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  • All right, I'm going to go out on a limb here.

  • I'm going to say that every single one of us in this room

  • made drawings when we were little.

  • Yes?

  • Yes? OK.

  • And maybe around the age of like, four or five or something like that,

  • you might have been drawing,

  • and a grown-up came over and looked over your shoulder and said,

  • "What's that?"

  • And you said, "It's a face."

  • And they said,

  • "That's not really what a face looks like.

  • This is what a face looks like."

  • And they proceeded to draw this.

  • Circle, two almonds for some eyes,

  • this upside-down seven situation we have here,

  • and then a curved line.

  • But guess what?

  • This doesn't really look that much like a face, OK?

  • It's an icon.

  • It's visual shorthand,

  • and it's how we look at so much of our world today.

  • See, we have so much information coming at us all the time,

  • that our brains literally can't process it,

  • and we fill in the world with patterns.

  • Much of what we see is our own expectations.

  • All right.

  • I'm going to show you a little trick

  • to rewire your brain into looking again.

  • Did you all get an envelope that says "do not open" on it?

  • Grab that envelope, it's time to open it.

  • Inside should be a piece of paper and a pencil.

  • Once you have that all prepped,

  • please turn to somebody next to you.

  • Ideally, somebody you don't know.

  • Yeah, we're doing this, people,

  • we're doing this.

  • (Laughs)

  • Great.

  • Everybody find a partner?

  • OK, now look back at me.

  • OK, now look back at me.

  • You are going to draw each other, OK?

  • No, no, no, no, wait, wait, wait, wait.

  • I promise this is not about doing a good drawing, OK?

  • That's not what we're doing here,

  • we're looking, this is about looking.

  • Everybody's going to be terrible, I promise, don't worry.

  • You're going to draw each other with two very simple rules.

  • One, you are never going to lift your pencil up off the paper.

  • One continuous line.

  • No, no, trust me here.

  • This is about looking, OK?

  • So one continuous line never lift the pencil.

  • Number two,

  • never, ever, ever look down at the paper you're drawing on, OK?

  • Yes, it's about looking.

  • So keep looking at the person you're drawing.

  • Now put your pencil down in the middle of the paper, OK?

  • Look up at your partner.

  • Look at the inside of one of their eyes.

  • Doesn't matter which one.

  • That's where you're going to start.

  • Ready?

  • Deep breath.

  • (Inhales)

  • And begin.

  • Now, just draw but notice where you are,

  • you're starting there and you see there is a corner,

  • maybe there's a curve there.

  • Notice those little lines, the eyelashes.

  • People are wearing masks, some aren't, just work with that.

  • Now just go slow.

  • Pay attention and draw what you see.

  • And don't look down.

  • Just keep going.

  • (Murmuring)

  • And just five more seconds.

  • And stop.

  • Look down at your beautiful drawings.

  • (Laughter)

  • Right?

  • Show your partner their incredible portrait.

  • It's so good, right?

  • I want to see them.

  • Hold them up.

  • Can you guys hold them up?

  • Hold up, everybody.

  • Oh my gosh.

  • Are you kidding me?

  • You all are amazing.

  • OK, you can put your drawings back down,

  • tuck them under,

  • put them on the paper.

  • That was wonderful.

  • I mean, they're all terrible, but they're wonderful.

  • Why are they wonderful?

  • Because you all just drew a face.

  • You drew what you saw.

  • You didn't draw what you think a face looks like, right?

  • You also just did something that people rarely do.

  • You just made intimate eye-to-eye,

  • face-to-face contact with someone without shying away

  • for almost a minute.

  • Through drawing, you slowed down,

  • you paid attention,

  • you looked closely at someone

  • and you let them look closely at you.

  • Good job.

  • I have found that drawing like this

  • creates an immediate connection like nothing else.

  • Alright.

  • So I call myself an illustrator and a graphic journalist.

  • I draw, I tell stories.

  • I spend time with people looking and listening.

  • And I take the words of the people that I speak with

  • and I put it together with drawings that I do, mostly from life,

  • just like you all just did.

  • I found that drawing like this does a lot of things

  • that photography can't do.

  • So when somebody points a camera at you, how do you feel?

  • A little objectified, right?

  • When I'm drawing, I hold my sketchbook low

  • and it keeps an open channel between me and the person I'm drawing.

  • A lot of time somebody will see me drawing and they'll get curious.

  • They'll come over to me,

  • and a real, authentic conversation begins.

  • Let me give you an example.

  • So a while back,

  • I wanted to do a drawn story

  • about how the public library serves our elders.

  • But after spending a few days kind of lurking around with a sketch pad,

  • looking over older folks' shoulders and asking them what they were reading,

  • I wasn't really getting the story.

  • Until I stumbled upon Leah.

  • Leah is the first, and at the time was the only, full-time social worker

  • dedicated to a library in the nation.

  • Turns out, public library definitely serves our elders.

  • It is also a social service epicenter of a city.

  • This is Charles.

  • Charles works with Leah.

  • And he does outreach within the library to folks

  • who are experiencing homelessness.

  • And he took me around,

  • I carried my sketch pad and I was drawing everything I saw,

  • and he showed me a very different library than I'd previously seen.

  • So computers that I assumed were for checking-out books,

  • or, you know, looking at emails,

  • were in fact a lifeline for folks who are searching for jobs and housing.

  • The sinks in the public restroom,

  • they are a laundromat and showers for folks who are sleeping on the street.

  • A library is a safe, quiet place

  • where anybody can go and find resources

  • and rest for free.

  • See, the moment I stopped looking for the story that I expected to see,

  • an entirely new and richer truth was revealed.

  • I found this to be true with everything and everyone I've ever drawn.

  • OK, so I draw from life, right, like you guys did.

  • And so I built myself a mobile studio

  • in the back of a swanky Honda Element --

  • So that I could go anywhere,

  • talk to anyone at any time and then draw and paint and sleep in the back.

  • It is very cozy.

  • I was on the road in Utah,

  • drawing and talking to people,

  • when I spotted on the side of the road a hand-painted wooden sign.

  • It said "Bootmaker."

  • I stopped.

  • A tall, white, handlebar mustached man wearing a cowboy shirt,

  • opened the door and found me,

  • a sketchbook-carrying, jumpsuit-wearing, urban, lefty lesbian,

  • smiling like, waving like a dork.

  • (Laughter)

  • When I spotted the stuffed cougar on the wall behind him,

  • this vegetarian thought she knew all she needed to know

  • about Don the bootmaker.

  • But there we were.

  • So I asked him if he'd just show me quickly a little bit about his craft.