When Marcel and I founded the VizConf conference series back in 2018, we had a vision to bring together the visual thinking community in Australia. We’d both attended big conferences in the USA and Europe, and believed that the timing was right—and the community was ready—to have a conference of its own. We knew there was plenty of activity and interest, and figured if we provided the space and gave a call-out for interest, people would come.

And it turns out we were right! Marcel and I tapped into our respective professional networks at Sketch Group and Visual Friends, and a community of volunteers emerged to help make VizConf a wonderful, inspiring, experience for everyone involved. We flew out some incredible international speakers and showcased the best local talent available, and we supplemented these presentations with less formal Open Space learning sessions, formal workshops in the lead-up to the day, and a lively pop-up store selling the popular but notoriously difficult to obtain Neuland markers from Graphic Gear. Attendees came all over Australia, and a handful of dedicated folks even showed up from New Zealand and Taiwan!

Attendees at VizConf 2019 pay attention to the opening keynote presentation

Running a conference every year is hard work though, especially when it’s in addition to running a business. And with both of us having young families, we reached a point where the energy to continue was starting to waver. When CoVid hit in March 2020, it made it easier for us to just put VizConf on ice.

However, in the meantime, Graphic Recorders Australia has grown from strength to strength. The GRA is a registered not-for-profit organisation with a formally elected committee, a Code of Ethics, a professional online resource for members, and a mantra to support the growth and quality of the Graphic Recording community in Australia.

The GRA is the perfect home for VizConf to live. The fact that I happen to also be the Treasurer means that the handover of assets like the VizConf website, mailing list, social media accounts and the like will be as smooth as possible. And it also means that I get to stay involved, albeit without the same degree of responsibility.

So… what does that look like in these COVID days? The answer for the moment is, we’re not entirely sure. But we’d love your help to work it out. Our current thinking is to run either a hybrid or virtual event later in the year (probably November), depending on what the lay of the land is closer to the time.

Keynote speakers at the inaugural VizConf in 2018: Jessamy Gee and Sunny Brown, with organisers Matthew Magain and Marcel Van Hove, and facilitator Michelle Walker

We would also love to know if any of you might like to be involved in shaping, organising and running this event. You do not have to be on the GRA Committee or even a GRA member to be involved. All you need is a commitment to creating a kick-arse event with a bunch of awesome peeps.

Let us know if you’re keen by commenting below, emailing hello@graphicrecorders.org.au, or reaching out to Jessamy or Matt directly.

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