ArchiSketch Chicago Launches with Two Workshops

ArchiSketch Chicago Launches with Two Workshops

Sketch crawl Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden and Grant Park: Michigan Ave & Congress

Chicago, IL (August 9, 2016) ArchiSketch Chicago where Architectural illustration meets historical narration of Chicago’s built environment. Sketch while discovering what makes Chicago the “City Beautiful.”

ArchiSketch Chicago launches with two new workshops.
Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden on Saturday, August 13, 2016 10a-1p
Grant Park: Michigan Ave & Congress on Saturday, August 27, 2016, 10a-1p

$50.00 per person, bring own drawing materials.
Advance registration required, maximum 15 participants per workshop

These workshops combine the history and of the architecture and its location in the overall urban setting. Plus, drawing instruction to highlight key characteristics of the building and its location.

lp-zoo-verlocal-080216ArchiSketch Chicago workshops adds a new dimension to urban sketching and sketch crawls with the presentation of the architecture, styles, details and story that each participant can add to their own sketches; creating their own stories to share with friends and on social media.
The series of workshops, developed by Joann Sondy, is a culmination of her passions: architecture + drawing. “ArchiSketch Chicago is an opportunity to bring your sketchbook and pencils to learn more about iconic structures, learn or push your drawing skills to new levels and share what you’ve done with the growing global community of urban sketchers.”

grant-park-verlocal-01Drawing upon her experience leading architecture tours, Joann conducts in-depth research about each building or structure, the neighborhood and history to create a theme for each workshop. Workshop themes might emphasize the built environment, key building/style characteristics, select time period or location.

Additionally, Joann Sondy is a storyteller, employing her skills and training to entertain and educate. As a designer who specialized in presentations and publications, she never let go of the art school training and skills to fill pages of her own sketchbooks.

ArchiSketch Chicago are in-depth workshops which introduce drawing skills and techniques, along with historical narrations of Chicago’s architectural legacy, styles and their connection to its rich cultural heritage. During the ArchiSketch Chicago workshops, participants will visit multiple locations, allowing ample time for sketching based on instruction customized for each stop.

For more information:
Joann Sondy
ArchiSketch Chicago
tel: 231-633-0945

ArchiSketch Chicago is a service/division of Creative Aces Corporation (

Sun + Shade + Art Supplies = USk Chicago Sketch Seminar


Two full days of sketching, painting and creativity with people who share a passion for urban sketching. I am humbled to have been a part of the leadership team with my own Architecture Sketching Tour. I’m looking forward to next year.


This year’s Sketch Seminar workshops sold out rather quickly, people from the greater Chicagoland area, across the nation and international sketchers, too. Sixteen workshops scheduled over the weekend, many offered twice, from breaking free of the fear of on-site sketching, introduction to art materials, oil painting, sketch like an architect, sketching with markers and colored pencils to coptic bookbinding. I don’t have final numbers yet, but I’d guess that 200+ people participated in workshops, volunteered and taught.



Urban Sketchers is a global community of urban sketchers for those who love to draw the cities where they live and visit, from the window of their homes, from a cafe, at a park, standing by a street corner… always on location, not from photos or memory. And, he/she shares their sketches with the community. The manifesto is quite simple:

  • We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
  • Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
  • Our drawings are a record of time and place.
  • We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
  • We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
  • We support each other and draw together.
  • We share our drawings online.
  • We show the world, one drawing at a time.


Passion. Talent. Community. Exhaustion. This is how I’d describe the weekend. Individuals with artistic passions learning new techniques or pushing their own creative talents in groups, and sharing ideas throughout the workshops and afterward. The weather in Chicago was extraordinary with sunscreen and cold water readily available. The gentle Lake Michigan breezes were calming, encompassing the entire Chicago lakefront experience.

