GDE710 W5 | Workshop Challenge: Line Drawing


Applied Empathy

For my line drawing exercise, I chose to explore the Applied Empathy model by studio SubRosa and their founder, Michael Ventura, and author of the book, Applied Empathy. This process looks at seven different archetypes that we all embody - some more prevalent than others -- and how a greater understanding of these archetypes can inform how we generate ideas and solve problems.

applied empathy.png

I chose to do an abstract drawing and "take my line for a walk" like in the Paul Klee example from our lecture.

The seven archetypes outlined in Applied Empathy include:

Sage: Be present; inhabit the here and now

Inquirer: Question; interrogate assumed truths

Convener: Host; anticipate the needs of others

Alchemist: Experiment; test and learn at all costs

Confidant: Listen; summon the ability to observe and absorb

Seeker: Dare; be confident and fearless

Cultivator: Commit; nurture and intentionally grow

The idea is that by slipping into the personas of one or more of the Empathic Archetypes you can get out of the subjectivity of your own head, role, or organizational hierarchy, and get into the subjectivity of the other and ultimately be able to generate more effective ideas or approaches to solving problems.

I was inspired by the design used by the author that shows the interconnectivity of the seven archetypes as shown in the beautiful rose gold foil debossed packaging of their correlative Q&E Questions and Empathy: Provocations for Applied Empathy deck of cards.


In addition to Klee, I was also inspired by this seemingly continuous line piece by artist and screenprinter, John Knoerl. I loved the subtle form of the faces and thought this approach would work really well for how much humanity is involved with empathy and the process of Applied Empathy.


So, I set about creating my line drawing by first establishing the overall shape it was to inhabit and marking the boundaries for each of my archetypes:

line drawing applied empathy 1.jpg

I then practiced the basic pathways I wanted to use to create the abstract shape overall as well as each archetype’s individual symbologies:


After two attempts, I was able to land on this final piece (see below) using a continuous line approach. I chose symbols to represent each archetype as follows:

Sage: a Celtic symbol for wisdom

Inquirer: a looking glass

Convener: a candle

Alchemist: universal symbol for alchemy

Confidant: a key

Seeker: the four directions

Cultivator: a heart

Can you see them in my drawing?

line drawing applied empathy final.jpg


Ventura, M. P. (2019). Applied empathy: The new language of leadership. London: Hodder & Stoughton.