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Eva-Lotta Lamm: “Expressing yourself visually is a powerful tool to add to your verbal communication."

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The german based Designer and Visual thinker with a mission to get everyone comfortable with sketching is coming to Sweden.

"Quick sketches are an additional layer of information to just talking that adds a lot of clarity where words alone might be too ambiguous", says Eva-Lotta Lamm.

Eva-Lotta Lamm studied Graphic Design and, from there, transitioned into Digital Design. She remembers sketching being a part of her education early on.

– From the start of university, we used drawing as a tool for ideation and first drafts of projects. Well, it was 1997 when I started studying.

But it didn’t turn out to be her form of professional expression when leaving the educational establishment. There was a period of a few years when she had her first job after university when she almost didn't sketch at all and did most things straight on the computer. 

– But I got back to sketching because it is an excellent tool for thinking through problems and visualising first ideas quickly. Especially when I am collaborating with others. 

– Quick sketches are an additional layer of information to just talking that adds a lot of clarity where words alone might be too ambiguous.

 What is the attraction of sketching that has led you on this path?

– I've always been a visual learner. I understand things better when I have a diagram or a visual overview of the totality of the problem rather than reading or listening to a linear description. I remember that already in high school, I loved when our geography teacher drew diagrams of the geology or weather system of a place on the blackboard. It just made sense to me instantly. 

Although sketches can help problems make more sense, everyone isn’t as comfortable with visualising in a professional environment as herself. Eva-Lotta thinks this has a perfectly simple explanation and that there is a cure for it – leaving the perfectionist in us at the door.

– A lot of people that are hesitant to sketch (especially in a professional environment) are scared that they can't draw well and that they might look ridiculous when sketching something, especially in front of a group. When I teach sketching workshops, one of the essential things is to give people permission that their drawings don't need to be perfect and that they don't need to look good to be effective. This takes away the anxiety and hesitation that usually stops them from even starting. And once they try and get a bit into the groove, they see that they can do more than they thought and that the process is quite fun and enjoyable on top of that.

But can anyone reeeally sketch?

– If you learnt how to write, you can definitely learn to sketch. Sketching, like writing, is a modular system, and when you know a few basic principles, you can already do a lot and build further on it with a bit of practice. 

Why do you think sketchnoting is a powerful skill that designers should look to evolve?

Expressing yourself visually is a powerful tool to add to your verbal communication. Using images and simple diagrams to explain a complex system or process – in addition to words – makes your message more robust. Usually, words and images have different strengths. Images are faster to recognise than words, so they make a page easy to scan for your eyes when you're looking for a particular piece of content.

Images, she explains, are also great for giving an overview, as you can show multiple objects and their relationships all at once. Words are great for adding detail and precision (like exact naming or measurements) and for categorising things.

– Using both together gives you the perfect mix to be clear in your thinking and communication. As a designer, a huge part of our role is communication. Our products are communicating with the end user, and of course, we as designers need to communicate with our team and stakeholders during the design process. Getting better at communicating, therefore, has a huge impact on how well we can do our job as a designer.

On May 11-12th, Eva-lotta will be visiting Stockholm, Sweden, to participate in the UX- and Service Design conference From Business to Buttons. She’ll be giving both an interactive keynote speech as well as facilitating the highly anticipated workshop “Pragmatic Sketching”.

– My talk will be an interactive talk, so everybody is invited to sketch along. My hope is that as many people as possible will join in and experience that they don't have to fear drawing and that they will be surprised by what they can already do with a little bit of guidance.

– And for everybody who wants to dive in a bit deeper, the workshop will give you a great foundation to start (or continue) your sketching journey.

Anything else you would like to add?

– I'm looking forward to meeting you all – during the conference and during the workshop. If you see me around, please do say hi :)