Comics as a Way of Thinking for Living Labs


Tuesday, 7th September, 15:30 -17:00 CEST


Participants will learn strategies for using comics to enhance our way of seeing and experiencing the world and as related to living labs.


Although comics are generally a two-dimensional medium, they have the potential to stimulate multiple senses and coax the imagination in ways than are possible with text-focused approaches to storytelling. They also may be used to convey complex concepts and to illustrate multiple perspectives at the same time. This phenomenon is possible because unlike strictly linear narratives, comics permit one to see both the individual moments and the entire sequence illustrated within the space of the page.

Contrary to the association with children at play, comics can actually demonstrate a sophisticated use of visual language that can illuminate relationships and between seemingly unrelated concepts. The skillful juxtaposition of words and images, and the sequencing/timing of spatial elements, used by comic artists, are strategies that encourage readers to be natural inquisitors and thus, better “see-ers” of the world.


This workshop will explore comics as a unique and robust communication form, with an emphasis on understanding comics by making them, and exploring the processes of drawing and sketch-noting. Although we will spend much of the time making, prior drawing experience is not required.


The workshop is meant to provide a creative space to play and explore the multiplicity of possibilities that emerge when we work in the bilingual fashion that comics facilitate. The seminar may serve as a springboard to develop new ways of seeing to incorporate visual practices gleaned from comics into living lab work. Participants will learn strategies for using visual literacy to enhance our way of seeing and experiencing the world. I want to give participants a first-hand understanding of what the form of comics can do for the Living Lab professional practice, and how much more capable they are at visual communication than they realized.



The general flow would be to introduce the importance of being better ‘See’ers” in our living lab work(10 minutes) – and then a discussion of how visual literacy can help to unpack complex concepts and ideas, such as those encountered with living lab work ( 5 minutes) . There would be series drawing, sketch-noting and sharing activities (individual and group; (25 minutes) would help to unlock fears and insecurities about drawing ( moving beyond the “I can’t draw” refrain to be more open to finding new ways of documenting what you see and hear in the world of living labs. It is important for all living lab practitioners to remember that play really matters as it encourages inventiveness, curiosity and rigor in academic and professional work.  Next a series of collaborative activities (three-person exercises) in which small groups build on the use of words and quick sketches to create meaning (25 minutes). Selected from the groups are discussed, and then the workshop would conclude with previous work and how comics and sketchnotes may be used  in the context of facilitation of using the real world as a living laboratory for innovation and engagement. 

Effective communication across functional boundaries, as is required in most living lab work, is often a challenge. difficult. It is important to rethink how motivation operates in a connected world, and how visual literacy can alter current knowledge and create new knowledge, despite obstacles such as scale, time, and proximity.

The mix of using words and pictures ( a simple form of comics) is a dynamic tool for notetaking and retention of knowledge, and comics let you say things and record things that you couldn’t in another form, while allowing you to learn things about yourself along the way. The process of drawing and sketch-noting can help to unlock understanding as increased interactivity (two-way learning) encourages the borrowing of ideas and solutions and the notion that what a learner performs collaboratively or with assistance can later be performed independently.


This workshop is for everyone who is open to learning how to use words and images in support the facilitation, research and communication of living labs-related practice.