There's A Meeting for That

The International Forum of Visual Practitioners

The International Forum of Visual Practitioners brings together a diverse group of visual artists and professionals.

If there ever were a group to be voted “most likely to draw on a napkin,” it would be the attendees at the annual meeting of 10-year-old IFVP, which brings together a grassroots network of diverse artists, illustrators, graphic recorders, graphic facilitators, and other people who, as the group’s website describes, “use visual methods to assist learning and communication between groups and individuals.”

At IFVP 2013, held in Manhattan, “Everybody was, at some point, scratching their ideas out on paper” or, absent paper, “drawing in the air with their fingers,” said conference co-chair Dean Meyers, a New York–based visual facilitator. Communication is the group’s bread and butter, and attendees behaved accordingly, Meyers said. “There were many dinner conversations that started out with four people and grew to 16.”

IFVP is growing Attendance at this year’s meeting — the largest ever at 112 attendees — was 30 percent higher than at the 2011 meeting.

Why it’s hot With the increasing use of infographics and data-visualization techniques, as well as the greater use of storytelling in business communication, “the whole field has exploded,” Meyers said. IFVP 2013 had three tracks: Graphic Recording, Business for Visual Practitioners, and Graphic Facilitation.

Making graphic jam “Graphic jams,” which have become a conference tradition, work like this: There is a given group size, topic, and time frame, and at the sound of “Doodles!,” everyone draws. “It’s all done together,” Meyers said, “and everybody is looking over everybody else’s shoulder.”

Can you make an apple cry? This group can. A second full-group graphic jam session was dedicated to anthropomorphism. Other sessions included “How to Empower 300 People to Draw in 30 Minutes” and “Content Is King, Context Is Queen, Design Is the Pope.”

Drawing on Walls Allowed Meeting-room walls were covered with paper — and in some cases, so were the floors.

IFVP 2013 – International Forum of Visual Practitioners
July 23-26, 2013
New York Marriott Downtown

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor of Convene.