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Spontaneity in Graphic Recording

An Interview with Christopher Henke

Christopher Henke shares a look into his work, his thoughts about the influence of technology in graphic recording and advice for beginners.

(Sketchnote created using Concepts during a “Barcamp”)

“Graphic recording involves more than just visualizing information. It also takes courage to stand in front of a large group of people. You have to be able to quickly absorb information, abstract it and put it visually on paper while continuing to listen at the same time. You have to be able to deal with stress and develop ideas spontaneously.”


Hi Christopher, can you tell us a bit about yourself

I‘m working as a project manager and visual thinker. I love to consult others doing Design Thinking, Agile Coaching, creating and distributing content, communications, creative ideation/problem-solving and, of course, Visual Thinking. Working in a large company and as a freelance Graphic Recorder, illustrator and sketchnoter, is my perfect balance between professionalism and passion.

(Christopher develops ideas and concepts for workshops with Concepts. This is an ideation brainstorming for a 1-3 hour Sketchnote workshop.)

What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most? Do you have a favorite project?

I love every project and I don‘t regret any of them because I’ve learned something from every project. But two projects in particular come to mind. One of them was during coronavirus time when I had the chance to support a sports association struggling with a large loss of club members. I created a poster to appeal to their loyal club members by taking inspiration from their feedback. The poster served both as a thank you for the club members and as a reminder of the values, emotions and advantages of a club. The poster was, among other things, published via LinkedIn and Instagram, so that it may also convince future club members to become members.

(Poster design for the Hessischer Hockey-Verband e.V.)

In 2023, I was part of the core team organizing the Graphic Recording Summit in Offenbach, Germany. This was definitely one of the most time-consuming and strenuous projects, but also one that connected me with a great and lovely graphic recording team, and it was all about my passion – Visual Thinking and Graphic Recording. 

The team consisted of volunteer visual thinkers who organized the graphic recording summit. We compiled all the tasks in a Miro board and distributed them depending on strengths, wishes and experiences. There was a person or small team responsible for: the body and well-being, the program or Barcamp session organization, the finances and ticketing and the newsletter. 

To discuss the progress, challenges and next steps, we met very often via Zoom and sometimes in person as well. We wanted to make the event as inclusive and diverse as possible. This presented us with challenges not only in terms of the approach, pricing and choice of topic but also in terms of the location and the food. 

Meet the team here!

(Coffee Talk Sketchnote)

How has technology changed or influenced the way you approach creativity

Interestingly, my analog and digital working methods are not fundamentally different. My strength lies in quickly absorbing information, abstracting it and transforming it into a visual. These can be statements, facts, problems, solutions or, for example, metaphors. The use of digital tools, such as the iPad Pro with Concepts, helps me to stay dynamic and flexible. This means that I can change the sizes and arrangement during graphic recording, for example. During post-production, I can deliver the visual in various desired formats and could change colors. 

(Christopher is doing some live visual notetaking during an Instagram live talk.)

What are your go-to creative tools, apps, and media? How does Concepts fit into your workflow?

This is more or less an easy question ;-) Honestly, I tried Concepts by accident years ago, along with several other drawing apps. My first thought was, Concepts has far too few features and looks like a simple note-taking app. When I used it more often and even more intensely, I quickly registered two big advantages: the vector-based nature of Concepts and the Infinite Canvas.

Now, when I do remote graphic recordings, I most often use Concepts. If possible, I prepare for the graphic recordings and think about visual symbols and metaphors. These can be prepared with Concepts and stored in an Object library.

(One of Christopher’s Object libraries.)

Can you walk us through your process for creating a sketchnote? 

In contrast to Graphic Recording, you usually have more time when creating an illustration/sketchnote as it doesn't have to be ready the second the live event is finished. Therefore, there are differences in the number of process steps alone. For example, in graphic recording, there is no need to iterate because everything is created live. ​​A big advantage of visualizing the graphic recording digitally via Concepts is that you can edit it afterward to incorporate feedback. 

