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What is Graphic Recording, and Why Bother?

So you’ve always wondered what graphic recording really is, and why you should bother? We asked our Intern, Terence, to participate (as a participant) at a recent session we worked on. Here’s his experience of graphic recording and its value. [Hint: It’s not about beautiful drawings!]

What is Graphic Recording, and Why Bother?
by Terence Tee

Last Friday, at the grand finale of the CHAT Work in Progress 2.0 forum series, I finally got to witness Kailin in action! To be honest, I had little knowledge about graphic recording and other visual practices before taking up the internship.

We arrived about an hour before the official session to prepare. This involved understanding the program schedule from the CHAT organisers, setting up the work area, and checking our materials. On to the event…

Kailin listens closely to what is being said in the group, processes it in her head, and pens down the essence of the conversation. Her arsenal for the evening is an array of markers, pastels and paint. She uses them to write down and draw images on boards for the group to see. Different colours and fonts differentiate the mood or topic while icons and drawings represent various key ideas. During the entire forum, her attention is focused on the conversation and translating it visually onto the boards. The end result? A captivating visual display of the evening’s narrative, ideas and emotions.

The job of a graphic recorder is to record content discussed or presented live during an event (or conversation) in visual form.

Compared to a visual facilitator (will be explored in another post), the focus of a graphic recorder is capturing the content. This does not mean that Kailin has no contribution in facilitating the group discussion. On the contrary, she supports the process in an important way. The graphic recordist synthesises the information and presents it in a logical and organised framework, making the flow of the conversation easy to follow. While members of the discussion watch their ideas transform into visual representations, it stimulates their thinking, and this encourages participation.

After the event, the clients get to keep the original piece of work. Kailin will take pictures of it and digitise the images for further edits depending on the purpose of the client.

Watching her at work and going through the process made me understand the job of a graphic recorder better. Hopefully you did too!

p.s. Check out other articles in our Ask Our Intern series here: