Category Archives: Quick & Dirty

The illustration sprint

You may be familiar with the design sprint, or the book sprint, or the software development sprint, but have you heard of the illustration sprint? I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t, because I just made it up.

The reason for this neologism is that I was recently contacted by the author of a book about startups in Germany, and he wanted a lot of illustrations done quickly. His idea was to sit down for a day and create as many illustrations for the book as possible.

I immediately liked the idea, but realized that the sprint required careful planning. For one thing, the style of the illustrations had to be determined beforehand. Fortunately, my collaborator really liked my sketchnotes about a talk by Mercedes Bunz.

Mercedes Bunz: Copy & Paste (3)


After we had established a date, we sat down together at my kitchen table, and started drawing. Surprisingly, only a few images went into the bin, while 36 drawings were considered good enough to be reproduced in the book. Considering that we worked for eight hours straight, that is an average of 13 minutes per drawing!

Here are some of the results:
Illustration sprint


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Teaching with images

In January, I was asked to give a 4-day seminar on the history of videogames at SAE Stuttgart (on account of my former life as a videogame researcher). I decided to use ask the students to use the flipchart in the classroom to record the class, and because there were only 4 pages left, the record needed to be very tightly condensed. However, I think this constraint made the result even better, as it nicely captures 50+ years of videogame history. You can find the Flickr set hereVideo Game History

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Media Hack Day

Last weekend, I went to the Media Hack Day organized by WAN-IFRA in preparation for the World Publishing Expo. I didn’t get there until Sunday afternoon, just in time for the final presentations of the projects, which took place at breakneck (or in my case, breakwrist) speed. Each presentation was only allotted 3 minutes, so I could only make very sparse notes on each one. However, after I made a composite image, and added a border of small blue icons I had made in preparation for the event, I was very happy with the result.

Media Hack Day

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Here’s an Idea …

Last week, I went to the Newsroom Innovation Ideathon organized by WAN-IFRA, as part of Tech Open Air Berlin. Among the participants were Adam Thomas from Storyful, Sebastian Horn from Sourcefabric, Christian Lüdtke from Etventure, Stephen Fozard and Cherrilyn Ireton from WAN-IFRA, Steffen Konrath from Liquid Newsroom, and Ulrich Schmitz from Axel Springer. While it took a while to get through the introductions, I really enjoyed the conversation, and I am confident that those ideas will be developed further during the follow-up hackathon planned for later this year. You can find my sketchnotes from the events on my Flickr page and on Slideshare.

UPDATE: One of the sketchnotes has been picked up by World of Print for their news item about the upcoming WAN-IFRA hackathons.

WAN-IFRA Ideathon

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Cartooning Exercises

At the moment, it’s incredibly hard to find the time to draw, but whenever I have a little time on my hands these days, I turn to Ivan Brunetti’s wonderful little book Cartooning. It’s a collection of exercises for aspiring cartoonists, and so far I have only managed to do one set of them. However, it’s been a lot of fun, and I wanted to share the results with you. Ivan Brunetti: Cartooning Exercises (1)

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Taking shelter

It’s been a while since my last post, due to the fact that I was on vacation, and I’ve been so busy with other things, I hardly got around to do any doodling. I wanted to share one thing with the world though: a storyboard for a short infographic animation on the topic of tax havens I made a few weeks ago. It’s the first time I tried my hand at storyboarding, and it’s far from perfect, but I am still pretty pleased with it. (Flickr link)

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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.Tentaclism

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Back to basics

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.

Libya’s Media Landscape, pt. 1: During the Revolution

Libya’s Media Landscape, pt. 2: After the Revolution

Libya’s Media Landscape, pt. 3: Consolidation


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Making Faces

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:Minister of Information, Vice Minister, and Under-Secretary

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