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Barack Obama's First Inauguration Speech

graphic facilitation portfolio sketchnotes Jan 20, 2009

As I settled in to enjoy Obama's speech this morning, I turned to Facebook to read my FB friends' excited updates. Frank in Mexico asked if I was going to draw the speech. Hadn't occured to me! What a great idea. I scrambled for paper. Thank you, Frank!

I had a couple interesting changes in my work drawing this speech. First, I am accustomed to drawing a group's conversation, not a single, succinct speech. Second, I'm usually mapping a meeting, a moment in time, but not history. 

Because of these two things, I ended up scribbling down the main points I heard in pencil on a notebook. Not a real-time drawing. And as I scribbled notes, I realized that it was critical to quote Obama's words. One of my skills is to distill points into shorter, clearer phrases. Because this content was recorded and would be quoted, it was good to keep it in Obama's voice, even if it took my shape, my synthesis.

After I scribbled the notes, I downloaded a transcript. I highlighted the phrases that resonated with me when I listened live. Next, I needed to figure out how to wrap these points around the Obama banner I had drawn as a centerpiece. I started knowing that the O would be a face saying a major point. I chose to make that "Greatness is never a given. It is earned." I built the main point around the banner, though not strictly in linear order.

I was very curious what pieces of the speech would be made into soundbites. As I prepped this image, I listened to NPR and I was glad to hear a lot of the pieces of the drawing being repeating on air.

Update: Despite the image not being quite done in real-time, I managed to get to drawn, photographed and online within 3 hours. Since then it's been an absolute joy to hear reactions to it and see folks spread the good word/image. You are welcome to distribute the image, keeping the gray attribution text on it. It's especially helpful for both viewers and for me to include a link to this page.

Update No. 2: Holy crow! This image has legs. Thanks mostly to Twitter and Facebook, this page had 5000 visits in the first three days, with over a thousand people clicking on the PDF. Over two weeks, 8K total visits and 2000 PDF clickers. Thanks to everyone for the visits and views. I hope you found the image useful and enjoyable.


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