Sketchnoters' Stories - "Topics, Style and Friends": Katharina TheisBröhl

Today's story is from Katharina TheisBröhl


Topics, Style and Friends


What is it what matters in your life? Do what you do with passion and with heart! I tried to follow this rule from my childhood on, first as a scientist and today as a Physics Professor. Singing is another passion of mine. To be part of an outstanding international chorus project,I spend one Sunday a month and travel three hours to the Netherlands early in the morning. Singing and science, this is what moves me.


So, how did the sketchnotes came into the game? I was always a very visual type and already included a lot of visual elements in my lecture notes and scientific talks. But I felt drawing by myself to be too hard for me. I tried it once, actually not knowing that I was already doing a sketchnote. When planning a physics show in a pub, I visualized my experiments and arranged them in a flow on a page to order my mind and to find out how I could connect them. 


Science in a pub


Everything changed in summer 2015 when I received an Email from a scientist who I got to know during my sabbatical in 2014 at a research facility in the US. Rob Dimeo sent me a sketchnote based on one of my research papers.


Interfacial structure of ferrofluids


We came into discussion and quickly switched from Email to Whatsapp. During this process I showed him my first and only sketchnote. Rob liked it and encouraged me to go on and he has supported me since then.


With respect to sketchnotes, I developed quite fast after working through Mike Rohde's books. I immediately got into it with a lot of effort. It was amazing how much I loved to do it! Part of the enjoyment came from the really nice and supportive comments I got from Rob and others on social media.




In the beginning, I tried a lot just on paper later I started using my ipad. 


With respect to topics, I have seen my main point in use of sketchnotes for my teaching. So I made sketchnotes for several topics in physics to give the students a summary. Momentarliy, I sketchnote the lecture notes of my Solar Energy Lecture.


Senza titolo

Characteristic curve 

 But if there is enough time, I also sketchnote recipes.


Quinoa Party Salad


And I use it for visualizing choreography, emotions, instructions by coaches or contest results for my choruses


Singing Smart
and for visualizing examination results.


Physics Examination Results


I sketchnoted a childrens song, planned my Christmas dinners with a doodle,


Weihnachten 2015


did travel planning, visualized my research results, summarized research papers, etc. I also made a sketchnote on the use of a special type of tea pot, which was found by the company on social media and is now used on their sites.


Shu Yao tea to go


I found that sketchnotes have a great effect for simplifying content and can clear your mind. I also use sketchnotes for any kind of meetings, talkes, discussions, thesis colloquia, etc. I always take notes in sketchnotes form. 


Verfahrenstechnischer Tag


Actually, I should also mention my style. I like Modern Art a lot. At one point, my sketchnotes became influenced by the artist A.R. Penck,and later on also by Niki de St Phalle. I also like the graphical recordings by Melinda Walker (onesquigglyline). Therefore some of my sketchnotes are influenced by her style as well.


Travel to India


This basically is my story on sketchnotes. It is, however, also a story on friendship. I got to know several sketchnoters in person. I am in continuous discussions with Rob, Diana Meier-Soriat, Sandra Martin and Catharine Mi-Sook in a Whatsapp group with the five of us. It is a big advantage and help for all of us, as we often share and discuss our work and answer questions about material, pens, apps etc. These new friends completely changed my life. Sketchnoting changed my life, as it keeps me very busy and I am now addicted to something which I never was before. I enjoy meeting people and network in the VIZTHINK group in Hamburg and hope to meet Melinda this summer. So, make sure to meet me in case I visit your town one day. It will be fun! 


Katharina Theis-Bröhl
Twitter: @theiskbt
Instagram: @ktb_visual
Flickr: theiskbt


A lovely story!

Thank you very much for sharing with us, Katharina!

- Mauro

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