Graphic Recording @ SXSW 2012

I recently had the good fortune of doing graphic recording at SXSW Interactive (Austin, TX) with Unified Social and StumbleUpon while wearing the Visualhero cape. Words cannot describe the sensation of being around that many curious, talented, and successful people. However, work-wise, it was easily the most challenging drawing experience I’ve ever had. The pace was intense. The relevance on technology was heavy. And those factors coupled with unpredictable content and zero venue control meant….well, a certain level of creative acrobatics were required.

For those unfamiliar with “graphics recording” just think of it as “visual note taking.” Simply put, you listen to a talk and immediately generate visuals to compliment that same talk. The reason this can be extremely taxing on the mind is you’re listening intently, conjuring images based on what you’re hearing, selecting an image (mentally) which best suits the topic, drawing it –while still listening to the discussion, and conjuring the next visual while completing the prior one. Visual brevity and speed are the soul of graphic recording. If at any point you have to use an eraser you’re probably falling behind ‘n in trouble.

An iPad was assigned to this project. And, like I said before, it was tricky. Because of the glass surface, rubber-like stylus tip, and delay in line rendering it was truly an unnatural experience. My brain struggled with this tactile circus -thus adding to the cognitive load mentioned above. Process-wise, each talk ranged from 45-minutes to alil’ over an hour with 30-minutes to maybe a few hours before the next. Each day was filled with talks. The mission? One visual per talk. Immediately following a talk the visual was uploaded to team members who proofed it, distributed it to various news resources, and also tweeted about it. And BTW, Unified Social rocked like no other (unifiedsocial.com/sxsw/).

Side note…more often than not people approached me at the end of talk with questions ranging from “how are you doing that?” to “can you do that for our business?” Great conversations were born within those moments so I’m glad no one was shy. This along with Tweeter comments (@visualhero) really helped me remain charged. I even managed to include “Trudydoodie” (@trudydoodie) within a sketch after she paid a nice compliment via Twitter. :)

With that, here’s the entire collection of images generated using “SketchBook Pro” on the iPad (1024×768 @ 72 dpi) in the order completed. -Cause you can definitely see an improved  (!).

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