I shared a snippet or two of my sketch notes from Healthcare Experience Design conference last week, but I haven’t yet posted the full spread, so here it is! I’ve got my fingers crossed to work with mad*pow on making it an interactive, possibly linking the illustrations to the sound bytes or video clips they reference (an awesome suggestion from my fellow @ScrtDsgnClb members) and maybe even getting some posters done up. There’s much that I could do with this, but I wanted to share these while the talks were still fresh for those who were there with me in Boston.

Alas, here are my full notes. Be sure to click on the image for a closer look at the details.


How? Why?

Standing behind Jason during the opening keynote inspired me to try my own sketchnotes.

I was a little late for the conference opening, but lucky me I walked in and stood at the back behind Jason Robb who was doing these awesomely-large drawings, which inspired me to have a go myself. I ran into him later at the snack station and showed him my little notepad, and he enthusiastically told me to keep going.

Jason kept doing drawings throughout the day and posted them around the hall. Was cool to see them come alive as a set and to compare how we both interpreted the same talks, which points each of us chose to focus on. Sometimes our directions overlapped and sometimes they didn’t, which demonstrates both the beauty and the challenge of visual interpretations – we can both have the same input, hear the same words, but of course take something different away from them.

In terms of style and technique it was also interesting to see how I tried to go for the small bytes of visual or story-telling elements to try and capture as much of the talk as I could, and Jason seemed to focus on a few main points to better tell a single story. Jason was also drawing at a larger scale, admittedly more difficult than what I was doing, and he used post-its to take notes he could come back to later on. Mine was way less structured, but I was surprised by how little I felt I messed up just by doing free association and no planning.

I had trouble remembering how to draw some things on the spot though (eg. an island, a banana tree, a train, or Kermit the frog after one attendee actually asked Jonathan Bush a question in Kermit’s voice). I wish I had a picture of Here’s Jason’s drawing of Kermit, which he absolutely nailed. (Thanks @pdurginbruce for the link!)

I captured all my notes with my iphone and dumped the photos into one file, then organized the flow and edited the contrast on each.

One of the more tedious aspects was organizing all the images so they ended up in a solid block of drawings. It's not like text, where the images were in chunks and could flow easily from one column to the next. If the columns didn't end up equal in height, the entire poster had to be reflowed.

The first snippet I shared. I printed out the drawings in 11x17 and colored it in with highlighters, but couldn't get the same neon colors in photoshop, so I switched to a more subtle palette.

One more detail shot. The pink was inline with the HXD palette of pink and turquoise.

It was challenging to do all the illustrations while the speakers were speaking, to draw and listen at the same time, and I’m sure I’ve misquoted some things (esp. facts and figures). The main objective though was to capture the gist and emotion of each speaker, which I think I’ve done and in a more memorable way than straight-up text. It’s certainly more interesting to recall insights in this way after the event is long gone, and I think I’ll try to incorporate this practice into all my future conference-going.

Special thanks to Jason Robb for the inspiration and encouragement to try something new, and to Amy Cueva from mad*pow for my no-obligations press pass, and to my awesome job for enabling me to go.