Graphic Design to Visual Storytelling.The journey.

Hi, I’m Abi, Sixteen by Nine’s latest recruit, and the last 6 months have been one hell of a journey.

18 months ago: I was a Graphic Designer working in a small creative agency with well-known clients, predominantly in the events sector. I would often be multi-tasking with a paintbrush in one hand, a screwdriver in the other and a laptop at arm’s reach. I was buzzing to be part of the hustle and bustle of events.

12 months ago: Suddenly, everything changed rapidly. We had a global pandemic on our hands. I started working from home. Future events were on the horizon, but the industry was firmly on hold.

6 months ago: It was time. I needed to venture off into the world of Graphic Design and broaden my skills. I found a role advertised online, to become a Visual Storyteller working for an agency specialising in Presentation Design.

“The key to great ideas is not having them, it is executing them. And great ideas come from problems. As designers we call problems, briefs and we call reactions to problems, concepts.”

— Ariel Moross

What is the difference between a Graphic Designer and a Visual Storyteller?

Graphic designers are often involved with creating visual content. Be it illustration, photography, typography, or composition. Graphic design has many avenues like motion graphics, editorial design, events, and print – each highly visual and full of ideas. At Sixteen by Nine we combine pure graphic design and Visual Storytelling. Visual Storytellers consider the Who and the Why, as well as the What and the How. They need to know the importance of graphic design and how best to engage audience’s brains, when presenting content. However, the experience of being a Graphic Designer naturally compliments Visual Storytelling.

A presentation is an opportunity to learn new ideas and truly engage in worthwhile conversations with audiences. “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”, Benjamin Franklin wisely stated. Without the combination of strong content and impactful visuals, a presentation is nothing but a pointless mouthpiece that an audience might instantly forget about. Each client’s story or idea is different. We’re looking for that sweet spot between Presenter, Audience and Story. This is why Sixteen by Nine is so special.

Settling into my new role.

Settling into a new job from day one at home has been an interesting experience, that’s for sure. Working as a team with other creatives by my side has been a godsend.  Moving forward as we get back into the office, I am excited to collaborate face to face with my colleagues. I’ve got stuck into projects with a new mindset from the word go. A mindset of just giving it a go, and if it can be improved, I can try again.

The transition from working in events to working within the presentation design sphere has been delightful. If anything, I’ve been able to hit the creativity spot even more than in previous roles. Starting with a blank canvas as a Graphic Designer can be daunting. Creativity doesn’t always flow on command.

I’ve taken a positive spin on this experience and my skill set as a Visual Storyteller has grown at a rapid rate over the past six months of being at home. My colleagues have been on hand to help me learn new skills along the way and collaborating over calls has been hugely helpful.

I have relished in the fact I don’t have to hit print on large scale graphics which are then permanent. I love the freedom of working on something that is able to evolve over time.

What makes presentation design so unique and specialist?

As a Visual Storyteller, I am responsible for creating compelling visuals and crafting engaging ideas, which is only half the job. The other half, mainly unseen; consists of research, the copywriting collaboration, the touchpoints, the logic and of course the story. Putting these two things together then empower that presenter to engage their audience.

My first major project is a perfect example of the full-service offering that Sixteen by Nine provide. Working with our client, dunnhumby from start to finish. It was a brilliant insight for me to work on an interactive toolkit, with a mix of video and PowerPoint. Putting my new skills to the test during an extremely busy period for the business. What’s great is seeing the transformation from before to after. From rudimentary content skeletons to fully realised design. And receiving such positive feedback directly from the client means I know that what we do is really worth it, to both the presenter and ultimately their audience.

Choosing to work for an agency that solely focuses on this alone is truly rare; from keynote speeches, pitches, business meetings, toolkits, virtual conferences, the list goes on. I’m genuinely excited to see what is in store for me next!

“Digital design is like painting, except the paint never dries.”

— Neville Brody