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Large Scale Visual Notes at Supernova Forum 2010

August 2nd, 2010 · Uncategorized

Had a wonderful time capturing ideas at Supernova Forum 2010 with large scale visual notes. Just click on a picture to see a larger version.

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Evizualizing a Magazine Cover

July 8th, 2010 · business, envizualize, graphic recording, information design, Information Visualization, large scale visual notes, partnerships, visual sensemaking, vizsales vizmarketing vizpersuasion

Medical Meetings Magazine Cover--Jonny Style

Got some pleasant news a few days ago when I learned my large scale visual notes were being used as a magazine cover illustration.

The backstory:

My friends at ImageThink asked me to represent them by providing Graphic Recording at the March 2010 Pharmaceutical Meeting Management Forum in Philadelphia.

People at this event shared ideas for finding innovative ways to make their meetings successful in the current challenging economic circumstances while I represented those ideas in pictures and key words as they spoke in a kind of real time mural.

People at the conference gave me great feedback on the visual notes. I sent them photos of the graphics and filed it in my memory as another rewarding and interesting session.

Months later, I was delighted that the editors of Medical Meetings Magazine decided to use a closeup of my large scale visual notes from the event as the cover for their June issue.

This is a great example of the way graphic recording can extend the impact of your event long after it is over. Even if the visual notes don’t end up on the cover of a magazine, you can share them in email newsletters, brochures, slideshows, websites, and so on. If you want conversations to really count, graphic recording is a powerful way to create a vivid record of the ideas bouncing around the room at forums, meetings, and conferences.

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Supernova Forum, July 29-30

June 20th, 2010 · business, entrepreneurship, government, graphic recording, technology, visual sensemaking


I am excited to be the graphic recorder at Supernova Forum 2010, a conference which “…explores the transformation of computing, communications, business, and society in the Network Age. ” It will be a delightful challenge to translate the ideas bouncing around the event into pictures.

Speakers include the always stimulating and provocative Danah Boyd, Jeff Jarvis, and Beth Noveck.

Held since 2002, Supernova events bring together several hundred leading executives, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, government officials, and business practitioners to make connections, discuss emerging trends, and discover innovative new ideas and companies.

Supernova will take place July 29-30 at Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

The two days will contain a mix of self organizing sessions as well as a plethora of excellent speakers in a more traditional conference format.

Info and registration here.

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What Entrepreneurial Artists can Learn From a Seventh Grader

May 24th, 2010 · entrepreneurship, Uncategorized


If you want to be an entrepreneurial artist, you can learn a lot from a seventh grader I met this a couple of weekends ago. I know I did.

Meet Johnny D.

Last weekend, Johnny D was sitting behind a table in the midst of the Italian Market Festival in South Philadelphia offering to draw portraits. $3 for a black and white drawing, and $5 for color.

Here is what I learned from Johnny

1. You have got to put yourself out there.

One way or another, you are going to have to put yourself out there if you want to get paid for your art. That can be scary. But there sat Johnny D offering his portraits in exchange for money. If Johnny can do it, so can you. Get the support you need and do it.

2. Exploit opportunities.

Johnny D’s mom owns a storefront on 9th street, smack dab in the middle of where the Italian Market Festival takes place. Johnny took advantage of the opportunity to use that prime real estate in front of the storefront during a time of maximal foot traffic. Your mom may not own a storefront in a bustling foot corridor, but you have your own unique opportunities, if you only are smart enough recognize them and take advantage of them.

3. Remember the the 4 Ps

Remember the 4 Ps? Johnny D does.

Product:Portrait by 7th Grade Artist Johnny D

Johnny offered his own twist on a classic product: the street portrait. Instead of doing the large, photorealistic portraits typical in street artist portraits, Johnny offered miniature portraits. Instead of graphite or charcoal, Johnny used fine point sharpies. Instead of paper, he used cardstock. Instead of photorealism, he offered an impressionistic portrait, but one still grounded in close observation.


With a street portrait, the final picture is only half the product. The other half is the experience of sitting for the portrait. Johnny offered a differentiated product by virtue of his age. How often do you get to have your portrait drawn by a young person? It was like a time machine. I felt like I was in junior high school having that one “good drawer” drawing my picture. That, on top of his distinctive style, sold me.


Johnny D: Signage

It does not matter how good your product is if nobody knows about it. Johnny effectively generated awareness of his product. He set up in a high foot traffic area where people were looking to have fun and spend money. He clearly communicated his offerings with a big stylish handcrafted sign that said “Drawings By Johnny D.” He displayed sample portraits to show people his portraits.



Johnny posted his portrait prices: 3 dollars for black and white, 5 dollars for color. That kind of pricing seemed sensible to me. At the festival people were paying from 3-10 dollars for food and beverage items. So Johnny’s pricing is well within the range of his potential customers’ expectations for festival expenditures. And it is high enough so that if he does decent volume—say 20 portraits, he would generate 60 to 100 dollars. That’s a lot of manga novels, cheesesteaks, or whatever it is that 7th grade boys like to spend their money on these days.

Update: Johnny cleared over $500 in 2 days!


