If you were one of the 1,400 attendees at the recent Serious Business conference in New Orleans, you just may have taken a seat next to another attendee at the Orpheum Theater who was taking some pretty spectacular notes.
For the past few years, the conference’s organizers Debra Neill Baker and Carol Augusto, have commissioned The Sketch Effect to capture Serious Business’ stand-out business ideas in a visual format that can be shared with attendees after the conference. Salon Today recently caught up with William Warren, who founded The Sketch Effect in 2013, to learn more about how these unique artists work.
With a mission of elevating ideas through remarkable visual communication, Warren and his team of artists strive to make their clients’ ideas understandable, memorable and sharable.
“We do this in any type of environment where people are sharing big ideas,” Warren says. “That can be a conference like Serious Business which has mainstage speakers and breakout sessions, or a corporate board meeting or marketing strategy session. We sketched for companies including Delta Airlines, Home Depot and Chik-Fil-A.”
While The Sketch Effect team immersed themselves into the Serious Business audience and sketched their representations of the presentations in 8X11” sketchbooks, they often become an integral part of the presentation, sketching on large pieces of foam core board on the stage with the presenter or off to one side.
To capture the essence of a speaker’s presentation, Warren says the artists use active listening to identify a speaker’s key points. “We’ve really trained to immerse ourselves in the content we are hearing, filter out the fluff and identify the valuable gems of ideas—you learn a speaker will often repeat the key message or emphasize it with a quote of what he or she is saying on the screen,” Warren says. “While we will go back and do some greyscale shading or watercolor afterward, but for the most part we are capture the information live in the moment.”
With five full-time people in Atlanta and network artists in Nashville and Los Angeles, Warren says all of his team members have some kind of art background. “Two of us have an illustration background, one is a graphic designer and we have an artist who has more of a graffiti influence and another that has kind of a children’s book kind of style,” he says.
Luckily for the team, if an artist makes a mistake in the sketch, they often can fix it in the digitized format before it is shared with conference attendees. The growth of social media has played a role in growing the small company’s business as often speakers and attendees love to share the visual sketches in social posts.
Warren believes The Sketch Effect have become so popular because everyone is a type of visual learner. “For us, art is the package but what we capturing is accurate content, getting the main ideas down on paper.”