VISUAL THINKING – A UNIQUE PRESENTATION
By Brett Bower
You may not realise it but you, like most people, have visual thinking skills. However like most people, you just need some guidance and encouragement on how to “tap” into those skills. As an ‘old school’ animator I use this thought process to visualise movement and thereby breathe life into my art. However this thought process can also be used by all of us to better understand how things work and thereby deal with all sorts of issues and problems. Although “visual thinking” may seem a new concept to you, the fact is that you already know how to think visually. You just don’t realise it!
Let me guess… You can draw some things and not others? Without having to see it first, you can draw a basic coffee mug or a smiley face? You can easily draw these things because you have seen them a million times before and so can easily picture them in your “mind’s eye”.
However what if I asked you to draw the face of a person without any visual references? I guarantee that the first thought you will have will be “Where do I start?” However if I asked you to draw the face of an elderly man, you will immediately have some visual reference as to how your drawing could look. If I then said draw an elderly man with round lensed glasses, a long white beard and wearing a red suit, you will immediately begin to construct and modify in your “mind’s eye” a picture that you could possibly draw. Without realising it, you have just provided clarity to an abstract concept. Yes, you have just engaged in visual thinking!!
In business we use white boards to create mind-maps and make connections between concepts that may not be easily seen. By sketching our concepts on a board and working from different angles, we give clarity to our ideas and can look at our ideas from different perspectives. We all want to get better at this, so what I am going to get you first to do is pick up a 2B pencil and start scribbling without limitation…
Remember that “creativity” is a muscle and it needs to be stretched every now and then!
The art of caricature is enjoying a revival at the moment with many clients wanting a digital caricature artist at their events. Tools like the iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface allow artists to draw with ease on these devices and send the caricature wirelessly to a printer or direct to your phone. However, these new technologies do add a layer of complexity that you need to be aware of when making the decision to hire a digital caricature artist. Let’s start with your expectations, You want a cartoonist that can draw funny caricatures and is reasonably quick and you want as many people as possible drawn within a window of time. If you are going to use a digital cartoonist, you need to also consider a few more aspects like a power supply for the printer and chargers, also a wireless network allowing you to email the images. I have seen one tablet device have trouble charging running out of power midway through a recent trade show forcing the purchase of a replacement device on the day. In a nutshell; ensure that all the elements work well prior to your event. My only other little red flag is the time it takes to print to a wireless printer, allow up to two more minutes per sketch for printing. On the upside, when it works – it works well. People love receiving their caricature as a print or as a soft copy. It allows them to instantly post it on social media and brag about your event. The use of logos and hashtags adds real value to each caricature when posted online. Templates are quickly created on the spot and the images can be projected or displayed on monitors while they are created allowing a larger audience to be entertained by the cartoonist.
Speaking as an artist: I can honestly say I draw much quicker on a tablet device, particularly the iPad Pro and Wacom, as I am not worried about making a mistake with the sketch. If I do misplace a line or two, I simply undo and keep sketching away. I am a big fan of digital caricatures and the new hardware used to create them, just make sure your cartoonist is up to speed on the tech side of things before you engage an artist. Thanks for reading – Brett Bower
We work with media and event companies to produce concept sketches that clearly show the scope and creativity of a project. So far this year we have produced concepts for Samsung, Emirates and Microsoft and several others.
How to pick the right caricature artist for your next event.
I am sure you have seen the caricature artists stall at the your local show or fair. Have you ever noticed how they often seam to have the same examples of artwork on display and on the signage? Surely that guy who drew Mel Gibson and Marilyn Monroe can’t be in all those places at the same time?
It’s the same thing if you look on Google for an artist you’ll see dozens of caricature artists in your city, sadly some display other peoples work. So what can you do to ensure you get the right artist for your event? I’ve outlined a few tips below that will help you ensure you get the right scribbler for your next event.
Call the artist, have a chat on the phone and make sure they have the experience and personality required to entertain at your event. You need an artist that can entertain not just draw. Ask for a recent testimonial. Ask up front to see actual samples or photos of the artists caricatures drawn at events. There is a big difference between what is drawn in a studio over an hour compared to a 5 – 10 minute caricature.