Architecture Sketching Tour

ArchiSketch-GrantPark-071216-usk2The original request to lead an architecture tour was quite a surprise and humbling*. And, after I had drafted an initial tour, the hub for Chicago Sketch Seminar 2016 shifted to American Academy of Art located at Michigan Avenue and Van Buren–a new tour needed to be developed. The challenge was to organize a walking route that would be interesting and allow enough time for sketching. I believe my Grant Park: Michigan & Congress tour achieved these core principles.

  • Chicago Club
  • Van Buren Metra Entrance
  • Michigan Avenue “Cliff” (Van Buren to Congress)
  • Fine Arts Building
  • Auditorium Building
  • Grant Park Entrance at Congress: The Bowman and The Spearman
  • Buckingham Fountain
  • Presidents Court Sitting Lincoln (excluded due to Taste of Chicago fencing)
  • Railway Exchange Building
  • Metropolitan Tower (fka Strauss)


USk 2016 Architecture Sketch Tour Map & eBook
USk 2016 Architecture Sketch Tour Map & eBook

The map and entire tour booklet are available for download. I’ve included in my booklet the background information on each location and additional photos.



First, thank you to ALL who participated in the Architecture Sketching Tour on Saturday and Sunday. Your feedback and comments have been very helpful to refine this tour. Big thanks to the Chicago Sketch Seminar leadership team, teacher and volunteers who made 2016 a success year for Urban Sketchers Chicago.

What’s Next

The Architecture Sketching Tour was a precursor to ArchiSketch Chicago that I’ve been developing since early Spring. Based on feedback, I’m now ready to launch. Visit ArchiSketch Chicago for more information about workshops.

See you on the street with your sketchbook!


*  USk Chicago seminar planners aren’t aware, but, as Docent, I had to seek permission from Docent Standards at Chicago Architecture Foundation to participate and lead USk tour. 

Form Ever Follows Function

Form Ever Follows Function

My tardiness in writing a well-thought out newsletter was delayed due to book* & presentation projects earlier this month.

I’ve been leading an Art Deco skyscrapers walking tour,  primarily along LaSalle Street in Chicago,  since I ‘certified’ in late spring. Art Deco is about ornamentation, these magnificent 1930s skyscrapers got me thinking about structure and the use of ornament (decoration).

Below is a quote excerpt from Holabird & Roche, architects of Chicago Board of Trade (1930):

“the exterior is an expression of the function(s) of the building…”

I think they were tapping into Louis H. Sullivan’s “form ever follows function.” For the CBOT, many would agree, the ornamentation is not merely decoration; it accentuating the overall design of the commodities exchange–all relating to agriculture (wheat, corn, lumber).

Why the architecture metaphor?
Frankly, there are numerous metaphors beyond architecture.
Each project, even an image for your Instagram feed requires structure and planning. We must invest the time into purpose or function, before any discussion of ornamentation. Then the mechanics of structure structure and flow of the publication will designed. Every writer I know begins with an outline or structure. Yes, even graphic designers begin with function and structure.

No amount of stock images, cheeky infographics or trendy color swatches will hide the lack of thought given to crafting a strong message and story structure; including any call-to-actions.

Working with photographic material presents a different opportunity to create a theme or visual structure for a collection. (see previous post)

I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve been asked to work on pitch deck/publication and the first conversation is about the aesthetics versus purpose, theme, content and audience.

Let’s not design from the outside inward. Sticky notes, index cards or whiteboards are simple, yet effective tools to breakdown your storyboard, eliminating the non-essential, shifting sections to improve the flow, etc.

More about structure or storyboarding:




Break out your coloring pencils to ignite your inner creative juices–coloring is the new meditation. Patterns of the Ancient World and Renaissance Patterns were developed for convenience of travel. The 6×9″ size is ideal to toss in your shoulder bag and fits nicely on hard surface like your tablet. AND, I included blank pages for your own drawings or doodles. Available via Amazon.


Cosmic Journey of Three

Cosmic Journey of Three

A walk through the Adler*

A recent walk along the three levels of the Adler Planetarium guided me through the exhibits to the theaters with ease. Reminding me of the graceful, yet powerful of use of THREEHow do we consciously or unconsciously incorporate this into our work?

