Robert Black’s
Cartooning Journal  

We live in an age of information overload.

All the easy problems have been solved. What are left are the trickier, abstract and nebulous problems that take creative insights to solve. What I love about my work as a Strategy Cartoonist, is finding visual metaphors that help people see things in a new or different way.

Here are some samples of the kind of work I do...

Safety handbook 

I've just done a series of cartoons for an Australian mining company's safety handbook. They already have an amazing safety procedure manual as thick as a phone book, to appease the lawyers and regulators, but they were finding that many of their workers just were refusing to read through such verbose and boring documentation. So they've commissioned this 20 page handbook to capture an overview of the principles of their safety policies, and make them easily accessible and visual for their workers.

Contamination awareness 

Contamination awareness

I've just completed a commissioned series of cartoons and a logo for a contamination prevention awareness campaign. A large Australian company has realised after doing a little research that it can save tens of millions a year in reduced maintenance, spoiled supplies, and equipment down time if they lessen lubrication and fuel contamination.

It may be as simple as people leaving the lid off a drum when there's dust blowing around a work site, leading quickly to very large and expensive equipment needing to be taken out of service.

Interestingly they intend using these materials in countries around Asia where they have other operations.

Financial services company leadership workshop 

Just completed a three day Leadership Workshop/Forum with the management of a major Australian financial services company. The meeting was run by a professional facilitator, and my role was to sit in the corner and draw large cartoon metaphors for the discussions between the participants, visually capturing some of its essence. The setting was the beautiful sea-side retreat of the Melbourne Business School at Mt Eliza.

It’s interesting how people grappling with abstract ideas and lots of words, gain fresh insights when they see them interpreted as image metaphors.

Financial services company leadership workshop

This photo shows the posters pinned up for further discussion on the last day. That’s Paul the facilitator out front - I’m behind the camera, taking the photo.

Visual metaphors for division of a large telco 

I've been working for a major division of one of Australia's largest telecommunications companies, to create a cartoon series that visually captures the essence of some fairly radical changes planned for its client-facing structure and business practices.

Speed is of the essence for this transformation, so it's felt that cartoons using visual metaphors will be yet another tool to help staff appreciate both the reasons behind these structural changes, and the intended benefits of the new processes.

It's been really great working with the consulting team from AT Kearney, who've been assisting with the planning.

Mining company strategy meeting 

Mining company strategy meeting

I just worked at a mining company’s two day management workshop. Held at a fancy conference centre outside Melbourne, it featured two top-grade facilitators and the upper management of the company’s three divisions. As usual, my job was to sit in the corner with my eyes peeled, listening to what was being said and coming up with visual metaphors that hopefully captured some essence of the day’s discussions.

Mining company strategy meeting 2

As it turned out, the three divisions were all working very well independently, but there were occasions where they weren’t working so well together for the greater good of the company - a common and tricky scenario. At the end of each day I’d put my drawings up around the room for everyone to peruse, and these acted as a catalyst for more discussion. Sometimes, when a group has been struggling with the language and ideas around difficult and abstract problems, it gives a fresh and new perspective to see them put into pictures and metaphors.

I had a chat with their COO at the end, about doing of a series of cartoon-based safety posters for use around their sites.

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Copyright © 2019 Robert Black