Appropriate caricatures – There are funny caricatures and there are inappropriate sketches. The artist should be professional enough to understand the audience. You don’t want to offend your audience, so make sure you and the artist are on the same page.
How to calculate value – Most clients calculate value by asking how many caricatures an artist can draw in an hour? Can I suggest to you 8 – 10 mins per sketch is the magic number, any slower than that is too slow. I tell my clients that it also depends on the demand, I can do a great 5 minute sketch and a great 10 minute sketch if time allows. Either way there is no value in a caricature that doesn’t look like the subject.
Another trap clients fall into is asking the artist to roam around the event and draw people, relocating around a crowded room takes up valuable time and is awkward once a function has started. The cartoonist needs to be seated and have a table to work on, especially if they are drawing for 3 + hours.
See the light – Make sure the venue has a well lit area for the cartoonist to work in, I have arrived at some functions that are so dark,
you can not see the person in front of you.
Branding – Your paying the bill, so use a pre printed template with the logo on the paper, better still incorporate the service or product into the caricatures. I appeared at a Volkswagen function recently where I drew caricatures of people in Volkswagen cars. The client and the guests loved it!
Going digital – Many of my clients ask me to do digital caricatures. This is wear the caricatures are drawn on a tablet and printed on photo paper. Digital caricatures are impressive for a few reasons, firstly you can stream the action to a plasma TV or projector for a larger audience to view, making it perfect for a trade show situation. You can receive the caricature directly on your mobile device ready to upload to Facebook. Digital is all the rage, but you will need to ensure there is an available WIFI network. Another benefit is you can print the caricatures on objects like mugs and shirts after the event.
No School Like Old School – At the end of the day I love seeing ink sketches on paper. They have a certain authenticity that digital art sometimes lacks. It’s always great to see somebody create a fun caricature live in front of you.
EY – Asia Pacific Animation
EY Needed to create an engaging animation that could clearly delivery a message across a number of markets in south east Asia. Working closely with our client, we developed a cast of emotive animated characters. Their adventure was played out in a cartoon world somewhere between Charlie Brown and Dr Seuss and using an imaginary language and cool trucks. It was a great project that allowed us to be more creative than usual. Did I mention the cool trucks?
YCMA NSW got in touch and they wanted a video that wasn’t just another talking head comms piece. They wanted a fun, less formal way of communicating with their staff and volunteers around the state. The solution was a whiteboard style video, we recorded the VO in their Sydney offices and were able to shoot and edit the video with in three days of the initial phone call.
RIO TINTO – Pilbara WA
When senior leaders of Rio Tinto decided to meet at Cape Lambert WA, they needed a conference scribe to capture the concepts presented at this high level meeting. As the event was held at a remote location, I took enough equipment that allowed me to work digitally or simply with markers and flip charts. It was a hectic pace keeping up with the presentations over the two days. At the end of each day, I presented a graphic compile that reflected each presentation. The added bonus for the Rio Tinto events team, is all the cool digital clip art they now have use post the event.
Bunch Media / Carlton United Brewery – FIJI
My friends couldn’t believe I was going to Fiji with Carlton United for a conference. It sounded too good to be true….
The challenge was the stand out from the crowed at this industry event.
The sollution was to create a completely white and unbranded trade-show stand in a sea of highly polished exhibitions stands. Then find a local Fijian artist and pitch his talents against against my own. We were given half of the stand each and three hours to create a mural that reflected the specific products such as ‘Pure Blonde’ and ‘Great Northern’.
The stand was swamped with onlookers keen to watch this artistic battle of the artists. At the end of the day we agreed it was to close to call a winner, so we enjoyed a beer and reflected on all the cool art with the CUB team.
Ernst and Young – 3 Minute Engagement’s Animation
This was a second major project for EY this year. As usual we had a very tight deadline to create a three minute animated cartoon that would be rolled out across a number of countries across the Asia Pacific region.
The solution was to create a lead character that didn’t speak at all, but conveyed his ideas through emotion, expression and carefully crafted graphics. The cast included characters of various age and nationality. The project also allowed us to create some fantastic Dr. Seuss style machines that helped the cast achieve their goals.