Creative Leadership – Sketchcognition

I recently spent a morning at City University exploring creativity and innovation via a series of talks and workshops. The session which most aroused my curiosity was a workshop on Sketchcognition delivered by Illugi Eysteinsson.

About Illugi

Illugi Eysteinsson is an architect/educator with a Masters degree in both Architecture and Fine arts and recently obtained a PgCert in teaching. Illugi has extensive experience facilitating art/architectural community workshops having worked as public art consultant, artist and set designer in the entertainment industry for fifteen years. Currently Illugi is involved in architectural workshops for communities undergoing urban regeneration. He graduated in 1994, one of the last groups of students to do so without computers.

About Sketchcognition

Sketchcognition is very much a work in progress, in fact this workshop (which was fully subscribed within three hours of it becoming available) was the first time the idea had been shared beyond Illugi’s family and close friends. This newness raised my excitement and interest levels and at the same time, any sense of expectation I had was mercifully released. I will now attempt to sketch out what I heard and saw.


Sketches are drawings but not all drawings are sketches.

The end product of a sketch is new knowledge not an image.

You sketch to figure stuff out.

Paper to brain to aha!

Ideation, first responses, then design team, then client – you can’t CAD (computer aided design) an idea right here right now, but you can sketch it.

Sketch as a memory device, as an adaptation device.

Draw what you see, in your head, someone else’s head.

Art is representation – creates baggage and pressure. Words are part of visual communication but are national, cultural, offensive possibly. If English is not my first language and you write in English – a barrier is being created.

There is no such thing as a good or bad sketch. Less pressure.

Sketching…curiosity…problem solving…

‘Photo real’ feeds on client insecurity and architect megalomania. Sketching is easier to enter into, requires vulnerability?

I have left my notes deliberately rough – they are as I scribbled them down on the day. As someone who uses drawing in a lot of client work, I think Illugi’s idea has a lot of power and accessibility in it, and I wanted to share what I learned in a basic form to help you think about how sketching can act as an aid to creativity and problem solving.

In early July I’ll be launching ‘I’m Not An Artist’ which is a one day exploration combining basic art and drawing techniques. The workshop is all about creating excitement and progress, accelerating and embracing failure in order to succeed, and seeing work through an artistic lens. We will explore a broad range of techniques designed to help you understand and experience creativity.

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

3 thoughts on “Creative Leadership – Sketchcognition”

  1. Doug, there is an element in sketching which is about “just enough and not too much”. This is something many business people could learn from. The tendency to “goldplate” ideas kills many initiatives, later if not sooner.

    I am developing my standup comedy “muscle” (yes, there is a showcase in four weeks!). I started the course to better understand the techniques and structure and like you with the sketching have not been disappointed. Sketching is maybe a more direct form of communication, ie it is what it is, while comedy sheds light on subjects in different ways. Maybe one day we can combine the two?

    1. Hello Ian – I love it – just enough and not too much indeed, thanks.

      Where can we find out more about the upcoming showcase please? And yes – combining the two could be useful fun, I’m up for that.

  2. I shared this post on Facebook where I received the following comment:

    ‘This reminds me of a holiday in Sweden. We made friends with a German girl- we didn’t speak German- she didn’t speak English. Our communication was with a stick, drawing pictures in the sand. We’d explain the next game in pictures and off we would go. Simple!’

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