I have created a visual to explain my ideal process for creating a sketchnote. I differentiate between visualizing my own personal ideas and those created for customers, which require more care.

Please see the following visual flow for more details. 


(Christopher's visualized process for creating a sketchnote.)

Have your sketching abilities helped you outside of your career? If so, how?

To be honest, outside of my career, I don't use my visualization skills very consciously, rather intuitively. For example, when my kids need to think about a specific book for the next class work, I draw a book symbol on their hand during breakfast. Or I have the “honor” to visualize greeting cards for family and friends. My biggest success is that my family uses their visualization skills as well. My sons already paint much better than I do.

(Christopher’s entry for the Concepts + The Big Draw Adventure Bag Drawing Challenge.)

How do you think technology is changing the way people create?

I don't have a crystal ball, nor can I see the future. Nevertheless, I am excited to see what the future of AI brings. The topic of Generative AI concerns me from various perspectives and could quickly have a noticeable impact on all professions in visualizing and illustrating. We are actually already in the middle of it and can follow in real-time and help shape how AI takes over routine tasks and offers new possibilities. 

Will an AI soon create a graphic recording, recognize the essential aspects of the keynote and visualize them in a desired style in a customer-specific format? We shouldn't close our eyes to it and, in the best-case scenario, use it to our advantage.

(Daily doodles in Concepts for Inktober.)

What are your next steps or wishes for the future? 

Honestly, I don’t follow a master plan. I try to follow my heart and passion and continue my journey with my eyes open on the streets of possibilities. But when I think about it for a moment, the following three points come to mind:

  • Illustrate a book someday 
  • Write a book using my visual skills
  • Improve my sketching and illustration skills

I've read a few non-fiction books and novels that didn't contain any pictures or had “strange” pictures. Then I had the idea, or rather the desire, to support an author with my visualizations and to support the core message, facts, with visual metaphors.

Secondly, I dream of writing a book with my visualizations. I think there is already enough great literature on the subject of sketchnotes. So I'm still looking for a topic that I can identify with, that I can write a book about and, above all, visualize.

Last but not least, I have the desire to continue working on my visualization skills. By that, I don't necessarily mean perfection but rather trying out new things. For example, I recently tried printing with a gelatin plate. This is a very creative way of printing and requires a lot of sensitivity when applying the color to the plate. 

(An example of how a key visual for a blog article is created.)

Do you have any advice for people who might be interested in learning graphic recording?

Graphic recording involves more than just visualizing information. It also takes courage to stand in front of a large group of people. You have to be able to quickly absorb information, abstract it and put it visually on paper while continuing to listen at the same time. You have to be able to deal with stress and develop ideas spontaneously.

An idea to try this out yourself, in a secure way, is to watch an interesting TEDx video and capture it visually in real-time. When the video is finished, put your pen aside, look at your paper and ask yourself:

  • Are you satisfied with the result? 
  • Have you included the most important points? 
  • Does it have a certain structure and can you read the content? 

(An example of a graphic recording session)

See how other graphic recorders do it and find your style.

The most important thing for me was not to be put off by perfection. If you have the inner impulse to try it, then do it. It is better to regret something you have done than to have unfulfilled wishes.

Christopher Henke

Visual Communication, Sketchnotes, Illustrations & Graphic Recording

Christopher Henke is a Visual Thinker, Sketchnoter and Graphic Recorder. He translates business processes, their challenges and solutions into visuals and simple infographics. With passion and empathy, he works with his customers to develop individual and creative solutions for different use cases.

Cover Photo - Christopher's logo created in Concepts.
Interview by Annelise Sandberg


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The Sketchnoting Toolbox tutorial – Learn sketchnoting tips so you can sketch ideas and take notes visually, and use this guide to set up your Infinite Canvas and pens in Concepts.