Interview With Scriberia
14 November 2022
Introducing our new pioneers of visual thinking: Scriberia. Based in London, and trusted around the world, Scriberia empowers clients in the age of visual communication. Through animation, illustration, scribing, graphic facilitation and storytelling, this award-winning team offer a fast, flexible, creative service. With the power of pictures, Scriberia enables organisations of all shapes and sizes to define and share ideas, tell stories, align teams and engage new audiences. We caught up with co-founder Dan Porter to find out more about the dynamic of their multi-service studio.
We love Scriberia's mantra "Visual thinking gets things done.” What is Scriberia’s story? How did it all begin?
Chris Wilson and I started Scriberia in 2009 after we met as freelance scribes. Scribing, for those who don’t know, is using illustration to capture live conversations and content - usually at conferences or meetings. Scribing was quite a new thing back then and for both of us, it gave a new perspective on how the thing we loved doing - drawing - could be applied in this setting. To make ideas clearer, more memorable and ultimately more useful.
We felt we could push the idea of scribing even further by creating an agency that would really leverage the power of pictures. Even though our service has expanded a lot, we stay focused on the idea that visuals make hard work easier.
Another phrase we use a lot is ‘drawing is decision making.’ Every drawing is the product of a series of decisions to put pen to paper, a process of establishing what to include and what to leave out. It forces you to prioritise and to clarify - that’s visual thinking in action - and for that very reason, it really is a powerful work tool and an effective way to get things done.
Scriberia is known for being a creative team of live drawers, designers and illustrators, animators, educators and muralists. How important is a community within your studio?
There is a real diversity of talent in the studio, but we’ve always felt like a close-knit team with a real appreciation for what each other can bring to the table. Community is part of it, but for us, our success has always rested on creative collaboration. So, when Covid forced us to work apart, there was a natural fear that we’d lose a part of what had worked so well for us in the past.
But, of course, like everyone, we’ve adapted. We’ve continued to create those opportunities for people to be together - in real and virtual spaces, for work, for play, for learning and development - and that has enabled us to maintain a sense of togetherness. In a company like ours, where we ask people to be creative under pressure, it’s especially important to feel really comfortable with each other.
How do you keep all members of Scriberia on the same creative track enabling your style to stay strong?
We have developed a team of illustrators and animators that can offer our clients a real diversity of styles and our portfolio bears that out. We don’t want to be seen as offering one style. But, what is absolutely consistent across all our services and work is the thought process behind it.
We like to think of everything we produce as a ‘hardworking picture’ - a picture that we can send out into the world to do a job and make life easier for hardworking clients. Of course, we like our work to be beautiful too - and it is - but what differentiates Scriberia's work is the emphasis on smart, lean, efficient, effective ideas. We’re never using style to hide a lack of substance.
As a founder of Scriberia, where do you find inspiration and how do you inspire your team?
We’ve made sharing the work of illustrators, animators and artists we admire part of our daily practice. We do what we can to foster curiosity - filling the studio with books and magazines about all sorts of things, getting regular speakers in to talk on a whole range of subjects, encouraging museum visits, recommending books, podcasts and so on. Keeping the mind well-stocked with ideas and reference points is the key to unlocking any creative problem. You just never know when something you’ve seen or read about will provide that unexpected angle from which to tackle a problem or that killer metaphor you’ve been looking for.
Where is your role in the team? Do you still enjoy being creative yourself?
My role is really varied. As a co-founder, it's often my job to give people permission to take risks creatively and to remind them to be brave and playful. I’m very comfortable with a bit of madness. Weird or funny ideas might not be quite where we end up, but they’re creatively rich, they have energy, and they take the work in a more interesting direction.
I also love to talk and write about what I’ve learned about the creative process over the years. There’s so much to extract from this topic which is relevant to people whatever their profession and it’s really gratifying to give people the tools to think, work and communicate. We’ve developed our Academy courses to share those insights.
On top of that, there’s all the regular stuff you do when you’re running a business - finance, staff development and so on. I do still enjoy being creative. I like writing as much as I like drawing so I try and keep doing both regularly. I’ve always been more of an ideas person than someone into the craft of making things though! When we founded the company we always said we wanted to fill it with people more talented than we were, and fortunately, there are some incredibly gifted illustrators and animators here now that bring amazing skills and knowledge to our work.
What messages do you hope people take away from the work Scriberia does?
To do what they do, our team have to be talented artists, of course. But I’m proud to have built a team of great thinkers. I hope that, what shines through our work, is our collective intelligence and our commitment to solving real-world problems in a creative way.
Congratulations on your extraordinary win of four awards this year at the Dotcomm 2022 Awards. What is it about these animation projects that made them special do you think?
Thank you very much. The really nice thing about those four animations is that, between them, they capture the breadth of work that our animation team do in any given year. They are amazingly diverse in terms of style, subject, intended audiences and the clients themselves.
For instance, one very poignantly describes the isolation and suffering that comes with hearing voices, and we know it’s had a really positive impact on people who have struggled to communicate this experience with their friends and family. It’s a great example of how you can use animation to make invisible things visible and convey a lot of emotion at the same time as information.
And then, in contrast, there’s quite an abstract animation that we made at the start of the Covid pandemic, which explains how scientists can use modelling to predict the transmission of disease and inform public health policy. We’re really passionate about using visuals to make very complex concepts more accessible - so, we were proud to be at what felt like the cutting edge of pandemic science communication at such a critical time, and really delighted to have received a number of awards for it.
What goals does Scriberia have for the future?
Our aim is to lay the foundations for visual culture in every organisation we are lucky enough to work with by creating fun, intelligent work that makes a tangible difference. We are utterly convinced that companies that embrace illustration and animation make smarter, faster decisions, communicate better inside the company and out, are more compelling storytellers and are more attractive to talent and customers. Who doesn’t want that?!
In order to make the workplace of the future more visual, the people within it need to be more visually literate too, so encouraging more visual thinking within the education system is something we’re keen to try and influence too.
Want to see the magic of Scribera for yourselves? Watch their showreel down below...
Explore Scriberia's animation portfolio now...