As a school girl in the 1990s, I used to keep a diligent record of my life in handwritten form, on a daily basis. By the late 1990s, computers and the Internet  arrived. Like everyone else, I migrated my love for pen-and-paper to the laptop. Eventually, in the early 2000s, I ‘grew up’, joined the blogging boom  and left my childhood pursuits behind.

Quite frankly, I never saw myself ever returning to my love for paper and its related paraphernalia. But it happened, and this was how it all started: about eight months ago, I stumbled upon Mike Rohde’s very awesome sketchnotes on his website . I was mesmerised at just how the handwritten scribbles and sketches just came together to make up cohesive, well-planned out artworks that actually aided the reading process. Just one photo here from Mr Rohde’s Instagram feed will give you a fair idea of what caught my eye:

Espresso 101 Class at @stonecreekcoffee Page 4

A photo posted by Mike Rohde (@rohdesign) on

I was hooked at first sight. As someone who frequently works with speakers and difficult, lengthy sets of documents, I wanted to be able to take notes like this because I felt that could go back to my notes over and over again, and never be bored of reading the same old thing.

Convinced that I could potentially be a ‘sketchnoter’ too, I ordered both of Rohde’s books from the Book Depository. Book Depository is awesome for difficult to find books like this and they are highly efficient. With free worldwide shipping, I received the goods in less than two weeks.

 

The books are gorgeous – and the handbook, especially, is perfect for those of us who do not have the privilege of attending Rohde’s workshops in person. Rohde convinces the reader that even if he cannot draw, as long as he can draw simple shapes and write legibly, he can start taking notes in a visual format, or, ‘sketchnoting’, as he calls it.

In the weeks that followed, I devoured Rohde’s book and I worked on every single exercise written in the Handbook.

This is a leaf from the Handbook, and one of my earliest attempts at preparing a visual dictionary based on cues provided by Rohde himself.

This is a leaf from the Handbook, and one of my earliest attempts at preparing a visual dictionary based on cues provided by Rohde himself.

Honestly, in all of my 36 years of life, I don’t think I’ve ever studied so hard on a single subject before, and there I was, pouring every attention into this new passion for visual note taking.

Eventually,  I summoned the courage to try out sketchnoting for real – first working on previously taken notes from older workshops.

One of my very first attempts at sketchnoting.

One of my very first attempts at sketchnoting.

Another early attempt at sketchnoting, this time based on notes taken during an in-house refresher course on media relations.

Another early attempt at sketchnoting, this time based on notes taken during an in-house refresher course on media relations.

Eventually, I moved on to bigger things: travel sketchnoting – because it came from the heart. Sharing here an image from my IG feed, my very first attempt at travel journaling with sketches :

A photo posted by Claire Khoo (@clairekhoo) on

And here’s another page:

A photo posted by Claire Khoo (@clairekhoo) on

In a nutshell, my return to the wonderful world of handwritten notes on lovely, non-acid paper was hastened by my discovery of Mike Rohde’s very clever way of taking notes with visual signals. And for this contribution to my well being and newfound passion for paper, art and watercolors (which I will talk about in many new posts), I am eternally grateful.

I update my Instagram on an almost daily basis now, exploring my passion for watercolors, urban sketching and travel journalling. Please do follow me @clairekhoo and drop me a note!