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Mike Rohde (Color - Square)

ROHDESIGN is the website of designer Mike Rohde, who writes on design, sketching, drawing, sketchnotes, technology, travel, cycling, books & coffee.
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Entries in Travel (56)


Portland Travelogue

WE'VE JUST RETURNED from a wonderful 5 day trip to Portland, Oregon, for Don Miller's Storyline Conference. During our travels, I captured a sketchnote travelogue and photos shot on my iPhone of our experiences in Portland.

Sketchnoting at The Original in PortlandVoodoo Doughnut - Voodoo DoughnutPioneer Square
Portland - Stumptown MochaPortland Light RailWooden Poster at The Original
Portland - Pioneer Square SignStumptown Coffee, PortlandOld Town Peperoni & Sausage

I've decided to post my sketchnote travelogue and selected photos here, to speak for themselves.The complete set of sketchnotes and photos are on Flickr.

Portland Sketchnote Travelogue: 01-02 Portland Sketchnote Travelogue: 03-04 Portland Sketchnote Travelogue: 05-06 Portland Sketchnote Travelogue: 07-08

Storyline Conference Sketchnotes I captured live are also on Flickr and I'll post my thoughts and sketchnotes from Storyline next week.

We can't wait to visit Portland again soon.


Post: Living a Better Life Story: Storyline Conference

The Power of Capturing Memories

I VISTED my old neighborhood on Tuesday.

Feeling the power of childhood memories flooding back has helped clarify why I'm currently so fascinated with capturing life experiences as sketchnotes.

The Fish Keg

The Fish Keg is an iconic place in my memory, a keystone of memories from my childhood days in the Rogers Park neighborhood on Chicago's North Side.

As I entered my old neighborhood, each city block, each bit of sidewalk, every old sign brought childhood memories sharply in focus. It was enlightening to see inanimate objects and places bring to mind many long-forgotten memories with such clarity.

This is why I sketchnote experiences and encourage others to do it too.

Feelings and thoughts fleeting past during an experience or an event can be captured visually, awaiting future moments to expand themselves and reawaken memories for my benefit or the benefit of others.

Consider my sketchnotes from a dinner at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California:

Chez Panisse Dinner Sketchnote

Time was invested in capturing my experience visually, but now I can look back and recall in vivid detail how the spaghetti tasted, what the environment felt like and the fun I had experiencing a dinner with my friends Kate and Kris.

In this image, those and other memories spring to life, offering a clearer recollection of that moment in time. To a degree, my experiences can communicate to complete strangers who may be curious about the Chez Panisse experience.

If there's anything that would encourage you to try sketchnoting an event or an experience, let this be the reason. Invest time in capturing what you're experiencing as multidimensional map of your thoughts and feelings so you can recall them with clarity and share those memories with others.


Washington DC Sketchnotes

Ampgreen460 new

Last week my family and I flew to Washington DC, so I could speak to the Art Director's Club of Metro Washington DC. Our family also had a chance to enjoy the city for a week.

Lately, I've been making a more conscious effort to sketchnote as much as I can, and in different ways. This felt like a great opportunity to keep myself in practice.

Back in June 2009 I captured an Alaskan cruise as sketchnotes, which were fun to do and turned out quite well.

Sketchnoting Washington DC

I took my brand new Ugmonk premium green leather journal to DC and used it to capture my week as a sketchnote travelogue on 12 pages:

Washington DC Sketchnotes 01-02
Washington DC Sketchnotes 03-04
Washington DC Sketchnotes 05-06
Washington DC Sketchnotes 07-08
Washington DC Sketchnotes 09-10
Washington DC Sketchnotes 11-12

My Travelogue Sketchnote Process

Pages were created in the morning, or in the evening when the kids were sleeping. Images were captured with my iPhone on site and added when I created the pages.

The last 2 pages of the book were created in Milwaukee, after I'd had time to reflect on the trip and capture my thoughts about our experience.

I took photos of finished pages with my iPhone camera and posted them on Twitter, just in case my journal was lost or damaged. Fortunately the journal survived the trip.

The Benefits of Travelogue Journaling

Of course, it's a little more work capturing your travels in a journal, but I believe there are real benefits to putting in the effort while experiences are fresh.

