All posts by Antonio Akrobatas

Illustrating “L’innovation de rupture pour les nuls”

What is disruptive innovation? This is the question that Benoit Sarazin answers in the short film that he just published and that he invited me to illustrate and animate.

As graphic facilitator, I strive to find the right images to help to explain complex concepts. Working with Benoit was a great experience and exercise of those skills.

First we worked together on the script, in French, since France is his main market as a consultant in disruptive innovation. We focused on storytelling and on answering questions in simple ways with concrete examples, and having a very clear structure.

Then I proposed a “storyboard” using simple sketches I could draft directly on the computer and we added those images to a slideshow with the parts of the text that corresponded. We could then test the “flow” of it.

Slide 04
To create the storyboard I did quick sketches drawing directly into a graphic tablet connected to the computer.

Benoit recorded his voice several times, until the timing, tonality and craft of the speech was good for him. He also used the support of Bénédicte Kliber, his social-media marketing consultant. Basically, whenever we had a discrepancy our default was “ask Bénédicte”!

Once the voice was ready, then I made the illustrations and set-up a Prezi presentation. Prezi is great because it let’s you do “camera movements” through a presentation and it looks quite different than a regular slideshow.

Innov rupture prezi screen
Prezi is a great presentation software and easy to program to prepare sequences of images with smooth “camera movements”.

I recorded my computer screen as I was running the presentation using Benoit’s voice, then put the voice and the video together in a video-editing system and voilà! We have a cartoon video about disruptive innovation!

Innov rupture premiere screen
Once I recorder my screen while playing the presentation, it is easy to match the voice and the sequence of images.

Collaborating with Benoit was great because of his mastering of the subject matter, he really knows what he wants to convey, and then he is open on my creative ideas about “how to say it”.

Now watch the video! If you don’t understand French it doesn’t matter! I would love to know what you get by watching and listening, maybe you still get the gist of the principles of disruptive innovation!

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The three philosophers – designing banners for a website

During the past months I’ve been working on the banners for the new website of the philosophy school Nouvelle Acropole in France.

The challenge was to create images that could communicate that the ancient wisdom of classic philosophers from the East and the West can be relevant for modern life.

So we decided to create cartoons for their website “slider” featuring cartoons of Confucius, Buddha, and Socrates. There would be one illustration with the three of them, and then one illustration for each one of them. In the individual illustrations we would use a quote from the philosopher and an illustration of the quote representing a modern life situation.

It was a fun challenge! The website will be soon online. Impression

This is the general image.  The “block-building” to the left says: Philosophy in the XXI century – Classical School.

Confucius: Always relevant!
Buddha: Open to everyone!
Socrates: Applied to everyday life!

140728 Nouvelle Acropole Website Baniere Confucius

Confucius: “If you put yourself in the other’s shoes, forgiveness is easy”.

140728 Nouvelle Acropole Website Baniere Buddha

Buddha: “Start by getting yourself in the right path, then you can offer advice to others”.

140728 Nouvelle Acropole Website Baniere Socrate

Socrates: “Only the knowledge that help us to improve ourselves is useful”.

The Philosophers and the quotes were chosen in collaboration with Nouvelle Acropole. Then I did the illustration of the quotes and they would offer me feedback on it.

Six years awakening my cartoon skills

Today I’m celebrating six years of awakening my cartoon design skills.

Antonio Meza self toon protrait 2014
Antonio Meza selftoon portrait 2014

 

I’ve loved drawing ever since I can remember.  At primary school in Mexico I spent hours doodling while the teacher spoke. I was  good at catching the main concepts in class and then wonder off into my own world of cartoon characters. Little did I know those skills would become professional assets in the future.

At that age, cartoon drawing was a good way to get attention and be “popular” by copying the characters of Garfield or the Pink Panther. Later on, as I grew into a teenager some other passions stroke my heart and brain: story-telling, photography, and filmmaking.