The use of three segments or divisions can be used to construct a presentation, write the speech or develop visuals. Artists and architects have used “3” for centuries. It’s simple, keeps us focused; more importantly, our audience focused.

Note the three parts of this stalwart advise for speech:

  1. Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em.
  2. Tell ’em.
  3. Tell ’em what you told ’em.
Patterns of Ancient World Coloring Book
Simple. 1.  2.  3.

Three most recent projects on my desk:

  1. Book by illustrator and writer, a family legacy story. Limited edition, printed.
  2. Expanded version of my husband’s first book Saigon Shuffle, which we self-published almost ten years ago. Projected release end of September.
  3. Coloring book for grown ups, I self-published a Patterns of the Ancient World coloring book, available via Amazon.
Three products to assist with your projects:
  1. Slideshare is now part of LinkedIn. Post slideshows, PDFs directly to your LinkedIn profile; great for entrepreneur and business profiles.
  2. Canva: online and tablet platform to to create visuals online; tap into library of free and paid assets. 
  3. Adobe Slate new free iPad app to create visual stories quickly; might be a new method to present to clients or blog. entries.
My youngest is beginning her SENIOR year of high school… where has the time gone
Joann Sondy
Designer & Publisher
mobile: 231-633-0945
social media: @joannsondy
* Adler Planetarium, located along the Chicago shoreline, was the nation’s first planetarium. Opened May 1930, designed by Ernest Grunfeld for Max Adler; the twelve zodiac bronze bas reliefs by Alphonso Ianelli grace the exterior. National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmark.
Storyboarding, Not Just for Filmmakers

Storyboarding, Not Just for Filmmakers

The following is part of a running series of posts, from Create Your Own Great Photo Book; the first “Be a Ruthless Photo Editor” covers activities you can use to take control of your image library.

Storyboarding, Not Just for Filmmakers

How do you organize your images? Stay true to your theme.

Developing a structure based on your time is the foundation to create your own great photo book. And, keep you focused. It can be overwhelming when you’re confronted with a volume of images. Refer to my previous post, Be A Ruthless Photo Editor, to eliminate the unnecessary, poor quality and non-relevant images.

A screen shot of one folder.

Example: My Family Archive. On a rainy Sunday afternoon, I decided to make a dent in scanning the negatives and photographs––which I have two or three large Rubbermaid storage tubs––from my family’s photo archive. I pulled out an armful of ‘stuff’ and began sorting the pieces. Tossing items that had little relevance to the long-term integrity of the archive, poor quality and extremely damaged. Things like out-of-focus shots, unrecognizable subjects, generic birthday & holiday cards, etc. The result, spending time on quality pieces that would convey the story of my family.

Stay Grounded to Your Theme

As mentioned above, developing a structure will serve as your foundation. Using images and text creates your visual story. Most stories are typical: a beginning, middle and end. Let’s take this further.

Tapping into a more sophisticated organization can add more interest to your photo book. Try one or a combination of the following:

4 types of story organization to add interest to your photo book.

Storyboarding your content gives you a ‘roadmap’ to a finish product. Naturally, we want to be flexible as the project progress. Image sequencing and storyboarding is time well spent!

After you’ve experimented with your visual storyboarding with your first photo book, it will become easier the next time. Eventually, challenging your creativity to try new concepts.

Interested in more? Download “Create Your Own Great Photo Book.”

Next: Add cognitive flow within your theme.

Happy self publishing.

Create Your Own Great Photo Book

Create Your Own Great Photo Book

Create Your Own Great Photo Books

  • Have you ever wanted to create your own photo books?
  • How do you start?
  • What are techniques to make it look professional?
  • How do I get it printed?
Create Your Own Great Photo Books cover
Download Free eBook 

Just released a few days ago to select list of followers, now available for you.

An introduction to self-publishing techniques to create your own amazing book using your photographs or illustrations.

