I illustrated my first in-person event:
Here’s how it went

I illustrated my first in-person event:
Here’s how it went

I illustrated my first in-person event:
Here’s how it went
2560 1705 DRAWS STUDIO

Having grown up as a digital native, I’m no stranger to the virtual world. When life in the physical world screeched to a halt and businesses had to adopt remote work arrangements, adapting to a more digital life was a breeze for me. I’d been familiar with the cyberspace and its limitless potential for so long, and being behind a screen is where I’ve always been most comfortable. 

I joined Ortus Draws at the height of the pandemic, and in my first couple of months, I created live sketchnotes solely for virtual events. After having trained for weeks and illustrated countless discussions in real time, I had, in no time, grown confident in my skills. 

But now, physical events are back, and there’s an undeniable need to adapt once more. This had always been inevitable, but nothing could truly prepare me for D-day. 

I was excited, nervous, and curious. I had a million thoughts racing through my head—and even more butterflies in my stomach—as I entered the venue for my first in-person event.

Ortus Draws - In-person event

After setting up my live illustration equipment, I felt like I was underwater as I sat there, waiting for the event to begin. As executive after executive entered the room, pockets of conversation turned into noise, sounds became increasingly muffled, and a heavy, sinking feeling started to bubble in my chest.

My only silver lining was that I had this little all to myself, facing away from all the guests while I focused on my live sketchnote. I could find respite in pretending that this was just another virtual event where nobody could actually see me. Plus, I was fortunate enough to have the support of my Ortus Draws team to ease my nerves.

But when the in-person roundtable finally started, it felt as though I had broken through the surface. A wave of adrenaline rushed through me. All of a sudden, my nerves settled. I was as prepared as I could possibly be for this in-person event, and I finally felt like it. My ears, hands, and head were in lock-step, working double-time and in perfect synchronicity. From time to time, I’d feel a presence behind me, just watching me work my live sketchnote magic—but I remained unfazed. I was in the zone, and nothing was going to break my concentration.

Ortus Draws - Illustrator

The only real obstacle was the difficulty I encountered in listening to participants whenever they opted not to speak with a microphone. Curse my human ears. I would discreetly lean back and cup my ear in an attempt to make sense of the murmurs. But even then, my hand was steady. Fortunately, guests at these roundtables, virtual or in-person, always speak eloquently, so their non-amplified volume was nothing that a bit of focus couldn’t overcome.

Ortus Draws - In-person event

This in-person roundtable truly was a special experience. Meeting the guests, hearing their thoughts, and seeing their reactions—virtual doesn’t come close. Actually being with them in person at this event reintroduced the human side of the knowledge-sharing experience. To be able to shake guests’ and clients’ hands and have actual conversations with them about my work is leagues above the oohs and ahhs we’d usually get within the confines of Zoom chatboxes. Despite being in my own little corner, I felt seen, and my live sketchnote somehow felt more alive than anything I had ever made before. 

Ortus Draws - Mind map sample

At the end of the day, the reality is that in-person events are back. Although I was incredibly nervous at the onset, I found my groove, and the end-product reflected that confidence and focus. As an introvert and a creative that appreciates a private workspace, I never would have imagined that I would say this, but I thoroughly enjoyed live-illustrating my first in-person roundtable. 

I loved the feeling of connecting with people in person. Webcams and computer screens just can’t completely capture the light in people’s eyes when they take that first look at the final product. Sketchnoting is sketchnoting, whether in-person or remote, but it’s the little things like handshakes and gleaming awestruck eyes that make the work more fulfilling. 

Now, if only I could craft live illustrations at an in-person event in my pyjamas, that would be perfect. But slipping into a smart casual outfit is a small concession I’m more than willing to make, because I absolutely cannot wait for the next opportunity to live sketchnote an in-person event. 

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