Scribblings from New Jersey

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the 2019 International Forum of Visual Practitioners (IFVP) Conference at Montclair State University in New Jersey. It was my first deep exposure to a very, very energized community of graphic recorders and facilitators from around the globe. This year’s event spanned four days and drew about 200 attendees from 26 countries! 

IFVP promotes, teaches, and supports visual professionals and events like this help to advance the ever-expanding community’s growth and development. What is so remarkable about this organization is how incredibly supportive and generous everyone is toward one another. Even though I’m new to the community, I felt welcomed and had a chance to have enjoyable conversations with at least 40 people.


Terry LaBan’s graphic recording of Karina Branson’s workshop “Email Marketing for the Win”.


The event featured keynote presentations by Thomas E. Franklin on his life as a photojournalist; Rob Evans, master facilitator and author of The Collaboration Code; and Aleemna Wraye who coaches teams to build high performance organizations. Days were filled with breakout sessions designed to help attendees evolve their skills in listening, sketching, facilitating, marketing, and networking.

One of the exercises that stood out for me was when Rob Evans projected a matrix of questions intended to help people get to know themselves a bit better:

  1. Personal “WHO” — How are you perceived by the people who know you?
  2. Thought Leadership “WHAT” — What are you passionately curious about?
  3. Professional “WHERE” — Where does this passion show up in the world?
  4. Legacy “WHY” — Why is all of that important to you, your team, the world?

These questions are not new (in fact, we use them in our work every day) but his inward-looking exercise led me to the realization that I’d like to do more purpose-driven work, that I also can use my talents to help others outside of work—and I’ve already started making steps in that direction.

IMG_2422All in all, the conference was a great experience. I made a lot of new friends and I left the conference feeling energized by the camaraderie. I’m looking forward to future workshops.

Quick plug! Neuland Markers was there in support for the tenth year in a row. If you spend much time drawing on flip chart paper and care about the quality of your art, you should check these markers out. Lots of sizes and colors to choose from and they are refillable.

Another plug! The Saturday after the conference I was able to get over to Brooklyn to see Beyond the Streets NYC, a graffiti exhibit that celebrates the work of 150 artists from around the world including Shepard Fairey, FUTURA, Cleon Peterson, and the Guerrilla Girls

Even though I’ve been a professional artist for 30 years, I still find myself constantly inspired by what’s going on creatively in all corners of the world. Traveling to New Jersey and New York revealed two extremes of that spectrum. I met artists who draw on flipchart paper to help drive difficult conversations, then took in the work of graffiti artists who use spray paint to express their points of view. All of this is a reminder of how useful, powerful, and diverse art can be.

Group photo by Steve Weinstock.