experience with it too. So I think all of my years in early childhood education also primed me for this work too 'cause my letters were pretty decent going into it, so I literally had to practice them and all that good stuff. It maybe a bit of off topic from what we've talked about, but I just wanted to mention it 'cause it's something that seems to be coming up for me a lot lately with people.

MR: Yeah. I think one of the practices I did, I haven't done this for a long time when we did workshops in person, was I had people do sketchnotes with no drawings. All they could do is lettering, and they could make it bigger, they could do all kinds of stuff with it, but it had to be a letter. And then you start to realize like, well actually letters are really drawings at some degree once you get to a certain scale. So you're technically breaking the rule, but you're not breaking the rule, which is fun when people realized it. And maybe that's an exercise I need to reintroduce, I don't know, but.

AR: Yeah. No, it's a good one. I always say like letter or letters are drawings in the skies. Exactly, what you said basically. If you can write letters, you can draw. It is pretty darn foundational sketchnoting getting the information down and finding that speed where you can capture quickly, you know, but it's still fairly legible. It's this kind of song and dance.

I always kind of end up talking about lettering and stuff a lot in the beginning when I'm with people. Which, you know, may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but it's pretty darn important. So I'm like, "Just bear with me. Let's just get through this and develop the skill a little bit before we kind of go into drawing." 'Cause I feel like people, they see it and they go immediately to drawing. They're like, "Oh, I just wanna draw stuff that's exciting."

And in my book, I put little, "draw little icons," I put at the very end of the book. It was very intentional why it's at the end of the book because I didn't wanna start it with it because then you need to get some of that foundational stuff down first before you—'cause if you just learn a bunch of icons and none of the other stuff, you know, like how ideas connect together and all of that, then you know, it's not gonna be as beneficial. And you might burn out quicker because you're putting too much pressure that you have to draw a bunch of stuff. And it's not about that at all.

MR: Yeah. Yeah. That's good. Another good observation. I don't know if it quite qualifies as a tip, but I guess it is.

AR: Sure why not? Lots of tips.

MR: Pile another one on there.

AR: Yeah, that's what I got for you today. That's what I got for you today.

MR: Good. Well, that's great. That's really encouraging. Well, this is the point in the podcast where we ask how people can find you so they can make connections, say hello, check out your book, look at your work. All that kind of stuff. Our community always loves new people. And so, what would be the best place, places for people to find you and to see your work?

I got a few different ways. So my business is Minds Eye Creative, so mindseye,creative.ca 'cause I'm in Canada. All things Minds Eye Creative, that's where you can find me. And some of examples of my work for clients and things like that. And then Sketchnote.School is all things learning how to sketchnote. I've got my newsletter. I sent out a Sketchnote tip every Saturday. And you can learn about my book on there, "The Beginner's Guide to Sketchnoting," and you know, it's on Amazon and all those places too.

MR: Cool.

AR: And information about my community on there at Sketchnotes School as well. And I recently rebranded my YouTube channel. I'm gonna try to redo some YouTube things to Sketchnotes. So doing more under Sketchnotes School these days than Mind's Eye Creative.

MR: Cool. Well, those are good two or three good places. We'll look for you on YouTube. If you wanna send along you know, some links to me, we'll make sure that they get in the show notes. But we all of course, do our research here and try to provide pretty detailed shownotes so people can find things, so

AR: Absolutely. I love that.

MR: That's perfect. Well, thanks so much Ashton, for being on the show. It's been great to talk with you and hear your story and just hear your unique perspective and how you approach things and all the way down to the tools that you use that are a little different. That's really cool. I think it's important that we see variety and that we're not a homogenous thing. We're a variety where it's a community of people and all have different perspectives. And that's great because we need those perspectives to keep growing and improving the work we do. So thanks for being part of that community and the work you do.

AR: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. Had such a good time.

MR: Good. Well, for everyone who's watching or listening, it's another episode of the Sketchnote Army Podcast. Until the next episode, talk to you soon.

  continue reading

163 פרקים

כל הפרקים

×
 
Loading …

ברוכים הבאים אל Player FM!

Player FM סורק את האינטרנט עבור פודקאסטים באיכות גבוהה בשבילכם כדי שתהנו מהם כרגע. זה יישום הפודקאסט הטוב ביותר והוא עובד על אנדרואיד, iPhone ואינטרנט. הירשמו לסנכרון מנויים במכשירים שונים.

 

מדריך עזר מהיר