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TED Drawing Workshop

By Chris Cheung

Thank you to all the attendees that decided to kick-off their TED with my Drawing Workshop.  

It was really fun to tie drawing (in the broad sense) with this year's theme "The Young. The Wise.  The Undiscovered".  I wanted to celebrate drawing as part of the human experience, as well as separate it from the notion that it is an 'artistic' application by demonstrating its diversity and time-less power; stuff like masterpieces, engineering drawing, cartoons, doodles, charts, diagrams, graphic novels or playbooks are just different outputs that can be achieved with it.

Many people can be self-conscious or find it embarasing to draw because 'I'm not good (enough) at it', but when you apply a broad definition, like, for example to include, doodling to visually working out a problem or scribbling a facsimille to describe something you saw that is beyond words, it simply becomes a tool to help communicate.  So, I was aiming to demystify drawing and introduce a more general appreciation for it.

Both sessions were packed with incredible people.  It was an impressive cross section, including people in medicine, entrepreneurs, technologists, members of charitable organizations, corporate executives, creatives, and many more.  Everyone was super gracious with my spin on the topic and willingly participated in the drawing 'exercises', which made it extremely dynamic and rewarding for me.  Thanks again to everyone who was there!

What is a drawing workshop without some cool tools? Above, handing out loot at the beginning of a session.

Thanks to the support of many generous partners & artists (see below), every participant received a set of incredible tools to embark on the creative journey.

Choose your weapon - some people decided to tackle the exercises digitally with their personal devices while others went traditional with pen & paper.

Experiencing markers for the first time - I chose to give Toner Gray No. 7 because I felt it was a practical color; dark enough so that it could be used in normal cases, but light enough that you could get some tonal build up. The Copic Sketch Marker also offered the Broad nib for solid strokes & the Brush nib to allowed attendees to experiment with more descriptive line weights.

This wasn't a SketchBook workshop, so I was surprised how many people busted out their devices and already had SketchBook Pro loaded! Above, checking out the Bamboo Stylus with multiple devices on-the-go .

Wireless - It was really nice to drive the presentation off an iPad and using AirPlay to project. Not only did that allow me to switch between drawing live in SketchBook Pro & a slide deck, but I could move around and engage directly with the audience. I used a Pogo Connect so I could get the pressure sensitivity and matched 3 brushes so that I was using the digital equivalent to the pen-end of the Bamboo Stylus as well as the Square-nib and Brush-nib of the Copic Sketch.

Gordon Gould happily displaying the complimentary copy of SketchBook Pro for Mac/Win he received among the workshop tools.

Hanging out with amazing people after the session. Above, some quality time with Sandy Leong & Nicoletta Lacobacci.


It was just a few weeks before TED that I decided it was a great idea to make a customized sketchbook rather than supply generic ones for the class.  I blasted out frantic emails to some of my creative friends with a rather cryptic request implying urgent need for a sketch and 'some inspiring remarks about drawing'.  Concurrently, the crew at Pacific Color Graphics totally stepped up to squeeze this job out.  In fact, the books arrived early enough that I was able to share them at another event just one week prior to TED.

Anyhow, I wanted to thank all these wonderful people for helping to put together the inspiring first 9 pages of the sketchbook and, I think, truly capturing the versatility and spirit of drawing.

"It's storytime, kids!" -Willow Dawson

"Beat the fear of the blank page." -Kyle Runciman

"I create accidents unintentionally, because I rarely have good ideas naturally." -I-Wei Huang

Click to enlarge.

"Sketches are an intimate look into the artist's imagination." -Lena Le

"Sketching allows me to interpret an unrelated idea to help me define the next big trend." -Rachel Richards

"Sketch and be a new world traveler!" -Scott Robertson

Click to enlarge.

"Sketching is problem-solving!" -Jay Shuster

"There is nothing more satisfying than accurately transferring an image from your head to the paper or screen." -Phil Noto

"Drawing is communicating." -Louis Gonzales

Click to enlarge.


I would like to express my gratitude to Wacom, Too Corporation (makers of Copic) & John Darland and Ashley Haskins from Imagination International (Copic Marker USA), Ten One Design, and Epson.


Limited time special Bamboo Stylus offer by Wacom


Reader Comments (5)

Oh the thrill of empowering others. Great job Chris, I know your enthusiasm rubbed off on every person attending. And there can be no better crowd than TED folks.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzi54241

This must have been amazing workshop. These are the kinds of things I hope one day to attend

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Kennedy

I didn't know TED had workshops like this. EVERYONE looks so happy. It is so impressive to think that Sketchbook can get involved in such a wide variety of events. I hope that one day I can participate too.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristina Lo

Looked like a very great seminar. Was it recorded? Will it be on the TED or Youtibe video channel anytime soon?

March 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTJ

It looks like it could be handful for Architect sketching?, I am wounder to buy it for my Arch studio, Where can I found more information for Architect aplications?

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFrancisco B

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