Paying attention

Imagine you’re going on a journey, leaving from your front door and heading out to a supermarket, one that you haven't been to before. Now imagine you’re making the journey in a world that doesn’t rely on visual communication. No google maps, no satnav, no road signs, no black and white striped crossing, no red and green traffic lights, no shop sign, no big orange sales stickers showing you where the bargains are, no pictures of food on the packets, no logos… you get my point.


The world would be much harder to navigate without all of the visual clues we rely on. Visual clues that we usually don’t pay that much conscious attention to at all.

It’s not our fault, it can be hard to focus when we’re busy. Our minds are cluttered, our thoughts are turned inwards trying to work through the muddle, sometimes our conscious mind stops engaging entirely and we operate on auto pilot not really aware of our surroundings at all.


So it’s understandable that we don’t always pay attention to all of the visual communication we're seeing and using out there in the world.

But we do communicate visually all of the time by using colour, shape, scale, pictures and text in different ways. Start building your visual muscle memory, being conscious of your visual brain. How? The best place to start is by paying closer attention to what you see around you every day. 

This is an extract from Cara's upcoming book Draw a Better Business™. If you enjoyed this little read, let us know by clicking the "like" below. If you want to be the first to hear when Cara's book is out, you can sign up to our watchlist.

Or, if you want to learn more about working visually, have a look at our online courses

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Taking the brave step

Last week it was World Book Day, and this year it coincided with a particularly timely email landing in my inbox. The email was from my publisher and it seemed innocent enough. It said something along the lines of, "when will you have the final manuscript to me?".


Now those of you who have written a book will back me up here, writing a book can be hard going. It's a big old task, and one that for someone who is a bit of an introvert, can feel a bit like walking onto a stage, naked and vulnerable to the view of an unseen audience.

But, I do want the book finished.


I want to get some of the thoughts that have been rattling around my head for years, out of my head and into the world. I want to share the lessons I've learned about working visually in business with anyone, and everyone, who might glean a useful nugget they can apply in their own business. I mean that is why I do what I do! I want the world to draw more and get all the benefits of working visually. So as exposing as it all is, I knew I needed to an actual deadline.

So I was brave. 

"The end of March", I replied. Just over 4 weeks. It feels like a huge step.

A colossal commitment, both terrifying and overwhelming, which of course got me thinking...about bravery.

Today (5th March) our free online course, Draw More Boot Camp, opens its virtual doors again to welcome a new group of students. I launched the boot camp as a safe first stepping stone for all the people out there who think they "can't draw", and who know that this is holding them back from getting the benefits of being more visual in their work, whatever business they're in. 

For some people the boot camp takes a great deal of bravery to enter in to, but I ask them to put their trust in me. Trust me to help them start a journey of rediscovering their innate creative, visual selves.

In the last few months almost 250 people have been brave and signed up to the boot camp. To me that's a big deal. I've seen the results, and I know that the bravery pays off tenfold as people see just how far that first step takes them.

So for the next 4 weeks I'm going to keep all the brave boot campers in mind. I'm going to commit. I'll drag my chair and my laptop up onto that scary stage and get this book finished.

Wish me luck.

Cara works with individuals and businesses helping them to get the benefits of working more visually, and is author of the upcoming book Draw a Better Business. If you want to be the first to hear when Cara's book is out, you can sign up to our waiting list.

Or, if you want to know more about our online courses, follow this link

If you enjoyed this read, let us know by clicking the "like" below, and if you know a visual thinker who will appreciate this post, share it forward.

Why creatives need side gigs

I love having a creative business. 

The fact that I dreamt about it for a really long time while I was working as a manager [read my blog about that heremakes it especially pleasing to know that I'm getting paid to be a creative and draw for a living. I am literally living my dream.

So imagine my surprise, when I realised that it wasn't enough.

How could it be that I was spending all day being creative, but actually find myself feeling creatively hemmed in? The want of another creative outlet was starting to affect my creative mojo in the business I loved and had dreamed of. How could I know that after years of wishing I had more creative time that I was actually wishing for the wrong thing!

I realise now that what I wanted wasn't just 'creative time'. No, it's not that simple. What I wanted was actually:

1. to have a creative business - to spend my working day being creative and getting paid for it

2. creative time

Now, you might think that getting 1. would automatically give me 2. I know I did. In fact for the first few years I was so busy doing 1. that I didn't notice that being paid to create content for other people didn't really fulfill my need for 2.