I never took my cartoon drawing skills “seriously” until I was in college and met Ricardo Arnaiz.  He was setting up an animated cartoon studio startup in Puebla. Happy days! I started doing script-writing for a TV series pilot and drawing animation outlines. In those days, I learned a lot from him and my colleagues. But sadly that company didn’t really take off. Disappointed, I turned back into academia and finished my degree in communication sciences with a thesis on animated cartoon TV-shows in Mexico. Ricardo moved on and continued stubbornly to create a new company. He is now a great example of creativity and tenacity in Mexico, having directed several animated movies by now with his company Animex Studios.

I decided I wanted to do movies too. But “real” movies, far from the Hollywood style. I wanted to do “art movies”. So I put aside my cartoon drawing skills and I focused on moving to France to study cinema and become a filmmaker of “serious movies”. While preparing, I worked as a freelance filmmaker with production companies in Puebla like Argos Sureste and Seta Producciones. It was again a time of huge learning. One of the highlights of this time was the production of the political-science fiction short-film No Estamos Solos directed by Melchor Morán and that I helped to write, story-board, produce and edit. We got a couple of awards in international festivals. I felt I was ready to move on.

But life doesn’t happen exactly as you plan. Making a life in a foreign country that is not really asking you to come is not easy. I applied twice to the National filmmaking school La Femis and twice I got to the finals to be refused afterwards. I decided I was going to stay anyways. So I went back to University. The Université de Paris 3 Sorbonne-Nouvelle accepted me into a Masters degree on cinema studies. I was studying again, and working as a freelance photographer and tourist guide for Spanish speaking backpackers.

And then something happened that changed my life and destiny again. I started collaborating with a startup Neurolinguistic Programming training company. Shortly after I joined the venture, became a trainer, coach and consultant. For four years I was part of PSI Communications. And this is when my drawing skills became handy again.

My business partner convinced me that my cartoon skills were unique to produce original handouts and pedagogic materials. The cartoons I was drawing seemed to me stiff and dry. But people seemed to like them. So I did more. That was six years ago.

These are a couple of examples. The very first handout drawing I produced in 2008 and the very last one in 2011.

The filter of perception, for PSI Communications
The filters of perception, for PSI Communications 2008
The human brain, for PSI Communications
The human brain, for PSI Communications 2011

Four years later I decided to move on as an independent coach, trainer and consultant. I developed a new brand Akrobatas, provider of creative empowerment tools.

However, I was in true urgency for getting cash-flow. A friend of mine told me “look, there is a job for a bilingual cartoon artist, you like to do that, don’t you?” And that’s how I met Jean-Eric Branaa in Université de Paris 2 Pantheon-Assas. For one academic year I drew cartoons for The Assas Post, their weekly publication. And we continued, producing two books together: English Law Made Simple, and American Government Made Simple.

Cover for "American Government Made Simple" by Jean-Eric Branaa
Cover for “American Government Made Simple” by Jean-Eric Branaa 2013

Today I combine my coaching activity with illustration and cartoon design. After those two books, I have now started two others. I’m also doing character design, illustrations for public speakers, articles, and visual facilitation for conferences.

This is an example of my work as a visual facilitator for the first European Citizens Summit in Brussels 2013.

Visual facilitation drawing for the first European Citizens Summit in Brussels 2013
Visual facilitation drawing for the first European Citizens Summit in Brussels 2013

I publish every month in my Akrobatas Stories blog an article from my coaching experience and I produce my own cartoon illustrations.  My work has become colorful and much more dynamic. And I’m celebrating this “coming back to my roots” with the publishing of my website antoons.net

Face your obstacles with resources, for my blog Akrobatas-Stories
Face your obstacles with resources, for my blog Akrobatas-Stories

In my journey I’ve grown up, I’ve changed, I’ve stumbled, I’ve cried out of frustration, and I’ve also enjoyed life, creativity and adventure.

Today I celebrate that as an adult I am becoming more like the child I used to be.