NPR and frog design / Digital Think In

Recently had the opportunity to participant in the “NPR and frog design: Digital Think In” in San Franciso. The event was described by frog design as “With the Digital Think In, NPR invites thought leaders across a variety of disciplines to help public media envision the next stage of a digital media strategy. Hosted and facilitated by frog design, this one-day interactive workshop will explore alternative business models, news gathering opportunities and distribution outlets, as well as develop scenarios for NPR’s digital future.”

My role was to supply illustration support for 5 groups comprised of 60 participants. That support involved creating sketches on dry eraser boards, large presentation paper, typing paper, or pre-printed storyboard frames. My weapon of choice? Sharpie pens. -Expect on the dry eraser boards of course. How much time was I given to complete the average sketch? A few minutes. Rarely more than five. How many pieces did I draw? No idea. I wasn’t able to tally them due to the variety of mediums used.


This was the situation a day prior to the event. A range of illustration styles and presentation approaches were explored. Roland Smart, a superbĀ Marketing 2.0 Consultant, joined me to concept a number of visuals in advance of the event also.


What did I learn awhile working with these amazing individuals. Tons!! Enough, in fact, to build a few simulation models for the college courses I teach. But more importantly, I learned that talking to an illustrator can be a bit perplexing for many. No matter how seasoned someone is in their discipline. Honestly, how often does anyone in the business work with an illustrator directly. And by “directly” I mean face-to-face, describing in detail what they need, and then pausing for the results? Right. Never. So, understandable, I received a number of blank stares at first. Which was fine. I had a blank stare too. But it wasn’t long before I was bouncing from one group to the next, listening carefully to the quantity of information desired, and immediately building a visual to communicate the data/concept.

There’s a number of ways you can view the work described above. Here…


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