Is it ever a bad idea to share your sketchnotes?

I think the answer is yes.

I take sketchnotes because I enjoy them, because they’re a great way for me to focus and listen, and because it’s great practice for my job as an illustrator. I recently visited a church I don’t normally attend, and took sketchnotes like I normally do. When the sermon was over and I went home, I thought about posting my personal sketchnotes to Instagram like usual, but something felt off: I didn’t like the sermon.

Without going into a huge explanation of why, I’ll leave it at this: I didn’t think that what was preached was Biblical and I wouldn’t endorse or want to share the content personally. The sermon was more life advice from a man’s mind than life change from the Bible. Ultimately, I decided not to share my sketchnotes. I disliked AND disagreed with what was said.

The Responsibility of Sharing

Sharing sketchnotes is fun for me. I like showing people what I can do, and I like sharing the knowledge that I get to capture. I love learning and visualizing information, but I also believe I have a responsibility when I share sketchnotes. To me, sketchnotes are not just impersonal pictures- the drawings I make are part of my own personal style and thought process. When I share my notes, I’m sharing part of myself. Because the notes are personal, I have to ask myself, “Am I ok sharing my notes, which are a part of me, if I don’t don’t like or agree with the content?” My answer in this case was “No.”

Disliking or disagree?

There is a difference between disliking and disagreeing with content.

Last year I did graphic recording job during a live medical procedure (plastic surgery). I disliked the nature of the procedure, and I also discovered that I do not have a strong stomach when it comes to recording graphic medical information! Even though I was proud of the work I did, I decided not to share it on my portfolio site because I disliked the nature of the work. My reason was this: You often attract what you project. Why bother sharing work if you disliked it?

I did not have a problem accepting the medical procedure client who had content I disliked. I would do the work, but may not share it or post it on my portfolio. If I am not 100% proud of the work AND what it stands for, I won’t share it. This may be an unpopular opinion, and some may say it’s wrong to gain from doing business with something or someone you dislike, but I don’t feel that way.

In the case of disagreeing with the content, I think it depends on how deeply you disagree with something- whether it’s surface-level preferences or central to your identity, and whether you believe your work would be used to harm others. I believe it’s possible to disagree with someone and still love and serve them (or, work with them!)

I don’t have concrete answers for you regarding when to share and when not to share- that’s up to you and your conscience. Instead, ask yourself these questions to find clarity:

  • Am I proud of the work?
  • Do I have any hesitations sharing who the client is or what they do?
  • Do I want to do more work like this? Do I want to have more clients like this?
  • Would my work help or hurt?