*psss! check the videos at the end of the article!

In the salty air of a rainy summer morning of July, I put my flip-flops on and quickly descended the spiral stairs of the 2 floor mansion not far from the Black Sea shore, went past the 6 sleeping dogs and entered the training room – which also served as a dining room (you know Erasmus+ projects have small budgets!). Here participants at the training were eating breakfast, sniffing coffee and talking. I grabbed a big sheet of paper and a marker and started writing, with big letters, adding a bulb and a paint brush and some shades and then posted it on the wall. It said: Ideas, not art!

Maybe I didn’t tell you, but the bigger brother of the “Dare to sketch note!” workshop is a three-day training on graphic facilitation. And it took place on July 13-15 2015, in a small village, in South-Eastern Romania, called 2 Mai, near the seaside. It’s been a great experience and I think the videos at the bottom of this article prove it best!

To sum it up, 23 creative people form 6 countries (Italy, Spain, Great Britain, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Romania) attended this project, funded through Erasmus+ and masterfully organised by Asociația Devision (aka Claudia Oprescu). These people were from all sorts of fields and had very diverse backgrounds. Say volunteering, architecture, film-making, teaching, politics, graphic design, geography, training, even medicine. Must I say I was both thrilled and scared to meet and introduce them to the realm of graphic facilitation?

I took two days off in order to put all my ideas and plans together and build the training in a way that would really be of help for all of them. I decided to have a main theme for each day, and made sure they had enough time to practice thoroughly what they were discovering along the way. We had:

Day 1. Symbols | “I can draw! I can draw!”

We began by getting a hold of symbols and how we can start by using simple figures (dots, lines, circles, squares, triangles) to draw almost anything. Then went on to more complex sketches by playing some very engaging drawing games that had the power to unleash our inner creative sides.

Day 2. Structure & Process | How to extract ideas and organise them

We explored mind maps in order to learn about how to structure information on big pieces of paper. We also had some very interesting conversations and exercises on how to listen, how to extract ideas, how to organise information and why some pre-defined models work better than others, while no model always works because it’s based on improvising.

Day 3. Practice | Drawing all day!

This was a whole day dedicated to doing graphic facilitation. We split into groups and six of them held, one by one, speeches on all sorts of interesting topics they were passionate about. The rest of them had to graphically record the speeches, then assess their work and exchange feedback. And then do it once more. They loved it! You can see their energy and great results in the videos they made a couple of days later.

I was amazed by their evolution along the three days, going from simple sketches to complex visuals and finally graphic facilitation. I was amazed by their focus, their willingness to learn and contribute, their thirst for knowledge. I gotta say: I want more people like them in my workshops!

All of these culminated with the 4th day when we split into two teams. One went to a local kindergarten and successfully shared our skills with local teachers, helping them to visualise their strategic plans for the development of the building and environment. The other team went to a local school, having the same target, but this time with pupils.

As a PLUS, in the 5th day, these talented participants also made some awesome videos on what is graphic facilitation or presenting the whole program. They’re brilliant. Check them out:

What is graphic facilitation (great scribe video!):

How to draw (focus on symbols):

How the whole program worked (a short wrap-up):

A thorough summary of the whole program:

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  1. I have always been a bad drawer, I didn’t know it was possible what some tips and a good environment could do in ourseelves letting us to begin enjoying what we draw instead of thinking it wasn’t good enough.

    It’s one of those skills you can use everywhere.

    I think It’s been one of the most useful training courses I have ever been in and I keep practising my drawing skills everyday.

    Really thankful!!

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