What’s Your Why: Co-Creation

This blog post is the fourth installment of What’s Your Why, a new blog series aimed at highlighting the importance of connecting back to the “why” that drives you and the work you are involved in. Our digital storyteller, Vlada, reflected on her work and process that entails designing visuals for the Innovation Hub. We hope this story inspires you to take a moment to reflect on your own individual “why”.  

The role of a Digital Storyteller at the Innovation Hub is similar to that of a narrator, bringing the stories from our project-specific data, visions, and insights to life, but through visual design.  

Written By: Vlada Gorchkova, Digital Storyteller 

Photo of Vlada
Vlada Gorchkova

I had always been aware that there were countless perspectives and experiences felt by students at the University of Toronto, but I truly didn’t realize the extent to which this was true until I started working at the Innovation Hub.  

Being a Digital Storyteller, I had insight on numerous projects, but more specifically felt responsible to engage with the insights in depth. Taking the insights articulated by the design researchers, transforming or supplementing the insights with visual language such as icons and formatting the insights in a way that reinforced critical points in the research, was not only a challenge for me, but I would say a challenge to the way that important information is often conveyed and delivered.  

The Value of Co-Creation  

icon of three individuals connected by a circle

As with everything at the Innovation Hub, empathy is woven into the fabric of the report and icon formatting. Some of these projects dealt with sensitive topics which will be delivered to influential members of the broader University community. By forgoing a traditional report format and supplementing reports with visuals and custom formatting, these reports achieved greater materiality, stepping away from the cold formality of traditional report or policy documents.  

This practice was made all the more effective by ideating with team members. Creating and co-creating visual materials with the rest of the Communications team was one of the things I valued most about the work that I did. Even amongst our team, everyone could have countless different interpretations of the same visual, which reflects how there are always a   multitude of perspectives to be captured in the Innovation Hub’s work.  

Amplifying Voices

Icon of a Megaphone

Seeing the ideas generated and techniques practiced by my peers has influenced my own style. As someone with experience communicating verbally and orally, it is immensely valuable to be developing the skill to communicate in a visual format as a member of a broader creative team. Having discussions with team members and seeking their input to best articulate and amplify the voices of the researchers telling the story of the broader U of T community is something that will stick with me. I’m grateful for the opportunity I have been given to be part of something bigger than myself at an institution I care about, and I look forward to all of the designing that is yet to come. 

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