Don't get me wrong. I love my business. I love the work I get to do with clients. It's varied, interesting and keeps a big chunk of my creative brain very happily occupied. But there's that other bit. The bit of my brain that wants to do stuff my clients just aren't going to want, the bit that wants to create without a defined end in mind. The bit that wants to smudge things...

...that's when I realised I needed a side gig. A side gig can be huge or tiny. Regular or random. It doesn't really matter. Just something that is purposeful and gets your creative juices flowing without being curtailed by someone else's agenda. 

So I jumped in feet first. My first side gig was to set up a whole other business; Patternbooth.

I know right?  *slow eye roll.


Yes, at first it fed my creative need. I designed stuff, I figured out how to make stuff, all the things I love...I even started getting national press, but before long, it started to build up into something that didn't feel that different to my main business. Lots of work and not a lot of unboundaried creative time.

Since then I've realised my side gigs don't need to be as big, in fact they don't need to be gigs at all. Now I get my extra creative kicks in a much more modest way. Not regular enough to be a hobby, not income generating enough to be a gig. Let's call it a Gibby.

I indulge myself in Gibbies as and when I need them. They satisfy that side of my creativity that likes a brief but doesn't like rules and deadlines, and without getting in the way of the creativity that I need, to actually pay the bills.

My last Gibby was at Christmas [a perfect time for a bit of festive marker pen indulgence I must say]. I got a lot of pleasure from making this theatre for my nieces, and I fulfilled my need for extra curricular creativity for a few weeks...

Theatre1web.jpg what's next?


Cara works with individuals and businesses helping them to get the benefits of working more visually, and is author of the upcoming book Draw a Better Business. If you want to find out more about working visually in meetings join our online course Be a Visual Facilitator to learn the skills you need. If you want to talk through a project we can help you with get in touch.

If you enjoyed this read, let us know by clicking the "like" below, and if you know a visual thinker who will appreciate this post, share it forward.





Working visually in traditional workplaces

Hi, I'm Natasha. Although you haven't heard from me on the blog before, I'm the other half of Graphic Change, and I'm a project manager by trade. For many years now, I’ve worked creatively and visually to deliver projects and change in companies. I’ve seen for myself how a workforce can both have more fun at work but also be more engaged, take more responsibility and be more productive by working more creatively together.

When I talk to people about this, they say things like, “but our work is very serious/dry/logical. I can’t see this working”, or, “I work with very senior/logical/serious people. There’s no way they’re going to respond well to me working more creatively with them.” So I tell them this story…


Before I ran a visual workshop with the Directors of my last workplace, I knew they had mostly been in ‘dry’ meetings, with lots of reading and wordy presentations. That’s what grown-ups do, right? So I prepared them to open their minds to a new way of working, and laid out explicit rules that effectively made me the boss of them…for a brief morning session at least. I created a game of Top Trumps with the list of projects on our wishlist that year and we spent the morning playing the game. We came out with an agreed project portfolio for the year that reflected our 5-year strategy. In 2.5 hours.


At the time I ran the strategy workshop with them, our management team did parallel work with a well-known 3rd party consultancy. It took us over 3 (not fun) days with the consultancy (can you imagine the cost of that in people’s time alone?) to come out with a couple of big spreadsheets. So what happened next? The Directors abandoned the 3rd party work and just adopted my creative approach…it was simpler, it spoke to people, it was memorable and it got the job done. Painlessly. We did it annually then.

I don’t know if I’ll ever see such a side-by-side comparison of creative vs. traditional ways of working again in my career. But it proved what I already suspected from my experience: working visually engages people, it helps them focus, it promotes creativity in idea-generating and problem-solving, it makes meetings more productive and enjoyable and it makes communications clearer. It really doesn’t matter how senior, logical or serious people are…there is something about working visually, standing up, laying things out, voting for things with stickers, that engages everyone on many levels.


Now I suspect you’re thinking that this may have worked in the fluffy kind of workplaces I worked in, but it would never fly in yours. Well, here’s the interesting part…

I worked in highly regulated European banking and financial services environments. Mostly with IT changes. Never with much of a budget or many people (don’t believe everything you’ve heard about banks…). So believe me when I tell you, if I can prove to a bunch of bankers (literally) that working more visually is not only more fun, but delivers better results, then you can do it in your working environment, too!

Graphic Change is a visual thinking studio that works with individuals and businesses helping them to get the benefits of working visually. If you want to find out more about working visually in meetings join our online course Be a Visual Facilitator to learn the skills you need, or if you want to chat through at possible project, get in touch.

If you enjoyed this read, let us know by clicking 'like' below, and if you know someone who will appreciate this post, share it forward.