"I Can't Draw Well" - Emography, a Common Language for Co-creation, Provides the Rakugaki Method to Dramatically Empower You

As a child, everyone enjoys rakugaki (a Japanese word meaning "drawing for fun") excitedly. However, as people grow up, many find themselves not enjoying drawing as much as before, and they come to think that they are not good at drawing. At Fujitsu Forum 2017, Fujitsu held a workshop where participants can experience a new drawing method. This workshop gave participants tips on bringing out their inherent creative power and expressing ideas and thoughts that cannot be conveyed by words through rakugaki drawings. The Fujitsu Journal team reports on this workshop, where many customers enjoyed drawing.
[Fujitsu Forum 2017 Workshop Report]

Does Everyone Have a Talent for Drawing?

Tamura Kai
Graphic Catalyst/Rakugaki Coach,
Service Integration Design Group,
Fujitsu Design Limited

Have you heard of a method called "Graphic Recording" (Grareco) that is attracting attention these days? Grareco is a method for using graphics to organize and visualize the content, structure, and flow of discussions and presentations in real time.
Many people remark that they have no talent for drawing or that they are not good at drawing. The workshop lecturer, Tamura Kai from Fujitsu Design, asked participants, "Have you ever looked up the word egokoro (the Japanese word for drawing talent) in a dictionary?" He explained: "The talent for drawing is defined as 1) the ability to understand drawing and 2) the feeling that one wants to try to draw. This is nothing difficult. Everyone has talent for drawing. The only difference is whether or not you actually try!"

Let's Try Expressing Ourselves!

It is difficult to draw something right away. So, this workshop started with an icebreaker in which participants expressed four human emotions (happiness, sadness, anger, and surprise) in turn by drawing lines so that they could tap into their innate expressive power. Participants who initially appeared confused became able to clearly express their emotions with lines. When sharing these works within their groups, many people nodded with interest. Through this activity, they came to understand that emotions can be expressed without words.

Sharing lines to express emotions within the group

After warming up, participants challenged themselves to draw faces. The skill of drawing faces proves effective in various situations, including business and idea generation. By drawing customers' faces, imagining their facial expressions and emotions, you can find challenges you have not noticed before.

How can you depict emotions by drawing facial expressions? All you need to do is to remember five eye patterns, five mouth patterns, and four eyebrow patterns. By drawing human faces by combining these patterns (5 × 5 × 4 = 100 patterns), you can express complicated human emotions. By drawing different face shapes (such as circles and triangles) and rectangular bodies while adding clothes, you can draw various characters.

Drawing various emotions by combining different eye, mouth, and eyebrow patterns

Percolating Ideas with Emography

Tamura, the workshop lecturer, uniquely developed a nonverbal communication technique that uses signs to express emotions. This technique is named "emography," a combination of the words "emotion" and "graphy" (signs). Emography is very effective for taking notes and organizing one's thoughts.

Next, participants worked on individual tasks using emography under the theme of "New Ideas of Work." First, they wrote the keyword "work" in the center of a sheet of paper and drew faces with various facial expressions and added speech bubbles detailing participants' feelings about work. Referring to the use of both pictures and words, Tamura remarked, "It is important to move back and forth between images and letters."

When participants shared the pictures of emotions they had drawn in each group, they recognized their own feelings in others' drawings. One said sympathetically, "I understand this happy but slightly sad feeling!" At that moment, the group members could share sensitive emotions by means of the drawings of faces.

Adding words in speech bubbles in group work under the theme of "work"

Next, the participants in each group chose an emotion that they could share in their group and extracted the challenges associated with said emotion. They then generated ideas to solve those challenges.

If we think only in words, our ideas are limited to the range that words can express. However, by combining words with drawings, it becomes possible to reach the level of the "collective unconsciousness," like the feeling of "YES, I know this!" - this helps add depth to ideas.

Emography for Thinking and Creating Together

At the start, many participants thought that drawing would be difficult, but by the end of the workshop, they had come to enjoy drawing with confidence. We heard various opinions from the participants: "I want to keep doing this after returning to the office," "I was surprised to learn that drawing helps us express our ideas, giving shape to images," and "Drawing caused me to hit upon an idea I would never have thought of only with words."

Here, rakugaki does not refer to graffiti (another of its meanings in Japanese) but rather "enjoyable drawings." We hoped that participants would enjoy drawing, and we feel our wish has reached them through this workshop.

Recording workshop content with Grareco (graphic recording)

People have been iterating the cycle of "expression, observation, and imagination" since birth. According to Tamura, this cycle starts with expression. Newborn babies express themselves by crying. As they grow, they gradually come to observe adults' behaviors, imagine what they want, and gradually change their expressions from crying to other means, such as words and drawings.

In the process of generating ideas for business, why not start by expressing your thoughts by drawing?