What’s the difference? Sketchnoting vs graphic recording, graphic facilitation, and event art

When I’m drawing at live events, one of the most common things people say to me is “Oh, so this is like those court room drawings!” Oftentimes, people haven’t seen a graphic recorder at work before, so they compare it to the closest thing they know (a courtroom artist, in this case!).

Sketchnoting, Visual notetaking, infodoodling, visualization… no matter what you call it, visual communication is everywhere and it takes many forms. If you’ve ever been confused about the different types, here’s a few quick definitions to help you keep it all straight.


  • Sketchnotes (aka Visual Notes): (Read: What are sketchnotes?)
    • Can be created live in real-time (lecture-based content) or at the artist’s call (experience-based content)
    • Professional or personal uses
    • Typically created in smaller sizes (i.e. sticky notes, index cards, loose leaf paper, sketchbooks, journals, on ipads)
  • Graphic Recording:
    • Created live, in the moment. Content captured from a lecture-based environment or from an audience.
    • Professional only. Most often seen at conferences, meetings, and presentations. Graphic Recording is often created for the benefit of the commissioning company and/or the entertainment of the audience.
    • Created in larger format sizes, like poster boards, large rolls of paper, and foam display panels.
  • Graphic Facilitation (aka Visual Facilitation):
    • Created live, in the moment. Content is created from the group and often follows an outline or template.
    • Purely professional. The Graphic Facilitator serves two purposes: to facilitate a meeting and to facilitate the creation of the work.
    • End result may be multiple larger pieces like poster boards and easel pad papers, or it a single large-format display piece similar to graphic recording.
  • Event Art
    • Note: Event art is not really in the same category since it’s focused on the art and doesn’t include text/words. However, many people compare event artists with graphic recorders because it’s similar in a few ways.
    • Event artist types vary. Some are there to interact with the attendees, like a caricature artist. Some are there just to observe and create (courtroom artists).
    • Created live, in the moment.
    • Purely professional. The Event Artist is paid to be there to entertain the audience.
    • End result is usually small- something an attendee could take home with them. Some live event artists create a single, large work for the benefit of all.

What other terms have you heard? Send us a message on Instgram @sketchnoteacademy.


Get Started with Sketchnoting!

Get Started with Sketchnoting!

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