My Reign Is Over


For the last four years I proudly served on the board of directors for ICON (a.k.a. The Illustration Conference). And now that I'm termed out (a person can only serve two terms) I can take a few minutes to reflect on my tenure. 
Together with nine other board members we planned and produced two conferences focused on art, illustration and design. The conferences took place every other year — each having more than 400 attendees. Our latest event was in June and located in Providence, Rhode Island where we also partnered with the Rhode Island School of Design to bring in some programming and events. As an added benefit, we got a chance to see a little bit of their beautiful campus and the extraordinary talent that has gone through their program over the last several years.
My role as Treasurer and VP of Sustainability was to make some vital adjustments to ICON's business model in order to put it back on a sustainable path. With that in mind I took a long look at the financial history of the organization to see how we could bring revenue and expenses back into alignment. I was able to give my recommendations to the board and together we made some smart choices in order to preserve ICON's future.
The highlight of my time on the board, though, was serving with some of the icons of illustration, including John Hendrix, Jaime Zollars, Ellen Weinstein, Kyle Webster and many more. Working alongside them also gave me a little bit of insight into what makes different artists great. The overwhelmingly common characteristic? Passion for visual expression. They love what they do. And they sketch like crazy. This was evident even when I was auditing the organization's books. I’d be looking at a reimbursement form and would often come across a sketch! Moments like that reminded me that most artists can't help expressing themselves — even when it's totally unnecessary. And, in some cases, it's just their way of adding personality to something that was impersonal.

This exposure has inspired me to draw more, too. And to help me do that, I've recently discovered sketchnoting. It's a method of visual note-taking that helps me record my thoughts and ideas as they happen. (This blog post has some examples if you’re interested.) To practice, I like to watch a documentary with a sketchbook in hand to record the key moments in a story. In the short term this is helping me learn to draw things more quickly. In the long term, it will help me hone my visual storytelling skills — something I'll talk more about in a future blog post.