The artist placed himself and his product in the center of a swarm of potential customers so that they would have easy access to information about his product and to the product itself.

My Customer Experience?

When I walked by Johnny I saw his sign, I came closer and looked at his samples, and then I checked for prices. When I looked at his samples, I thought, “Hmmm, not bad.” I kept heading up the street, but as I strolled Johnny and his pictures kept popping into my mind. So I decided to go back. I decided on a black and white portrait.

As he sat and drew me, I asked if I could take some photos for this website, and he said he was fine with that. I loved the way he went back and forth between looking at me and feverishly developing his drawing. Halfway through, I told him I wanted to upgrade it to color. He obliged, handed me the portrait, and I loved it. I handed him a five and walked away happy. The picture is now on my fridge.

Success Breeds Success:


As Johnny drew me, people stopped to watch the performance, which led to him booking two more customers. So get the ball rolling and it will keep rolling faster.

Suggestions for Johnny (and maybe you too)

I think he did a great job with many aspects of marketing and sales for this portrait gig, but there is always room to improve. Here are a couple of suggestions for next time.

1) Offer a whole solution. For example, some people might want a framed picture. So Johnny could frame pictures on the spot for an additional fee.

2) Offer three price points. That way you can upsell people who want a premium product or downsell to someone who is on a tight budget.

3) Collect customer email addresses. Successful business people cultivate relationships. It is much easier to generate repeat business than to keep finding new customers. If you collect email addresses, you can build those relationships via an occasional email newsletter. If someone sat for a portrait, that person is already a fan of your work. It makes all kinds of sense to cultivate your fan (AKA potential regular customer) base. This is gold. It is much harder to acquire new customers than to keep repeat ones.

4) Make a website. A website is a useful resource for building one’s brand. There are many ways to use the site—show samples, give updates on future appearances, give contact information for people who want commissions, give people a place to sign up for your email newsletter, etc. Before creating a website, talk it over with your parents. A website is a public face, and there are safety and privacy concerns with putting your information out in cyberspace.

Now Johnny may not want to implement my suggestions. There are a lot of other things to do in 7th grade beside focusing on maximizing marketing and sales for his art business. I know that Johnny has a lot of other talents and interests. But let me say this. I was very impressed by what I saw last weekend. If he applies the same amount of guts, effort, smarts, and talent, in whatever he chooses to do, I predict a bright future for him. I just wish I was where he was at when I was in 7th grade. At least I can be inspired by him right now.


Thanks to Johnny D’s mother, Molly for giving me permission to use her son as the inspiration for this blog post. And thanks of course, to the artist and entrepreneur Johnny D.

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Graphic Recording from Marketing Camp

May 2nd, 2010 · graphic recording, information design, Information Visualization, sketchnotearmy, storytelling, Uncategorized, visual sensemaking

(Click image for larger version)

Above:Steve Red’s talk about how his agency, Red Tettemer has embraced change.

Agency of the Future: Part 1
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Agency of the Future: Part 2
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Above: Parts 1 and 2 of David Levy’s discussion of the agency of the future, using GrowthFactorX as an example of one approach.

GPTMC-Integreted Marketing Strategy
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Above: Veronica Wentz gave a high level view of the integrated marketing efforts of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation

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Negotiation Toons #1: Positions Vs. Interests

April 29th, 2010 · Uncategorized

Lately I have been getting interested in negotiation. Above, I have drawn a picture of one of the basic concepts—positions versus interests. Positions are a what a party states they want, and interests are what motivate those assertions.

You can think of interests as the tip of the iceberg—they are what are visible. But dive deeper and you will find the interests that underlay those positions.

When people are negotiating, the better they know each other’s interests, the better chance they will have of finding the agreement that will be optimal to all parties.

You can think of interests as the tip of the iceberg—they are what are visible. But dive deeper and you will find the interests that underlay those positions.

Stay tuned, or should I say tooned, for more Negotiation Toons.

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140 Characters Conference NYC 2010 iPad SketchNotes

April 20th, 2010 · information design, Information Visualization, sketchnotearmy, storytelling, visual sensemaking

(link to the set of SketchNotes)

Above is a slideshow of SketchNotes I created at day 1 of the 2010 NYC 140 Characters Conference.

Jeff Pulver assembled an amazing roster of people to speak at the conference, from NBC’s Ann Curry, to MC Hammer, to Jay Rosen.
They, and many other speakers, discussed the implications of what Pulver calls “Now media” for business and society. “Now media” is the combination of emerging social platforms with older media forms.

jeffrey hazlett at 140 Conference NYC 2010

Jeff Hayzlett, the Chief Marketing Officer at Kodak, gave a moving talk about the power of helping people sharing emotional moments.

David Carr: Why Twitter Will Endure

New York Times writer David Carr explained why he though Twitter will continue to thrive, summarized above in key words.

To see video clips of all the speakers, check here.

Thanks to R/GA for lending me the iPad for the day. R/GA is a visionary international digital design company. I am honored that they worked with me on this.

Technical Notes:

I drew the SketchNotes on an iPad using a Pogo stylus and the SketchBook Pro App.

link to the set of SketchNotes

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