female artist

How do You Paint what Makes A Community Unique?

You’ve probably seen some cryptic emails from me over the past few weeks about a surprise project I was working on. I’m delighted now to share it with you all, along with a special behind-the-scenes look at what went into the design.

On August 2nd, to the sweet sounds of the Hazel Miller Band, the 100th Piano About Town was officially unveiled as a part of our community! And yep, you guessed it, I was the lucky artist to get to paint it!

100th-piano-fort-collins

The typical piano process includes a request for proposals from artists sketched out, which are then reviewed and selected for painting outside where passers by can watch the piano unfolding and sometimes even play while it’s being painted.

For the 100th Piano, the Bohemian Foundation wanted to do something a little different and include voices across the community. Enter: a graphic facilitator to conduct and capture focus groups to gather ideas for the piano content.

I listened to people answering the question “What makes Fort Collins unique?”: from seniors to second graders at summer camp to young professionals to those who represent diverse groups at university to musicians. I listened, captured, asked questions, and scribed each group’s conversations.

100th Piano Fort Collins BaseCamp Kids Graphic Facilitation Chart

Then, I took all the charts and began looking for themes. What places did each group bring up? What characteristics make our community special? Then, I sketched out a concept design to gather feedback and refine before painting the piano itself.

This was, to me, the most challenging part of the whole process. How do you distill over five hours of stories, memories, and connections into a single illustration? That’s where the scribe training of listening for themes, distillation and synthesis really shone in this process. It was important to me to make sure all the ideas were included, that key words emerged throughout the imagery, and most of all, that when anyone from the community looks at the piano, they see themselves somewhere in it.

100th piano draft sketch_conversketch

The painting took place inside so it would be a fun, beautiful surprise when it was unveiled at a free concert series last week. Over 12 days, the landscape, people, and stories emerged!

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karina-branson-100th-piano-fort-collins-painting-artist

Want to tickle the ivories and see it for yourself? The 100th Piano will be in Old Town Square for a couple more weeks, then will live in the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery for the winter.

100th-piano-old-town-square-fort-collins-colorado

For more musings on pianos and creativity, check out this post.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

 

On My Way to New York, New York!  This week is the first of three meetings between multiple academic groups and the Mayor of NYC to create models and plans for storm water management and sea level rise in the City of New York. Stay tuned, or check out my  Instagram  profile and story for real-time videos and pictures.

On My Way to New York, New York! This week is the first of three meetings between multiple academic groups and the Mayor of NYC to create models and plans for storm water management and sea level rise in the City of New York. Stay tuned, or check out my Instagram profile and story for real-time videos and pictures.

In the Studio:   Working on the third Wildfire Risk Management Science Team illustrated video. This third video focuses on challenges of fires that cross management boundaries, and mapping tools the Team uses to make recommendations for safer and more effective fire management.

In the Studio: Working on the third Wildfire Risk Management Science Team illustrated video. This third video focuses on challenges of fires that cross management boundaries, and mapping tools the Team uses to make recommendations for safer and more effective fire management.

Happy Summer from ConverSketch

While I’ve touted the power of consistency in previous posts, the fact of the matter is…it’s summer. Between graphic recording jobs, we took a week and explored San Francisco and the Northern California coast on the way to a stunning wedding of dear friends on the Smith River.

Directors Retreat_Impact the Field.jpg

And, as I mentioned in my last dispatch, this summer I've had the honor of working on a surprise project which will be unveiled on Thursday, August 2nd in Old Town Square, Fort Collins at 7 pm. The Hazel Miller Band will be playing a Thursday Night Live concert in the Square, so if you're in NoCo, come on down, listen to some great music, and check out what I've been up to!

conversketch-palette

That big ol’ surprise project isn’t quite done, so…that’s my cue to leave you with this short, sweet update email. Now go enjoy some summer time!

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

redwoods

Three Things You Never Thought of to Level Up Your Company's Culture

What do you think of when you hear the word “culture”?

Does it make you want to panic and flee (potentially to the nearest bar and sing some Boy George songs)? It certainly is a popular business blog topic and a fun little buzzword that gets some folks fired up, and makes other peoples’ eyes glaze over.

Be that as it may, as someone who works closely with teams across different sectors, I get to see the effects of this powerful concept as I support groups moving through tough situations or developing steps to their ideal future state. Sometimes it’s clear that a team has a super dialed culture (aka it’s personality, or the basic shared values and beliefs of an organization), and sometimes it’s clear that folks haven’t taken the time to do the hard work it takes to cultivate and nurture a solid organizational culture.

So, because good things come in three’s, here are three ways a graphic facilitator can help you identify and share what makes your org so incredibly high-functioning and generally awesome so you can keep leading the pack and changing the world.

