Doodles are more than just idle scribbles; they can distill complex ideas into useful packets of knowledge. During TED2016, artist Mia W. McNary translated 18-minute talks — on topics like what it means to be a global citizen, the psychology of introverts vs. extroverts and a prosecutor’s case for justice reform — into playful and succinct visualizations.
It all started when Mia’s brother Jim, a longtime TED attendee, sat next to a woman taking visual notes during the 2015 conference. Turns out, he was sitting next to Sunni Brown, a visualizer and a champion of using doodles for problem-solving (watch her TED Talk “Doodlers, unite!”). Her brother’s story inspired Mia to capture TED2016 in visuals herself.
Watching from Hawaii via TED Live, she started by drawing a grid of squares on a blank piece of paper. Then, without looking at the screen, she listened intently to each speaker, almost meditatively, with her pen in constant motion. Each square took only 30 seconds to complete, and she finished a section by the time each talk was through. This note taking, she says, forced her to “visualize in a vignette” each idea, blending metaphor and content into drawings that capture the right message.
Below are some of her illustrations:
Since the age of seven, visual notes have helped Mia document her life and learning experiences. But more than anything, she wants people to know that visual thinking is not just for artists, but can be used in fields such as sales, business and even therapy. In other words, doodling is for everyone.