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FEB18 Member in the Spotlight: Martine Vanremoortele

Your name, business name, title and location:

Martine Vanremoortele / Visual Harvesting / Graphic Facilitator – Process Designer / Antwerp, Belgium

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How long have you been an IFVP member?

I’m a member since 2011.
How many IFVP conferences have you attended?
My first one was Hawaii (2011) and since then I’ve been to Pittsburgh (2012), New York (2013), Berlin (2014), Washington (2016). I missed the ones in Austin and Decatur, so that means 5 conferences and I plan to participate this year in Denmark.
How many years as a visual practitioner?
I started my business early 2010, so, that’s almost 8 years and I don’t regret it.
How did you come to the field of visual practice?
I love books and order regularly via Amazon. When you order, they send messages like "you brought X, maybe you’re interested in Y (I unsubscribed for these messages… this became too expensive!)." But, somewhere in 2006 I got a mail, and intrigued by the title, bought Mapping Your Inner Space by Nancy Margulies. I was fascinated and started to look where I could learn this…at that time the field hardly existed in Europe. I came in contact with Christina Merkley from Shift-it Coach and went to Victoria BC for a training. Then, I came home and started my own business.

Share an extraordinary experience you’ve had as a visual practitioner (it can be funny, inspiring, anecdotal, impactful, someone you admire you got to record, whatever you consider to be extraordinary) share a photo if you have one

I worked in a venue where the floor was sticky because of a chemical cleaning that went wrong the day before. Imagine working on the wall when your feet are almost glued to the floor. I traveled to Dubai in 2012, where I prepared a group of 12 to record the sessions in a big conference about education. Recording was done in English and Arabic. It was the first time I saw GR in Arabic. They are still using GR in their work. There was Rainer Nõlvaks wonderful story of the start of World Clean Up day - ‘Let’s do it’ which moved me into tears. The humbling experience of teaching social workers and NGO volunteers in Sudan to use drawing in their work; and graphic recording on giant letters. So many stories to share. Why not have a drink together and share stories at the next conference!
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What would like to see from the IFVP in the next 12 months?
I would like to see IFVP focus on benefits of graphic recording; graphic facilitation and drawing for business and community results. And how we as practitioners can innovate the way we are working and deliver the best value. It would be good to have some discussions about the elements of great graphic recording/facilitation work. Sometimes it feel the focus is too much on the fun part of it (which there is, but that’s not the core message). This makes me think about the button I see popping up on social media "I love my job and I get paid for it." I believe this isn’t the kind of messages we need to communicate.

What’s on your bookshelf? Which of the many books published by visual practitioners is your favorite?

I really have a lot of books, I like to collect them and also to share with the participants of my workshops & trainings. It’s hard to pick a favorite, because it depends on what you’re looking for. I’ve been reading a lot in Drawn Together through Visual Practice. I love the variety of insights every chapter provides.
What is the best piece of advice you received from another visual practitioner? 
The best piece of advice for my work came from the principles of improv theatre. These are a kind of mantra when I work:
  • Everything is a gift
  • Make everyone else look good/ Making your partner look good
  • Be changed by what is said and what happens.
  • Co-create a shared “agenda.”
  • Mistakes are invitations
  • Keep the energy going.
  • Serve the good of the whole.
  • Be average (don’t try to be the star of the event)
  • Genuinely listening
Also, I still remember something Peter Durand told me while talking about the requests for free work. He advised to decide at the start of the year a budget you want to spend on good causes, charity, community work…It could be 10% of your turnover of whatever budget you want. Then you do graphic recording or related work, you apply your fees to yourself/budget and you can say YES to those requests until the budget is reached for the year. This helps to set clear boundaries.

Share a piece of your work with us and include a description. 

I'm sharing the picture of the fish bowl… a technique used a lot in participation processes. At first I didn’t understand why the facilitator wanted to use my drawing of a fish bowl to add post-its until the bowl was full and in order to have new one’s in, some others had to get out. It's a great way of prioritizing. Some metaphors are recurring, like the director, and some are signs of the time ie. the combination of technology and humanity.
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How to connect with Martine Vanremoortele:  
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