• Journaling travel provides a way to solidify the experiences you're having, and what you're thinking while in the moment. When I've skipped my journal, I find days and events blurring together or simply being forgotten.

• Journaling travel is an investment now, which you can enjoy in the future. I regularly look back at sketchnote journals of my trips and recall those enjoyable experiences. I know I'll do the same for our wonderful trip to Washington DC.

Try journaling your experience. It's fun and helps you and your friends re-experience all of the details years after the trip is over. Give it a try!


Speaking: The Art and Practice of Sketchnoting - Washington DC

Adcmw logo

On Wednesday, April 27th at 6:30, I'll be speaking to the Art Director's Club of Metropolitan Washington (ADCMW) on the Art and Practice of Sketchnoting.

I'm very excited to be sharing the story of sketchnotes, the lessons learned from them and how those lessons apply to art direction, design and life.

Thank you Carolyn Sewell and Eric Stewart for making this event happen!

Location Details:

Center for Digital Imaging Arts (CDIA), Studio C
1055 Thomas Jefferson Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20007-DC (Google Map)

Time: 6)30-8:30 ET
Non-member price: $35.00

If you're in the DC area, please join us Wednesday night!


Mike Rohde's Art and Practice of Sketchnoting - ADCMW
Art Director's Club of Metropolitan Washington (ADCMW)
ADCMW Full Bleed Magazine

Creating REWORK Slides on the Road

It was Friday, and I'd just arrived in Austin, Texas for SXSW 2010 Interactive festival.

I was enjoying the vibe, warm spring weather and seeing old friends, when I received an email from David Heinemeier Hansson of 37signals.

David was preparing a deck of slides for his talk 'Why You're Not Done Yet' set for Sunday at 11am, when he realized he could really use several new pieces of art for the presentation.

He asked if I'd be willing to knock out 3 illustrations and I said yes. Of course, I'd decided to leave my Canon flatbed scanner at home.

How in the world would I get 3 new illustrations into the 37signals Photoshop slide document?

Solving the Drawings First

First things first. I had to solve the drawing challenge before I could focus any energy on making them into slides.

David provided good descriptions of what he needed for the slides, so I started there.

Here are the 3 slides I needed to create artwork for:

1. Giving up is good
2. Restate the problem
3. You can always do less

I grabbed my Moleskine and started thinking on paper. Here are my solutions:

1. Giving up is good

On this slide, my first thought was to use typography. While sketching out the type for GIVE UP! a white flag popped in my head as a perfect, universal metaphor for giving up on something. I added it above the words:

One down.

2. Restate the problem

For this one, I thought of simple ways to get this idea across. What about (A) the words RE-STATE and PROBLEM stacked with arrows pointing to each other?

Too complex. Then I flipped the word PROBLEM backward and stacked another PROBLEM word going the right direction below (B) — simple and effective:

Two down.

3. You can always do less

The last slide graphic took a little more pondering. After letting it brew a while, an idea came to me related to resizing objects in design software.

What about the word LESS in the lower left corner of a rectangle with an arrow pointing from the upper right corner back at LESS? Yep, perfect:

The third and final piece down and out.

I sent iPhone photos of the sketches to David and he loved all 3 ideas.

Solving the Scanner Problem

But how would I get these 3 ideas from my Moleskine onto my MacBook and into the master Photoshop slide document?

That's when I thought — why not use my iPhone's camera?

I found good natural lighting and shot photos of the 3 sketches as close-up and straight-on as possible. Photos were synced to my MacBook and into iPhoto.

The iPhone's camera quality was just fine.

In Photoshop, I played with levels, contrast, brightness and sharpening to get the art to the same quality as the rest of David's presentation images, to match the scanned REWORK illustrations he was already using.

Slides Done. Ready to Rock

When the slides were done, I sent David a set of PNGs for his presentation:

David was pleased with the new art and the Saturday afternoon delivery.

Mission Accomplished

On stage Sunday morning, David's slides looked great. I loved solving the challenge creatively and technically with the limited tools I had on the road.

Next time you find yourself faced with a challenge and what seem like limited tools, revise your assumptions. Think creatively about how you can embrace limitations and use what you have to solve the problem.