A FEW weeks ago, I was at the Connect Savannah office having a conversation about the possibility of having my work featured in the newspaper.
Some of you may recognize my work as a Graphic Recorder — I take conversations and ideas from live meetings and events and turn them into engaging, visual, hand-drawn graphics that summarize the key points and takeaways.
It had been on my mind for a while how cool it would be to have a column or some kind of platform on a consistent basis to highlight local stories and people in Savannah who are doing innovative civic and public work in my graphic style.
I’d call it “Magic Makers” since I’d be featuring stories using my magic markers.
Jim agreed that Connect would be a good fit for InkyBrittany graphics, and I left that day knowing it would be awhile before we’d really be able to roll this thing out because Connect was entering what is usually their peak busy time of the year in terms of festivals and events going on.
On Thursday, March 12, I began hearing from several clients that meetings and events were being cancelled all the way through May due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
When I decided to go full-time with my business as a meeting recorder and facilitator, I hadn’t considered what would happen if all live meetings and public gatherings were to be indefinitely put on hold or prohibited altogether.
The same thing was happening for everyone, including at Connect Savannah, whose content is largely based on events and gatherings and live performances.
On that same day, right as I was tiptoeing into despair about the loss of work and upcoming contracts, I received an email from Melissa Gratias (Ph.D and productivity specialist who I met in 2017 at a community meeting at Bull Street Labs) asking, “Have you ever illustrated a children’s book?”
I smiled because people ask me that a lot. I told her that I usually don’t go into the “illustration lane.” My work synthesizes complex layers of information into a simple visual way to help people understand – and is not about drawing pretty pictures.
But, because of my schedule being all-of-a-sudden very clear, I was very open to the idea.
She had a vision for creating a children’s e-book called Captain Corona & the 19 COVID Warriors that would help children understand what’s going on with the global pandemic in plain language, and most importantly, zero in on thanking and honoring all the brave people in our country who are working so hard to help us get through this.
From start to finish, with the help of editors and layout designers in her network, we put the book out in TEN DAYS. Books can take 6 months or even years to develop and produce, but she was committed to getting it out fast (keeping in line with the name of her business, Progress Not Perfection.)
The book is easy to download in PDF form at www.melissagratias.com/captaincorona.
Even though Melissa has made the book available for free, she’s encouraging people who can to donate to the United Way of the Coastal Empire’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund.
It might be thought of as a “kid’s book,” but it’s really everyone, and is a tribute to every healthcare worker, teacher, custodian, delivery person, food service and travel industry employee, first responder, and so many more.
For people who are self-employed or in creative fields, there are no instructions being passed down from our companies and bosses telling us how protocols are going to go from here on out, how to continue to work, and how our paychecks and benefits are going to be affected. There is a good bit of anxiety in that uncertainty.
But if I look at the situation through a different frame, I see that now more than ever, the power of image and the ability to communicate through visuals can bring people together in highly personalized way, as people are working remotely and having to remain distant.
While there are still so many unknown variables, I am offsetting the temptation to worry and be scared by continuing putting out work around the current events and unfolding stories without being asked or hired; collaborating with people who are also trying to create new opportunities out of roadblocks; and going ahead with plans I made months ago as much as possible (as long as they don’t involve meeting in person!).
I’m sure I’m not alone. As Captain Corona says, “We’re all in this together!”