Finding Your Visual Calling with Shilpa Srikanth

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Visual by Shilpa Srikanth

This interview is part of a series that focuses on creators who live at the intersection of writing and art. The goal is to provide inspiration and practical tips for anyone looking to add more visuals to their work.

Did you know you can make a profession out of sketchnoting? That is just one of the many things I learned from Shilpa Srikanth, creator of the Think Visuals newsletter. Shilpa has a contagious passion for creating visuals and sketchnotes around ideas worth sharing.

Below she was generous enough to answer some of my burning questions around her creative process.

Tell us about the creative projects you work on.

I practice scribing in the space of Live Graphic Recording in conferences, summits, business strategy discussions, and group processes. I’m passionate about spreading visual awareness and speak about it in various forums. I work with clients in simplifying the processing of their content visually. I am a facilitator and Organizational Development practitioner and I use visuals to create discoveries in the space of group process work. 

How long have you been visually creative?

It’s been over six years. My journey began with taking sketchnotes in conferences that I attended, making sketchnotes of articles and books that I read, and with visual journaling and reflections. Some of my visuals are featured in The Minnesota Organization Development Network (like here).

A sketchnote of this talk

I eventually discovered the space of Live Graphic Recording and around last year this time I realized that this was my calling.

This year I took the plunge of moving on from a full time HR role in a global conglomerate to my own start up SScoops Think Visuals.

What went into the decision to start including original visuals with your work? And why did you start your Think Visuals newsletter?

a) I see my visual journey as a calling, my Ikigai. When it all started, it just happened, like in a state of flow. One thing led to another and here I am with a deep sense of gratitude. I worship this sacred space of visual practice.

b) Sharing is my way of giving back. I learnt by seeing the works of some people that I have called out in the next question. I feel grateful today when people tell me that they find value in my visuals or that they feel inspired to begin their visual journey. My newsletter is a recent one. I thought why not curate my visuals theme-wise and offer it as a platter. Hence with my newsletter Think Visuals, my intent is to enable correlation between pertinent themes through visuals and also nudge my subscribers to practice the visual prompts that I share.

What tools do you like to use for creation and publishing?

Given an option, I always prefer hand drawn and I presently operate in this space more. I scan my hand drawn work and send across to my clients. I’m also comfortable with Canva. 

I am inching towards digital scribing. I’m exploring both the Surface Pro and Procreate [on iPad]. I should hopefully commence that journey soon, considering it makes it far easier to project live scribing virtually.

Is there one image you are particularly proud of?

I would like to recall with gratitude an image, where it all began. I’m deeply connected both with this image and the meaning that it conveys. It’s me the beginner behind this scribe, and this verse resonates very very deeply with me. “What you seek is seeking you”. – Rumi

Are there any creators who work at the intersection of writing and art that inspire and motivate you?

I draw inspiration from all my fellow visual practitioners, but particularly mentioning a few names here:

@tnvora @abhijitbhaduri: When I treaded on this journey, I always looked up to them like a learning school. Both of them have their unique styles and bring their own depth. Both are extremely generous with their sharing. Maybe that’s also a reason why I find a sense of fulfillment when I share my work today. Sharing is my way of giving back.

@Rob_Dimeo: I am ever grateful to Rob for introducing me to Meditation Doodles. Practicing them helps me at two levels: 1) It takes me to a state of synthesis and calmness 2) It helps me with my hand flows, strokes, and grip as I draw. Each of these are critical for hand drawn visuals.

@sherrillknezel: Her daily drawings are so so powerful. I love how she maintains her consistency along with the depth of her verses. I also feel evoked by her graphic recording work.

@aurasky_: Sathya is a recent discovery. I love the simplicity he brings in and I relate with his passion of wanting to share and spread visual awareness. I find his visual remixes powerful.

What advice would you give anyone who wants to start (or continue) adding visual creativity to their work?

I wouldn’t really call it advice, but sharing what worked for me.

a) There is no absolute way of visual creativity. So don’t wait for perfection. It’s an emergent space. Figure out your unique strength and offer that.

b) Tune in and bring awareness to your visual creations as you are working on them. You will find it meditative, healing, uplifting and enriching.

c) Keep practicing to get better and better.

d) There’s no harm in sharing. Through sharing, you experience a sense of belonging with the larger visual community and the ecosystem beyond. Through sharing, you are letting new opportunities emerge.

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