Lloyd Will Draw for You––But That’s Not All

Hello! Lloyd Dangle here. As you can tell from looking around, I have a keen interest in visual storytelling. I’ve never been the kind of guy who wanted to make paintings to hang on the wall above your sofa; I’ve always thought of art as a thinking tool. For twenty years that meant making cartoons or illustrations that were provocative and communicated big ideas. But now I have added a new twist––learning to use live drawing, in real time, as a group process tool––and this is where it’s become very exciting.

Clients hire me to attend their meetings and workshops and by using active listening and adopting what Allen Ginsberg called “surprise mind” capture and reflect back the content and spirit of the event as words and pictures on large charts. The live drawing is useful in the present moment because it helps increase engagement and helps people retain more of what they hear. “Seeing” the discussion unfold helps people make sense of it and make connections they might otherwise overlook. The chart itself is useful later as a memory tool. People can’t resist taking pics with their phones and, yes, you can hang it in your office or above your sofa.

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Since I begin this work in 2006, (called graphic recording, graphic facilitation, scribing, and probably a few other names) I have trained with many of the thought leaders in the practice, The Grove, Alphachimp University, and from colleagues in The International Forum of Visual Practitioners (IFVP), and I’m continually attending conferences and studying to deepen my knowledge of group processes. I’ve worked for clients in tech, finance, healthcare, consumer, academia, non-profit, and communications, and I’m always looking to partner with facilitators who would like to collaborate.

I still make comics, illustrations, videos and work in other media depending on what’s right for my client’s challenge. Whether you are planning an event or have a different type of project in mind, it’s best if you come to me early in your design process so that I can share what I know and help you use these tools effectively. If what you’re looking for is something I don’t do, like medical illustration or drawing super-realistic superheroes, I’ll tell you and maybe be able to point you in the right direction.

Thanks for visiting!

Pattern (above) by Squidfingers

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Open Space Technology



Here are some sketch notes from a three-day Open Space Technology facilitator training I just did with Lisa Heft in San Francisco. Open Space is a process for holding meetings and conferences that is participant-driven and known for starting without an agenda. Particularly interesting to me is the potential for bringing visual tools into this process.

Lisa’s great and I would highly recommend her workshops.

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New Project: Business Model Generation



Here are some images I created last week in Toronto for Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Workshop and Masterclass. His groundbreaking, highly-visual method is the basis of the popular book, Business Model Generation.

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Diagrammatic Writings of an Asylum Patient



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Here’s an image from the book On the Writing of the Insane (1870) by G. Mackenzie Bacon, medical superintendent at an asylum near Cambridge, England. Surprisingly similar to what I do for a living. And I’m a little crazy.

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Lynda Barry: The Unthinkable Mind



The brilliant cartoonist, and big inspiration for me since my humble beginnings, Lynda Barry, is teaching a course at the University of Wisconsin called, The Unthinkable Mind. It’s a deep dive into the connection between neuroscience the act of making marks on paper. It’s fascinating. She posts her class assignments and all sorts of goodies on her tumblr. I’ve been lurking there quite a bit and I recommend that you check it out.

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Lynda Barry makes yellow legal pad paper look very inviting.

 

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Five Rules for any Company that Wants to Make an RSA-style Video



So your company wants to make one of those RSA style videos you’ve seen on YouTube and loved so much. You’ve got to hand it to the people at RSA, they really hit on something cool when they started this hand-drawn whiteboard animation phenomenon. People were craving the low-tech human touch for communicating ideas and RSA was there with the perfect concept. A disembodied hand magically draws cartoons while a voice lectures you, all at the privacy of your desktop.

 

The Daniel Pink RSA video has 8,400,000 views on YouTube

I have enjoyed the benefit of the popularity of whiteboard animation and have done I think ten of them now, I’ve sort of lost count. Not for the real RSA company but, you know, knockoffs in my own style. The results have ranged from great to not-so-great, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned, so that you don’t end up disappointed with the results when you embark on your own. Here are the elements you should have in place if you want to make an RSA knockoff and have it turn out great:

1. Have a good story

Don’t think that the magic of whiteboard animation will turn mind-numbingly dull material into compelling video. It won’t. Watch the RSA videos again. They are so great because the stories are great.

Come up with an engaging tale that can be told by a single narrator. It could be worthwhile to hire a professional writer to whip your content into shape. I offer, actually sort of demand, to be involved in script revision now whenever I work on a video because I’ve seen how they turn out when the words don’t get the love they need.

Another thing: fifteen minutes of whiteboard animation does not a good video make. The maximum duration is about five minutes. After that fatigue sets in and your suffering viewer loses the message of your video.

2. Use Detailed Storyboards

Even though they look spontaneous, these videos are anything but. All of the imagery is drawn and plotted out beforehand in a tight storyboard. You, as the client, want to know what the artist has in mind so you can make revisions. For a three-minute video I usually plan for a week of storyboard revisions before filming.  Once the storyboard is nailed down to everyone’s liking the artist and videographers will use it as a bible for the filming. Don’t turn on the camera without it.

The storyboard becomes your bible

3. Have a Quality Voiceover

Again, before you try to do it yourself, remember there’s a reason why there are professional voice actors and recording studios. Your audience is used to hearing the polished voiceovers of TV commercials and movie trailers, and your CEO reading a tedious monologue is a cue that it’s time to fall asleep. If you must record it yourself at least be sure to record clean audio, without a dog barking in the background.

4. Be Sure to Use Good Lighting

Lighting is the most important thing in shooting one of these videos. If you’ve seen one with harsh shadows all over the whiteboard you know what I mean. Lighting is best left to people who light things every day. If you’re standing around with some cheap clip-on lights for the first time, trying to get them aimed properly, I’m worried about your results.

5. Have a Pro in the Cutting Room

Once the shoot is done you need to have a professional edit the video. A pro will make it look seamless and beautiful, timed perfectly with the audio. Your brother-in-law will make it look like a hack job. In post production a lot of enhancements and tricky animated effects can be added. This is where RSA makes a lot of the magic happen, in fact my videographer friends say that RSA must spend weeks in post production making their videos seem so simple and appealing.

To many of you these tips will seem obvious. Hire people who do this for a living to get the best results. But for others who see the RSA style video as a cheap and dirty way to turn a boring speech into something hip and memorable, please think again. The commitment–and cost–may be more than you planned for.

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