The AIGA San Diego Y Design Conference

As a San Diego graphic recorder, there is one event I love attending every year—The AIGA San Diego Y Conference. These are my people: designers, visual thinkers, illustrators. Now it its 24th year, AIGA San Diego invited 10 prolific designers to share how “Saying Yes” impacted their careers and lives.

Some of my favorites:

  • Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics creates large scale interactive artworks and articulated the emotions of awe and wonder better than anyone I’ve heard.

  • Illustrator/author/artist/activist Lisa Congdon revealed how making things played a role in her personal evolution.

  • Anouk Wipprecht  engineers dresses with robotic arms, censors, and lights. Cool to look at bu they look uncomfortable.

  • Temi Coker, one of this year’s Adobe Residents, creates spirited photography and design. At lunch he talked about how he didn’t know what he would do after his residence—work for someone else or start his own thing.

  • Kareem Collie  pondered the questions of design.

  • Roberto de Vicq shared his restaurant designs that are self-contained worlds of entertainment for customers.

  • The two founders of dkgn, high school friends, talked about making the great leap to founding their own studio and eventually becoming their own client.

  • Laura Pol, just recently left her job at Apple, shared her commitment to doing new things that scare her. (Like talking in public.)

  • Doug Powell of IBM talked about the benefits of the design thinking process embedded in a business culture.

  • Andrea Small talked about the ambiguity, doubt, and dead-ends she faced on her journey to stay true to herself.

The Y Design Conference was held in a smaller venue this year. The setting had more quiet places to sit which inspired longer conversations between attendees during breaks.

Making science accessible—TEDxSanDiego Salon at the Salk Institute

TEDxSanDiego recently hosted a salon event—Revalations: Revealing The Foundations of Life at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The goal of the event was to showcase the innovations of science that are happening right here in San Diego.

I captured each of these eight to ten minute talks on my iPad sitting in the audience. Each of these scientists explained their work so a non-scientist (that's me!) could understand the broad concepts.

The graphic recordings displayed on screens in the lobby between sessions and allowed attendees to reengage with the content.

I really learned a lot about the influence that our circadian rhythms have on our overall health.


Sketchnotes from Social Media Marketing World #smmw18

Social Media Marketing World is the ONE conference I do not miss every year. It is the best way I know how to keep up on the constant change of social media.

The constant theme: video.

Michael Stelzner addressed this in his opening keynote. Maybe we've been focused on numbers too long. But live video is what is still breaks through the algorithm.


Live video in ads.

I was drawn to Dennis Yu and Logan Young of Blizmetric's session on Facebook Ads for a $1 a day. The secret: One minute videos pushing content you already have. Here's the framework for those 1-minute videos:

  • Tell a story that illustrates a problem, no intros or bumper
  • Address a problem
  • Offer your solution
  • Call to action

Sexy content that moves the needle.

(Attention grabbing session name of Marcus Sheridan's session on content that leads to sales. VIdeo makes emotional connections with your customers. (And your competition probably isn't using video.) His seven recommendations on how to incorporate video onto your site:

  • Video in your email signature
  • Specific product video
  • Case studies
  • Team video
  • What you're not video (we're  a good match if _____ )
  • Answers to top questions

Talk to one person.

Ann Handley's sessions at Social Media Marketing World are always a breath of fresh air with her emphasis on slowing down to be a good writer. And yes, in this age of video, writing counts more than ever, because writing makes you think and trains you to be articulate. Write to one person translates into talk to one person. Make it personable.

And be sure to check out all the sketchnotes from #smmw18.


All the graphic recording images from Social Media Marketing World 2119 (#smmw18)

Anne McColl is the Chief Infodoodler at, a Southern California graphic recording boutique that provides digital and analog graphic recording + sketchnote services for events and meetings.

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The best explanation on the value of design I've ever heard and other takeaways from DesignForward San Diego 2017.

Design Forward San Diego just wrapped up its second annual event at Liberty Station. Design Forward brought together entrepreneurs, technologists, product managers, designers, business and civic leaders to inspire conversation about how design can improve the local economy, civic infrastructure, and San Diego’s quality of life. I had the pleasure of attending this event and of course sketchnoted the sessions. (To be clear, I was an attendee, not hired to cover the event.)

The best explanation on the value of design. Ever.

Phil Gilbert, General Manager of Design, IBM, was full of wit & wisdom. My biggest takeaway of the day: You could ask designers to create a vase. Or you could ask them to create the best way to enjoy flowers at home. That’s design. The right questions can define the innovation of a project.


Don Norman is rad.

This was the first time I saw Don Norman, founder of UCSD’s Design Lab in person. It’s no wonder he’s inspired designers since his days at Apple. Instead of fail fast, how about we learn fast.  

DFSD_Don Norman.png

Two pizzas won't do.

Another piece of wisdom from Phil. Never have a team that two pizzas can't feed. 


Unsilo design.

I really appreciated how non-designers were included in the audience as well as professionals across the design spectrum. Mark Cafferty spoke about the power of design in creating spaces that will help San Diego recruit the needed tech and design talent needed for a growing economy.


It's all about yes.

Kara DeFrias urged people to take chances by saying yes to opportunities. This one: “Never take a no from a person who is not qualified to give you a yes.”


The power of research.

I was fascinated with Jennifer Luce of Luce Studios talked about the deep research they did for every client and how that inspired nuggets of joy in every project.


Lessons Learned


Matt Cole


Meriah Garrett


Mizah Rahman


P.S. You can get tickets for next year at a big fat discount right now.