Every artist needs a muse — that one source of inspiration. My inspiration is problems. There’s something motivating about being faced with a really tough problem and having to think my way out of it. This applies to my work in the learning industry. Using my eye for illustration, I can bring information to life and make a learning experience truly memorable.
In eLearning, certain kinds of problems are best solved by using graphics. On most projects, the first thing I see is a storyboard delivered by the Learning Experience Designer. When I get a storyboard, I’m not just thinking about how to make it look pretty — I’m actually approaching the content with a problem-solving mentality. Where is this learning failing to communicate clearly? Which problems can I solve with illustration?
Not just any illustration will suffice, an irrelevant graphic will only distract the learner. Graphics should assist the learner and contribute to effective eLearning. As Maurice Sendak, who illustrated Where the Wild Things Are, said ‘Illustrations have as much to say as the text. The trick is to say the same thing but in a different way.’
I apply the same problem-solving mentality when I create a diagram. A well-crafted, clear diagram can convey the steps within a process in a straightforward way. This can transform a process that previously seemed complicated to a learner and provides that coveted ‘aha moment’ that we’re always striving for. Convoluted diagrams confuse learners and bury your message under layers of text and visual noise. Simplify your diagrams by removing all unnecessary detail — you need to question every element. Why did you use that colour? Why did you use that shape? Why is that text bold? If you can’t justify why it’s there, get rid of it.
What I enjoy most about my job is coming up with creative visual solutions for client problems. Illustration takes up a big chunk of my work at Croomo and I approach it from a design perspective. I use illustration as a functional, problem-solving tool that clarifies the eLearning and contributes to a better user experience.