The Libyan Media Landscape is a project that has been keeping me busy for a long time. Now that it’s finally drawing to a close, I look back at the different iterations, and think about what a great learning experience it’s been. It started as a conversation between me and one of my coworkers who does research on the media in Libya. Then it evolved into a series of flipchart-sized images, some done in marker, others as collages. Later, the project was revived first as a hand-drawn 3D image, then as a series of black and white images. Finally, I had to go back to the drawing board, redo the whole thing in pencil and in ink, put it into photoshop, and fiddle around with it, until I got it right.
A few years ago, I heard this great word: tentaclism, which describes the increasing tendency towards multi-tasking and dabbling in all kinds of professions, doing one thing, as it were, with one of your multiple arms. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a term which captures what I do so well. That’s what was at the back of my mind when I made this sketch of myself as part of a conversation with Berlin-based startup Somewhere.
After the infographic about Libya’s media landscape had lain dormant for a while, I decided to start afresh, using only some recycling paper and a black marker. Nothing like radical simplification to clear your mind.
A few weeks after I returned from South Sudan, I was asked to draw an editorial cartoon for The Niles, a news platform for Sudan and South Sudan. The article is called “Electronic media – a threat to traditional media in South Sudan?” — this is what I came up with.
While most of the images from the Media&Makers conference in South Sudan turned out so well they did not require photoshopping, I wanted to create composites of some of the small format images to create more cinematic landscapes. Compositing is actually an art form in itself, so it required quite a lot of trial and error, but I am quite happy with this one.
My first real graphic recording gig was at the Media&Makers: Juba conference in South Sudan. It was an amazing experience, and actually being invited along specifically to sit in on the working groups, and take visual notes felt incredibly gratifying. It was also the first time I worked in a large format (A3), which gave me lots of space to work with, and felt very liberating after working with an A5 pad most of the time. I am happy that most of the images turned out so well.
Remember the smuggling map? Here’s what the final result looks like. All the compositing was actually done in photoshop, but I still think I achieved a nice hand-made look.
One challenge I frequently face as a graphic recorder, is how to draw faces. If the people are present, they might be insulted by an unflattering portrayal, if they aren’t present, their names are usually all I have to go on. Some people use smartphones or tablets to do quick google searches while they’re doodling, but I’m usually so focused on my drawing, I can’t imagine switching between notebook and tablet. For better or worse, that’s what the result typically looks like:
The panel ‘From Online Activism to Online Action’ at the Forum Medien und Entwicklung Symposium in October 2012 was the first event for which I did live graphic recording. As there were some very lively speakers on the panel, it was hard to keep up, but it was also a lot of fun.