Want to be a graphic recorder?

There can be few things more satisfying (in a work sense) than doing a job that makes you happy, makes other people happy and has a tangible, real time benefit to the context you're working in.

I get to draw in some amazing places around the world, (...underneath Concorde, in the ballroom at the Savoy, on the roof of the National Theatre, by an Italian lake, in a morgue...), I get to meet fascinating people and sit in super interesting meetings (mostly they're confidential so sshhhhh!). 

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Life as a graphic recorder is full of 'feel good', in fact it's such a nice job that I often get a round of applause as people wrap up their session, but it's still a relatively unknown career for most people. I think it's time that changed. If like me your dream is to earn a good living out of working creatively then it might be worth a closer look.

Would it suit me?

Everyone's different of course, but here are 5 traits that lend themselves to life as a professional graphic recorder. 

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1. You can draw

Now I spend a lot of time showing people how to work visually and get the benefits of visual thinking, even if they can't draw at all. This is not that.

To be a professional graphic recorder (as opposed to someone using visual skills in their role) there is, rightly or wrongly, an expectation that you can draw, and that the finished graphic record will both make sense and look good. So although you don't need to be in any way an artist, you do need to be able to draw identifiable objects quickly. 

2. You are mentally agile

By that I mean you're able to take in information, which may be random, unexpected or about a topic you're not expert in, and make sense of it. If you're not sure if this is you, then go and pick a random TED talk, have a listen and see if you could understand the key points. If you can then you'll probably be fine.

3. You are happy to serve

By this I mean that you're able to get pleasure from a job well done, even if you don't particularly enjoy the content. Sometimes you'll be called upon to draw opinions that may not be yours, or listen to content that you don't find interesting. Your role is not to join in the discussion, but to identify and capture key points, connections and themes, all of which helps the participants process and understand the information better.  You are there in service of clarity.

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4. You can innovate

Stuff goes wrong all. the. time. Equipment fails, agendas change without warning, and all possible human and environment variables come into play at some point.  You need to be able to think on your feet and go with the flow. Be a sapling not an oak tree.

5. You can pull off the business basics

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Most people in this field are self employed or running their own small business. The scene is evolving slightly as some corporations are hiring their own in-house graphikers, but in the main, you have to be okay with the rollercoaster that is working for yourself. So are you able to build relationships, talk about money, and have enough systems in place that you know the right image file is going to end up with the right client? You'll need to be able to deal with unpredictable cash flow (especially at the start) and still get your bills paid on time. 

How many did you have?

If you had most, or maybe even all of these traits then you might want to think about exploring something new and joining the growing global tribe of graphic recorders. 

Our awesome online course Be a Graphic Recorder teaches you all the skills you'll need to start capturing conversations brilliantly. 8 weeks of exercises and support from me, an expert in the field with over 12 years experience running a graphic recording studio. I've drawn everywhere from a muddy field to Buckingham Palace and have worked with clients like TimeWarner, Google and the NHS. 

The course is in our online Graphic Change® Academy, with content available 24/7 so you can do the exercises when it suits you, with an private group to share your work and individual tutor feedback on your work, it's a perfect place to start your career as a graphic recorder. We have students in 59 countries (and counting). To join them head to our training pages.


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.

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