Sketchnoter's Story: Elvia Vasconcelos @ElviaVasc

We are happy to host a new Sketchnoter's Story by Elvia Vasconcelos .



What sketchnoting has done for me

I’ll start by giving the plot away by telling you that the coolest thing that has happened to me because of sketchnoting was meeting 🎀 Roisin Murphy 🎀 on her birthday last year.

If you don’t know who Roisin is, well… that’s what google is for. Now, go and dance it away. No wait, read this first.

πŸ‘Έ Barbies and cheating - how it all started

“I am a πŸ’ͺ feminist but” (queue to listen to the guilty πŸ’ͺ feminist podcast), when I was a child I loved barbies so much I once gave a touching performance at a mall begging people to buy ‘her’ clothes because the winter was coming, she didn’t have anything to wear and she would frieze to death. And I sobbed dramatically 😭 . My mother, mortified 😳, explained to the outraged people that I was talking about my doll, that btw had plenty of clothes to wear πŸ˜….

I was such a fan that I had a subscription to the ‘Barbie Club’ πŸ™… #NoRegretsThough. One month, there was a competition: send a drawing and you can win a doll.

I want a doll.
I need a doll.
I am going to win this.

The only problem was that at 6 I was rubbish at drawing. But, my sister Laura (the prodigy child πŸ™„ ) was incredible at it. So I convinced her to make a drawing for me. I had to persuade her that this was cheating for a good cause ---> my happiness and dire need 😜. She made an A3 drawing (show off πŸ™„ ) and * we * won.

I was disappointed when I opened the post and received a ken instead of a barbie but as my other ken had a broken leg (oops) this was good news in the end. A month later this one had a broken leg too πŸ‘€ . Mmmm.

This was the first time I can remember thinking ‘this drawing thing is cool!’

Cigarettes, lipstick and crying - my visual practice

Fast forward to university, I found myself enduring 9 hours of life drawing a week. πŸ‘Ž This would have been torture enough had it not been made worse by the drawing teacher, whose reputation preceded her as being very rigid πŸ‘Ώ with her students . We got off on the wrong foot.

There was I, trying my best to draw the naked person in front of me, the teacher looking over my shoulder puffing silently until I hear a *No, No, No this is all wrong!* followed by taking the charcoal out of my hand to show me all the ways my drawing was a humongous piece of πŸ’©.. T9 hours a week.

I was reduced to tears many times, though only once in front of the whole class #CryingInMyCar. After a year of humiliation, I had to retake this class again 😧 which was part of a 2 year long course = 3 years of this.

After those very intense 3 years, Maria Helena Redondo πŸ‘©‍🎨 has by far been the most important, inspiring and life changing teacher I have ever had in my life. Through her teachings I was able to find myself in drawing and this has been at the core of my creative practice ever since. Thank you Helena 😘 .

To this day we keep in touch.

Having a voice - UX community

After I graduated and started working πŸ‘©‍πŸ’» in digital, I became interested in the world 🌍 of UX. I attended all the afterwork local events, and got particularly engaged with the UXPA UK (User Experience Professional Association). They are a volunteer run association so I put myself forward to help.

When I went to meet Raj, who was leading the volunteer programme at the time, he suggested I did sketchnoting. ‘Yes, I can do thatπŸ‘Œ’ I said. On my way out I googled ‘sketchnoting examples’ πŸ˜…. My first ever ✏️ sketchnote✍️ took me ages⏰.

I continued to develop my practice by attending all the UXPA and other Design related events I found interesting. I was surprised with the positive feedback coming from people both in person and on social media. I found that I could go to an event, not even speak to anyone and still be part of the conversation. Obviously the goal was to have real life conversations, but I felt that the sketchnoting was my way into conversations. It forced me to have a point of view and be vocal about it. It allowed me to be an active part of the UX community I followed.

As I grew more confident I started to be invited to attend conferences:

I approached Be Kaler about sketchnoting UCD2013. A last minute drop out in the speakers prompted Be to invite me to give my first ever conference talk and so I did, knees shaking + big smile. Thanks Be πŸ€— After this I iterated that talk to an introductory course on sketchnotes, which I have delivered in both my workplaces ever since.

Soon my practice extended to scribing and filming my sketchnotes.

Meeting Roisin Murphy - the greatest thing ever

I was sitting down in the kitchen lamenting to my flatmates that Roisin Murphy was giving a talk in Soho but it was obviously sold out - everything in this city has to be booked with 6 months notice bla bla bla. They suggested I put myself forward to sketchnote it πŸ€”. The next day I tweeted a little teaser to Soho House offering my sketchnoting services. And then Roisin retweeted me.

Followed by:

And some celebratory dancing:

And so I went, to sketchnote RoisinπŸ’‍♀️ on her birthdayπŸŽ‚. The evening was about πŸ’ͺfeminismπŸ’ͺ and Pop Music. #DiedAndGoneToHeaven #ItWasInAChapel #NotReligiousButFromPortugal

Sketchnoting has brought me good things, I am grateful. I am looking forward to future (collaborations and) opportunities to publish my sketchnotes and to use them as an excuse to meet awesome people.

Ps: Follow me on Sketchnotes_are_awesome

Elvia Vasconcelos


This is super-awesome!

I enjoyed so much your story, Elvia!

Thank you for sharing with us.

- Mauro

Visual Library: Marco Hitschler @irrlicht

TedX talk by Tomislav Perko captured by Pia Lorber