How to navigate complexity like an artist—a conversation with Sarah Firth


e23 / Wherein I chat with a friend and arrive at the edge of (my own) knowledge.



Wow. What a conversation! I had no idea this recording went over two hours. It felt like only an hour. Verily, if you ever wanted to know what a conversation feels like between two friends sans pretence, this is a conversation to tune into.

Note: I spend the first 15 minutes in preamble about the various goings on of my world. I regret it kinda now but it’s too late so oh-well—I shall do better next time.

So! My friend Sarah Firth is an award-winning comic artist, graphic recorder, writer and animator based in Melbourne. I was particularly excited to chat with Sarah, as she has one of the most richly verdant and diverse complex minds I know of. She is one of the few folk I know who (literally) makes art of complexity. See look: here’s a sample chapter from her graphic novel Making Sense of Complexity. Sarah has a swag of books she has authored, created and contributed to. This year saw the release of Badass Mums and Drawing Power (an empowering book we talk about in the episode). We also discuss the art and challenges of graphic recording work, the power and nuances of the #metoo movement (in which Sarah referred to Me Too: Stories From The Australian Movement). Sarah has an online shop for self-published books and products. You can find out more about Sarah, and connect with her via her website, medium, twitter, instagram, facebook and her newsletter.

What I particularly enjoyed about this chat—in addition to sharing a rich conversation about the navigation of complexity, social media, social anxiety and more—is just how honest it was. Sarah approached this with genuine curiosity and openness, and I never felt as though we became stuck in some pre-ordained narrative (a habit I fall into). It may require a coupe of sessions to get through this 2-hour episode, but I think you’ll enjoy it immensely.

Here’s to those with the patience/courage/tenacity to persist in the generative ambiguity of complexity. The world (our society) needs more of this right now.

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