Apr 16 2009
Last month I had the pleasure of co-graphic-recording with the amazing Mariah Howard at the ASI Agriculture Sustainability Symposium in Davis, California. I have some of the pictures here and am attempting a slideshow embed below!
First, I’ve been doing some work for ASI for about a year now and deeply appreciate their systems view of our food systems. It isn’t just agriculture – it is all the steps between the sprouting of the seed and your plate, and it includes a hay wagon full of policy as well. The people who care about this stuff are bright, engaging and committed. So it is great work.
The ASI team led by Tom Tommich had an ambitious three days planned, with the work from one day cascading and driving the next day. When Tom said I could bring in a second person, I said “A Graphic Recorder!” I had done some recording as I facilitated last year, but this time the content would be so dense and coming so fast, there was no way I could do it alone, nor do it justice. I’m still too new at this. So I sent a query to the International Forum of Visual Practitioners email list and found Mariah. I’ve known and admired her mom for many years, but we had never met nor worked together. So after one phone call I said “let’s do it!”
Now for those of you who have never co-graphically recorded, I have to say, it is not something everyone can do. It requires a very interesting collaborative dance and a certain “letting go” of one’s own habits and expectations. This dance is both physical (not getting in each others way), mental (co-processing the information as it comes in and deciding what to do with it), and for me, emotional (caring about the other person, respect, negotiate, push, pull, back off, drive forward.) It is an exquisite form of improv and I LOVE it. In this case, Mariah was a far superior artist, and I had a grasp of the content.
Over the first day we did 5 charts. We had spent a few hours the day before pre-planning and sketching out frameworks for each of the panels we were going to record. After the first panel – which was by far the toughest for me, we started letting go of our plans. By the third one we had totally let go of our plans and for me, things started to click. We also allowed ourselves the evening to finish off the panels and I’m VERY glad we did. They were still fairly raw at the end of the program day, but after some time adding color, connecting ideas and plain old “sense making” I think they turned out well. But the decision to “let go” of any pre-planning turned out to be critical, as was the simple act of getting used to each other as we worked. As a consequence, Mariah did most of the heavy lifting of key images, I did a lot of the content synthesis, and then we both colored and wove things together. But the images you see are far more her work than mine.
The content was dense so as you look at these, they probably won’t make sense as stand alone products. But they add a richness and can be very complimentary to the videos .
Mariah was a total pro and a champ to put up with “crazy Nancy.” I work fast, I switch directions on a dime and get really involved. I think it could be overwhelming to many. Not Mariah!
If you have co-recorded, what have been your experiences?