What I Put in my Workshop Suitcase

In addition to sketchnoting, I do graphic facilitation.  I used to juggle multiple bags, a roll of big paper, handouts and various computer devices as I schlepped to workshops.  Then I realized that I could simply put everything into a carry-on suitcase with wheels.  I felt a slight sense of superiority when I no longer arrived with half-soaked materials (this was Vancouver, after all) or when I could easily produce an extra set of post-it notes without unloading the contents of three book bags. 

I have finally compiled a list of the contents of the wheeled bag:


For most of my work, I use markers available through The Grove Consultants. They are expensive but the colours are clear and they don’t bleed through most papers.  They don’t have an odor but they aren’t refillable. www.grove.com

For adding shadows to charts, I use Prismacolor double-ended markers in various shades of grey.  These are great but I have to be careful because these can bleed through the paper (and they have an slight odor that I find off-putting).

If I’m desperate, I will use Mr. Sketch Markers with a chisel tip.  The chisel is the key for me being able to craft letters that are vaguely akin to architect-style writing.  Mr. Sketches usually won’t bleed through most paper but they have on a couple of occasions – you’ve been warned.  They often have a candy-scent which I find repulsive (but not as repulsive as traditional ‘poster’ markers).  They are available in every office supply shop or box store.

I have also used Neuland markers and they are lovely (and come in more colours than The Grove’s) but they are even more expensive. Sign up for their newsletter and you’ll be notified of sales and discounts.  http://www.neuland.com 


I use cheap pastels that I got on sale at an art shop.  I’ve recently upgraded to using small pastel sponges instead of pieces of tissue paper.  Two bucks well spent. 


    None of our local printers carry 42” paper so I order paper through the lovely people at HP Canada.  I get the HP Universal Coated Paper-1067 mm x 45.7 m (42 in x 150 ft) which is product number Q1406A.  I have received free shipping and it usually arrives in two or three days.  The only trick is remembering that one side has a coating and you need to use the other side.


    I have ordered white tape through The Grove but it is costly.  I currently use tape from 3M that I ordered on Amazon (the product is 3M 256-1 Scotch 256 Printable Flatback Paper Tape, 24x55, 3" Core, White  by Scotch).  This tape holds large sheets really well AND it comes off easily.  In four years of using it, I have not pulled ANY paint off a wall.  It costs about $15/roll.

    Other little Tickle-Box Treasures:

    • Large Avery Labels – they are my ‘White Out’ for charts. 
    • Pencils and White Art Erasers. I will often also sketch out my rough lines in pencil and then erase the lines afterwards.
    • A Plastic Tube.  I have been surprised by how useful the plastic tube I purchased for twenty bucks has been.  It has a carry strap that I can fling over my shoulder and my charts now arrive without dings in the side of them or rain splodges – which, quite frankly, makes me feel more professional.
    • Large Post-it Notes. During graphic recording, if I need to hold a space for something I’m coming back to capture, I will jot a word or two on a Post-It note and plunk it in the right space.
    • Folding Stepping Stool.  I bought a small, folding stepping stool and use it to help me hang charts. Even through I’m 5’7”, I often need a few extra inches to get the charts in the right spot.  This is easier and likely safer than using a chair.
    • iPhone. To capture a picture of my charts when they are done, I use my iPhone because it is usually with me and, well, I rarely have room to bring my good camera.  I’ve recently bought an Ollio clip lens for the iPhone that should help to capture the wide-angle shots.
    • Extra markers.  For participant use, I have Mr. Sketch markers.  I organize them so that writing colours (black, blue, green, brown, dark purple) are stored together in one set of ziplock bags and accent colours (red, orange, pink, yellow) which are rarely used in group settings are stored in another.
    • Smaller Post-it Notes.  I have these in a variety of colours and sizes stored in ziplock bags for use in workshop exercises.
    • Recipe Cards in a variety of colours.  I like the larger size.  These are oddly useful for a variety of exercises.
    • Dots and Stars. For dot-mocracy exercises.
    • Extra Blank Paper. I usually carry some 8 ½ X 11 as well as 11 X 17.  I will sometimes use this for an impromptu exercise.
    • Scissors.  I need to cut something at nearly every workshop and I’m grateful I bring them.
    • Stapler.  I have a small one and I’m surprised at how often I need to staple things at a workshop.
    • Paperclips.  See Stapler above.
    • Sound Box.  I use a little sound box to play music before a workshop and at the breaks.  I have one made by Logitech, the UE Miniboom, that is very small but offers surprisingly good sound quality and pairs with my iPhone through Bluetooth.
    • Books or resources related to the topic.  I’m a voracious reader and I like to bring related resources to workshops if it is appropriate.

    I put all of this into a rolling suitcase and I’m off.   What is in your workshop kit?

    Julie Stitt1 Comment