Hey, Julia! Let me start by asking you how are things lately? Things have been great, thank you. I just ended a US West Coast road trip, my first time being „out of office” for so long since I’ve been-self employed. I decided to stick around in San Francisco a little bit, to connect with people from my industry. I’ll be back in Europe in the fall. For those that do not know, tell us about yourself! Who is Julia Bakay? I’m an Artist of Visual Notes, Illustrations, and Infographics. My work revolves around visually capturing and organizing information in creative or artistic ways. I love dancing, hiking and travelling -- luckily my job allows me to do all of these. I’m very passionate about my digital nomad lifestyle, I’m most likely to be found in Europe or North America.
How did your creative journey begin? Have you always been interested in illustration and design? Being an artist has been part of my identity ever since I can remember. However, it took many years to find how I could combine my various skills into a viable career. First, I moved around a lot in Europe and took many creative roles while getting my degrees in Arts, Education, and Languages. Then, I became an Art & English teacher, which was a fun experience, but I was too curious what else is possible. Finally, I moved to NY for a Master’s in Organizational Leadership, which I then combined with my artistic skillset to begin my current career.
Something that immediately caught my attention was your visual notes. Can you tell us a bit more about what inspired you to start creating this sort of work? When I first started creating these visual notes, I immediately recognized that I had found my passion. I often enter a flow state when I get to engage both sides of my brain: the analytical, logical one (to categorize and organize information), and the artistic one (to make that information appealing to the eye). What I love about it is the incredible impact it has on people and processes. Great visuals can really make a difference in how one’s message is perceived and remembered. I listen to these conversations, and I find creative and logical ways to illustrate the key ideas I hear. These visual mind maps then help record, summarize and share what happened. What’s the process from start to finish and how long does it take you to illustrate one? I have two main ways of approaching my visual notes, depending on whether I do it live, or based on recordings. If I am asked to join a live event, the graphic recording is a moment-by-moment capture of the conversation I’m listening to. I draw the entire time, and the participants can either follow my progress on their screen, or just receive the piece in the end. These visuals follow the flow of the conversation, while I also do my best to structure and summarize the content. This work is known as graphic recording, visual note-taking (US), or scribing (UK) depending on where we are. I also work based on recordings, which opens a whole new realm of opportunity. When not working live, I get to focus more on the composition. I can approach it as an artwork and take my time. These visual notes feel different because I get to really synthetize the information, reorganize and connect parts of the content in unique ways, and create something truly cohesive. I really enjoy getting lost in this process.
Did I notice that at one point you were a chalkboard artist? How was that? Oh, yes, those were the days! I made ends meet as a chalkboard artist for several restaurants during my college years in New York. I learned so much about psychology and marketing through that experience. It gave me a chance to discover how to display information in a way that captures attention, as well as how humor and visuals can help a message get across.
Are there any tips or tricks you would share with us today on how to keep the creativity going? The best advice I can give is to always have several creative projects going on at the same time. If possible, let them be in entirely different areas. Besides all my graphic work, I write a blog about my adventures and life philosophy, I do swing dancing whenever I can, and I even joined an improv club recently. Having many different outlets for one’s creativity is not only a guarantee that you’ll never quite get stuck (you can just hop over and do some of the other one), but in my experience, these skills can build on each other in some unexpected way. I also go on long walks a few times a day. I find that the best ideas come to me when I’m moving, especially in nature.
And lastly, what’s next for you? What I love about this profession is that it feels like anything is possible. I get to work in such a diverse range of topics and visual styles thanks to all these companies from a variety of fields. One of my long term goals is to steer more towards Visual Facilitation, and use my business degree to become an even more active part of the conversations I am capturing.
Another possible alley is Visual Coaching, I feel that visuals can make a huge difference on a personal level as well, I use them all the time to guide myself in life, and I would love to provide that kind of support one day. I know I have found my path, and I have felt so supported along the way. This has been the most warm and welcoming professional community I have ever encountered, and I am so thankful for all the great relationships formed and partners I get to work with. In the world of illustrations and visual notes, I will never stop improving, and there are endless new techniques and styles I can explore, invent, and contribute with. I feel optimistic about the future.