TEDxCanberra – Gavin Blake – TEDx Graphic Designer, Scribe

In Producing by Mark Sylvester


The Hack: Scribe your event from a live stream to save travel expenses

Gavin Blake is a visual scribe, a graphic illustrator, and a significant value-add to over 50 TEDx events around the world. His ability to synthesize a talk, in real time, and convert the ideas into an image is impressive. He’s been doing this work for 17 years when he started scribing floor-to-ceiling whiteboards at Ernst and Young.

We were introduced to Gavin by the lovely folks at TEDxCanberra and soon learned he’s recently worked with TEDxSydney, and if you follow him on Twitter, you can keep track of where he’s at on any given weekend.

He’s figured out a workflow that lets him stay at his home in Australia, and listen to live streams of TEDx events. He draws what he hears, passes the image off to his ink and painter collaborator, who then gives it to someone on the team who pushes the image out to social media. The TEDx speaker then has a published image that reflects their talk within 30-minutes of them finishing. His work has boosted lives stream participation by calling attention to the talks through innovative visuals.

Photo: TEDActive2013 La Quinta California

Turn on your empathy and cope.” Gavin Blake, TEDx Scribe

The Lightning Round

  • Tell us a bit about your background and your TEDx origin story.

    He started scribing 17 years ago for Ernst and Young. He loves working with Knowledge Workers. His first TEDx was in 2010.

  • How many TEDx events have you worked with or produced?

    He’s worked on over 50 TEDx events, with the farthest being TEDxDaraSalam in 2011.

  • What makes your TEDx unique?

    Having Gavin work on a TEDx makes it unique as it gives a boost to the social media efforts of the local team. Gavin can create, color and publish the images within 30-minutes after a talk has concluded.

  • What’s your Superpower?

    Listening, Collaborating. Gavin says it’s all about having empathy and connecting to the content.

  • What was the biggest surprise for you while working these various events?

    When the talks get heavy, he has to work through emotions, greif, and listen intently, so as not to miss anything. Trying to manage everything at once is surprisingly difficult.

  • Every event has its challenges, what was the biggest dragon you had to overcome?

    Coping with everything at once. The technology, the tools, the subject matter, the emotions across an entire day.

  • What’s one piece of advice you have for veteran organizers? For first-timers?

    Shoot big with your sponsorships so you can do a great event. Provide as rich as experience as you can. Work to the capability of your team and volunteers.

  • What’s a TEDx event that you’d like to attend?

    TEDx in an aquarium. (Me too.)

  • The show is called Hacking the Red Circle, so what's your best hack?

    Scribe the event from a live stream to save travel. Being able to provide graphic illustration services to a TEDx without having to be there in-person save a lot of budget.

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