Discover techniques to create and publish of your own photo book, plus an introduction to self-publishing options (print and digital formats). Ideal for photographers, illustrators, architects, chefs, historians and many more.

Topics covered:

  • Image Sequencing & Storyboarding
  • Page Layout and Structure
  • Cover Design
  • Image Preparation
  • Overview: Shutterfly, Lulu and Blurb

* eBook format is 21-page PDF, compatible on desktop and mobile devices.
Read Privacy Policy

Dancing In The Dark

Dancing In The Dark

Wow, it’s been a couple of months since I’ve posted anything new for you.  Frankly, I’ve been immersed in some very exciting projects.

Don’t let the title of this post send you looking for Bruce Springsteen on iTunes. 

Can you deliver your speech/presentation in the dark? 

Without the support of visual aids? Ditch the PPT?

Image courtesy Choose Chicago

Many of you know that I’m a docent with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and this year I’m ‘sponsoring’ a trainee. One of my responsibilities is a walk through or demonstration of one of the core tours. 

Due to scheduling, my trainee and I could only agree to meet after work. This is Chicago, it’s dark by 6 p.m. and this week it’s been cold (again) and damp. Not the best conditions to display my expertise. 

Midway through the two-hour tour, Ben, docent-in-training, complimented me on the descriptive speech I used to describe details of buildings on the Chicago Old & New Tour.

After I thanked him, I was surprised when I realized that the darkness added a new and highly disciplinary behavior to my tour. A way to reduce and eliminate some bad behaviors and crutches. 

I wasn’t relying on the illumination of daytime, as I usually do. Instead, recalling specific details expressed with highly descriptive language. Clearly articulating the core concepts, coherently making comparisons to describe details that are seen vividly during the day.

Plan B–No Crutches
This exercise recalled the disastrous and feeble attempts I’ve witnessed over the years when technology fails. You know what I’m talking about: microphone cut outs, the presentation file doesn’t load, the computer shuts down, the projector lamp burns out, you don’t have the right cable, its the wrong file/version, etcetera, etcetera.

A Challenge
I challenge you to deliver your speech or presentation without the use of visual aids. Take it further and step away from the lectern and turn off the microphone. 

Can you express the core message(s) and support it with details to your audience coherently? Delivered with passion and confidence? 

Here’s the link to your 80s rock-n-roll fix, “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen.

Structure & Clarity Rocket Your Presentation

My faith in a well-structured presentation has been restored when a client recently asked:

“Does the flow of the presentation cover all the key points for an investor pitch?”

Referencing my “Universal Pitch Deck–The Ultimate 12-Slide Structure for Any Presentation” it was easy diagnose the client’s presentation:
  1. Overview/Intro
  2. The Problem
  3. The Solution
  4. Opportunity & Market
  5. Technology
  6. Competitive Advantage (USP)
  7. Competitive Landscape
  8. Market Strategy
  9. Financial Roadmap
  10. Management Team
  11. Current Status
  12. Summary

The Competitive Advantage is the pinnacle of the presentation, we lead the audience to crescendo. You’ve got their attention, now guide them to the closing (the ASK).

Interestingly, this presentation replaced text heavy and clip-art slided with well-designed illustrations for the Solution, Opportunity & Market and Technology.

45 Slides in 30 Minutes?

Today, I received a 45-slide deck for review and recommendation. This well-designed draft is currently suited for a tradeshow or business conference not an investor and analyst audience.

The core message is hidden behind complex Photoshop’d backgrounds and overuse of ‘expert’ quotes and illegible charts.

The first step will be the “big picture” view via the Slide Sorter and begin to pull irrelevant slides, shift and combine slides into an articulate story structure focused on the core message for the intended audience.

Structure and clarity should be your creative strategy to stay focused on core message. I firmly believe that your audience will be more responsive. I was just discussing with my client (same PPT) the value he places on ample Q&A time to dig deeper into content and audience engagement.

Celebrate and be safe, happy 4h of July.