Create it Together. Communication can make or break an organization. If everyone can actually see themselves in the goals you’re aiming for, they’re much more likely to remember and commit to the group’s vision. Creating a shared, visual reflection of the group’s ideas and stories is a powerful tool to develop buy-in.

Share Like It’s Your Job (It Is). Tools like Summary Graphics and Explainer Videos can be used after your killer, productive, collaborative and fun meeting to remind what people bring to the bigger picture. These beautiful illustrations are often hung in shared spaces or individual desks because they’re stylish and functional – i.e. they’re not only packed with key ideas from everyone, they’re nice to look at too.

Nurture & Invest. Humans have a delightful tendency to change and adapt, and your organizational culture really should do the same to be useful. This might sound exhausting, but it’s an opportunity to build trust and autonomy in your org. Working with a graphic facilitator to train your employees on visual and collaborative thinking is an investment that can have a glorious ripple effect. Skills like suspending judgement, divergent thinking, and of course, creative doodling can have a tremendously positive effect on teams. Go on, teach them to fish.

Click on the image below to see the larger version below.

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, I'd be so grateful if you shared it with your friends!

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

 
Cheers, Karina



All this culture business (and business culture) sounds like fun. Click below so we can start designing your culture & communication strategy together.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Last week I shared a finished explainer video on Dialogue and Deliberation, this week is a more behind-the-scenes perspective. Here's a shot of my video recording set up for the most recent video I recorded. I won't be able to share the video per my client's privacy, but I can show you that the magic is made right here!

Last week I shared a finished explainer video on Dialogue and Deliberation, this week is a more behind-the-scenes perspective. Here's a shot of my video recording set up for the most recent video I recorded. I won't be able to share the video per my client's privacy, but I can show you that the magic is made right here!

When Can Being Intoxicated Be A Good Thing?

ConverSketch is intoxicated this week. No, last night wasn’t crazy, and , despite working from home, I haven’t started drinking early in the day (that's a joke, people!). I’m talking about a different kind of intoxication, and one that is a lot more productive.

This little post for you is inspired by the following piece by Hugh McLeod of GapingVoid Art.

As Hugh so eloquently puts it: You can be intoxicated by a lot of things. We like possibility.

This concept is nothing new, it’s the foundation of so many successful businesses. But somehow, this unorthodox way of stating a concept that these days often feels brittle and overused keeps me coming back to it. Thinking of possibility as intoxicating, as full of energy, new ideas and connections instead of overwhelming, unclear or unknown. And if you tend to get anxious and overwhelmed, you might enjoy this post on how drawing can help you move through overwhelm.

It's a craft to learn to tap into what you feel the moment you realize there’s a lot more to something than you originally thought. Which electrifies you. Suddenly hours have gone by, and there’s still more energy bubbling up from inside you.

There's a few things that have me intoxicated this week...
- Putting together and beta testing a new offering from ConverSketch to utilize my strengths connecting with and encouraging individuals to cultivate Aha Moments with folks one-on-one.
- Delivering prints of my watercolor paintings to the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery and Wolverine Farm Publick House to sell. (Note: The positive feedback I’ve gotten from you all with my painting really blows my mind. Thank you for giving me a resounding high five to continue pursuing and refining my fine art skills!)
- Seeing little vegetable sprouts emerging from tiny little seeds (how miraculous is that!?)

Click on the image below to see the larger version.

What possibilities are intoxicating you right now? Take a moment over a glass of wine or beer and doodle out some possibilities that are as enticing as a nice cool beverage on a warm summer evening.

What might be keeping you from taking a nice, big swig from that cup o’ possibility? What steps can you take THIS WEEK to move toward making it a reality?

Comment below so others can benefit from your wisdom. 

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, I'd be so grateful if you shared it with your friends!

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

 
Cheers, Karina




What possibilities are you exploring with your organization or individually? Click that button to chat with me about how I can help you make it more effective, productive and fun with graphic recording.
 

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Here's a snapshot from a graphic recording at a workshop with CSU's One Health Institute as the team worked with the talented folks at New City to develop a rockin' communication strategy moving forward. People, Animals, Planet. Heck yeah. 

How does a creative entrepreneur who enjoys predictability relax?

One of my favorite ways to wake up in the morning is the sound of birds singing.

Especially the sweet, gentle sounds that pull me gently from my slumber, but even the more, shall we say, insistent ones right outside my window are welcome to my ears. 

Why? 

Birds are a reminder for me of the importance of trust.

They trust that when they take their first flutters from the nest, they will be able to take flight. They trust that the sun will rise and they will sing their songs. They soar through windy skies, zip between tangled branches, or over steep ledges, because they trust what they are meant to be doing.

Wanting to have a pretty solid idea of what is likely to happen in the future is human nature. Some of us are more uncomfortable with not knowing than others, and of course practice makes progress.

