We had the good fortune of connecting with Karina Branson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Karina, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
You know when you see something, or try something, and it just clicks? That’s how it felt when I first saw someone graphic recording while attending graduate school at Colorado State University (CSU).

They were creating a beautiful, colorful map of a dense scientific presentation while we all watched, and I was mesmerized. I always enjoyed art – in fact I pursued a major in art for a couple of semesters before deciding I “wasn’t good enough” and focusing on environmental science communication. Seeing this person bringing together three things I loved – art, science, and communication – into an interesting and informative visual map…well, I was hooked. It just felt right.

I had a very supportive advisor at the time who encouraged me to practice, and even helped me write a grant to attend a 2-day training in San Francisco. At the same time, I was developing my facilitation skills through the Center for Public Deliberation (CPD) at CSU. When the Park Service was having a local meeting and were in need of facilitators, we pitched the idea of graphic recording and facilitation and they were intrigued…and had a budget! Starting a business just seemed like the next logical step.

From there, word spread across the university that there was a student facilitator who could understand the technical research and then DRAW it out for you while your group watched. I started getting inquiries, and one thing led to another. As more people saw the “magic” of graphic recording, more opportunities arose and my business grew. With my scientific background, my wheelhouse is working with researchers and technical content and bringing those stories to life.

Now, it’s been over a decade, I’ve gotten to collaborate with clients on six continents, and across sectors to help folks understand each other and move forward together intentionally and with clarity. And we have some fun too!

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.

As a graphic recorder and facilitator, I listen to meetings, conversations, discussions, presentations, and ideation sessions, and using hand-drawing images and words, I create a real-time map of the ideas as they’re shared. Before covid, I worked almost exclusively with markers and chalks on large 8×4 foot pieces of paper in the room with groups. Now, I typically work on my iPad using a stylus to create digital but still hand-drawn graphic maps of the content. The images can be screen shared in real-time, or shared at the end or after a virtual event for an opportunity for participants to reflect and connect with the information at a deeper level. 
I really dig working with technical and scientific clients to help them understand each other and share their stories with non-expert audiences. I get to work with really amazing people making a difference for people and/or the planet, and amplifying that work by making it visual for a greater impact is super cool.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Hm…well I’d say my backyard. We’d pick whatever’s fresh in the garden and cook up a snack and watch the chickens roaming around.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’m so appreciative of Jes Thompson, my advisor who created space for me to explore this career and always encouraged me to pursue this passion, and connected me with my first international client.

Deep thanks to Martín Carcasson at the Center for Public Deliberation for connecting me with my first paid jobs, and for his tireless work to train students to facilitate curious and deliberative conversations that matter.

I’m thankful for my parents for raising me with the belief I can do anything I want to do and be successful at it. And for dealing with all of the non-paper things I drew on as a child. It was all just honing my craft, right?

And of course so much gratitude to my partner for his support on all the levels. I love you!

Website: www.ConverSketch.com

Instagram: @ConverSketch

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/conversketch/

Twitter: @ConverSketch

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