Sketchnote Advent Calendar: 2 – Sylvia Duckworth

Even if you don’t know her, you know her drawings. Sharp drawings made with bright colors explaining complex topics in learning or psychology. If I show you one, you’ll say “oh yes, I recognize this style”.

Like this one, shared by my friend Diana

the web and social media crave share her drawings because they are like beautiful infographics.

That’s how I became aware of her work. Technically I would say she’s the first sketchnoter I knew. Just I didn’t name it sketchnote, and I met her only recently, last September 2018 in Lisbon. Considering her celebrity, I imagined her proud and bit distant. To my surprise, she is very simple, approachable, easy to connect with. She has this serenity of pure artists who live by their passion.

The style is falsely naive. It’s more in line with Dr Feynman art of explaining. Make it so easy a 5 year old can get it. The fact is that with the bright colors which are her “marque de fabrique” are attractive for children. Sylvia a French teacher at core. She took this mission to spread the love of sketchnoting to children. To reach the young she teaches the teachers and she finds new ways to teach drawing.

I went to her workshop in Lisbon. She made us draw on a few prompts, one after the other. What stroke me most was the music she played while we were drawing. Instantly we were in the flow, oblivious of the world around us.

She started a drawing challenge in October: #SketchnoteFever. 23 days with a visual prompt and short videos showing how to draw them. The challenge was joined by hundreds of classrooms around the world. We gained like this a vision of how kids from 5 to 12 react and learn how to become visual thinkers. Here is the page.


She published books to share her methods, examples, and learning plans. The books are of course made with drawings.

She did the trip to Lisbon, from Toronto. It was a surprise for me. She did also the trip to The “Doodle Summit” in Chicago. She’s the only person I met, who met Diane for real.

I got the word that she’s now on her next project: a world trip with visits of schools to meet children and spread the word directly.

More travels and more encounters for Sylvia.

Follow Sylvia on Twitter: @sylviaduckworth

That’s her site:

Here is her Selfie:

In this Advent calendar, the pre-Christmas period, it would be fit to speak of the Queens and Kings of Sketchnoting. I would say Sylvia qualifies as a Queen of Sketchnoting. Like in a deck of cards we have many queens and many kings.