I am one of those humans who generally enjoys some level of predictability. 

If there's one thing you can do in life to eliminate said predictability, I'm pretty sure that's to be a self-employed consultant. Add into that the fact that for many of my graphic recording jobs, I am not really sure what's going to happen during the session, but I will be expected to hand over a beautifully finished chart by the end of it. Uncertainty much?  And I must really enjoy this lack of control thing as I've recently delved a lot deeper into painting with watercolors (check the end of this email for more deets). Which tend to do what they want. 

Cue increased heart rate and impulse to reach for a glass of wine. 

Instead of letting my mind worry (a misuse of imagination, according to Dan Zadra), I take a few deep breaths and focus on trusting that everything is working out exactly as it's meant to.

And the birds can help us humans out too. Listening for as many different bird songs as I can is a fun practice that helps me get present and relax.

Then it's time to take action! Because as much as I trust that everything is unfolding divinely, you gotta do the work too.

Click on the image below to see the larger version on the blog.

Do you have any tips or tricks to share that help you focus on trust? Share in the comments below so others can benefit from your wisdom. 

If you liked this nugget of wisdom, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, I'd be so grateful if you shared it with your friends!

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

 
Cheers, Karina



Need someone you can trust to capture the essence of your next event? Click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of graphic facilitation magic.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

This month I've been working on my watercolor painting skills, leading to the creation of several Colorado wildlife paintings including this little flammulated owl.  If you'd like to see more paintings and work in progress shots, give me a follow on Instagram. If you like what you see and you're interested in purchasing fine art prints or greeting cards, let's chat!

My Top 3 Tips to Rock Your Work Day in 2016

Hey there!
 
I don't know about you, but I'm feeling rejuvenated and energized for 2016. Yes, it seems like everyone is posting online about how kickass 2016 is going to be, how excited they are and what big plans they have in store for us.

You may be thinking along the lines of "Yes! I've been planning and 2016 is going to be spectacular for me too!" Or, you might find yourself wondering "How is everybody so brilliant and productive around the holidays? What will 2016 hold for me?"

If you feel like you're asking those questions, here's a post I wrote about the benefits and tips for creating a Vision Board. (Pssst! Just because it's not January 1 doesn't mean it's too late!)

To be honest, toward the end of 2015 I had a difficult time staying motivated and focusing on important work from day to day. The beginning of a new year is an intuitive time to look back on the year, learn, visualize and plan for success, so I decided to take a hard look at what I was doing (or not doing) and how to shift my daily practices to better reflect the love I have for my work. 

So here for you, lovely readers/doodlers, are the fruits of my self-reflection and observation: The 3 top tips that have helped me refocus and rock the first couple of weeks in 2016.

3) Your Daily Top 3. Each evening, I take a few minutes to write down my top 3 projects or to-do's for the next day somewhere I can see it clearly. This tip is from Marie Forleo (if you haven't checked out her weekly business Q&A videos I recommend it). Taking time at the end of the day to prioritize and organize helps me jump right in instead of flopping around the next morning trying to decide what to do when. I've tried this in my phone, on my computer, and on a note-pad on my desk, but for me, I've found that writing it on the corner of my Ridiculously Enormous Graphic Recorder-Sized Whiteboard is most helpful because I can see them all day and cross them the heck off when I get them done! It's the little things, right?

2) 15 Minute Bites. Sometimes the hardest part of a project is starting it, and Ariana Friedlander of Rosabella Consulting shared this tip with me to overcome that barrier. I like to set a timer for 15 minutes and tell myself to just focus on the task at hand for that long. It's such a short chunk of time I can ward off the typical procrastination techniques...I can wait 15 minutes to get a snack, or check my email after I've done 15 minutes of work on a project...hold on, my timer just went off...

And my #1 Tip for staying focused and rocking on the daily is...

1) Start Analog. For me, this means not turning my computer on first thing, but sitting down with a pencil or paintbrush and doing some sketches or painting (for at least 15 minutes!). I find that once I get going, even if it's just for a short time, my momentum from that carries me deeper into the art or inspires me to move on to the next thing on my list. That feeling of having completed something, even if it's just a small sketch, is incredibly powerful in setting a productive tone for the day instead of getting sucked into the wormhole that email can become. 


(Hint: click on the image below to see the larger version)

There you have it! I hope these tips help you kick some ass and inspire those around you to crush their days too. With your powers combined, anything is possible! 

Do you have any tips or tricks to share that help you rock and roll on the daily? Share in the comments below so others can benefit from your wisdom. 

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, I'd be so grateful if you shared it with your friends!

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

 
Cheers, Karina










Now that you're crushing your work day, click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of graphic recording magic.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at my set-up for filming explainer videos. This one is for Creek Consulting describing deliberative facilitation and how it can help your organization. Check my YouTube channel later this month for the finished video!