Visual Thinking Live!

I recently had the honour of speaking at Visual Thinking Live!, an ambitious, wide-ranging and simply enormous event in Moscow that demonstrated the huge level of interest in Russia for visualisation, creative thinking and graphic facilitation in its many forms.

The talk was delivered via Skype, and sitting at home with a cup of coffee, in my shorts and Springsteen T-Shirt, the prospect of addressing an audience of well over 1000 (500 gathered in central Moscow, the rest online) seemed less daunting than perhaps it should have. It didn’t seem quite real – though the snow falling outside created a suitably Russian atmosphere.

The day was kicked off by Parker Lee, the founder of XPLANE, who took the audience on a whistlestop tour of the history of visual thinking, followed by Anna Geyer (UK) and Martine Vanremoortele (NL), who both use graphic recording techniques as tools in group facilitation sessions.

The Scriberia session looked at our approach and philosophy, in particular the balance between graphic facilitation and illustration, and the challenge of delivering meaningful, creative, high quality imagery within the constraints of live capture. Despite a couple of technical difficulties, it was clear the audience, which included many art students and practicing illustrators, were really enthusiastic about our way of working and responded very positively to the examples of our work. A flurry of new Facebook friends in Moscow seemed to bear this out.

There was time for a few questions, and I was left floundering somewhat in attempting to satisfy a polite request to “comment on the notion of meaning”! Hoping something had been lost in the translation, I asked for it to be rephrased and was offered the far more straightforward “what is the meaning of meaning?” I hadn’t really anticipated this level of philosophical discourse and I’m afraid my answer couldn’t quite match the profundity of the question… though I think it was every bit as impenetrable.

Our friend and collaborator, Moscow-based illustrator Victor Melamed, wrapped up a busy day by running a scribing contest, where participants attempted live visual capture of a talk given by a member of WWF Russia about climate change.

So everything points to an explosion of graphic facilitation activity in Russia in the near future… and I’m hoping to get to Moscow in person for the next Visual Thinking Live! The event was brilliantly put together by Maria Stashenko of Wonderfull Project Lab, who’s promising to do it all again “in the very nearest future!”