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2018 Member in the Spotlight for July: Phil Bakelaar

What's your name and practice?

Phil Bakelaar, adjunct professor, Montclair State University, PhD, parish pastor, Ocean Community Church, MDiv, The Rev. Dr.

Where are you based?

Manahawkin, NJ–United States of America

How long have you been an IFVP member?

Four years, three on board

How many IFVP conferences have you attended?

Austin, DC, Decatur, EuViz this year, leading two workshops, did a workshop in DC

How many years as a visual practitioner?

6 years

How did you come to the field of visual practice?

I was attending the Pegasus Systems Thinking Conferences in Boston and San Francisco, saw graphic recorders at work and asked where they learned that, attended two trainings at Grove and responded to an invitation to scribe at the NCDD conference in Reston, led by Stephanie Brown, she introduced me to IFVP and Neuland markers. I read the invitation to apply for the IFVP board and wanted to help especially around making connections with universities and working on the 501c3. Have worked on the board now for three years and currently focused on being Chief Technical Officer working on the website revision, the 2019 conference, and the 501c3. 

Share an extraordinary experience you’ve had as a visual practitioner. 

My first major work setting was as part of a team of 8 scribes at NCDD working with Stephanie Brown. The encouragement and support was great, and many of the people are still friends today. To feel part of a community of hundreds of people trying to solve major social problems in collaborative ways is inspiring.

What would like to see from the IFVP in the next 12 months?

I expect us to continue to iterate improvements on the website, to launch the 501c3 and to secure grants for some major educational and scientific projects, and to create learning pathways as part of IFVP member access on the website.

What’s on your bookshelf? Which of the many books published by visual practitioners is your favorite?

All three of the David Sibbet texts are basic along with the spiral books that come from attending Grove tranings. My favorite right now is Brandy Agerbeck’s Idea Shapers, which I used as a central text when teaching a summer graduate class at Montclair State on visual practice. It provides an excellent step by step approach to working with information. I have many other books on OD and the development of visual practice like Bob Horn’s work on visual language and Tufte’s work on information design.

What is the best piece of advice you received from another visual practitioner? 

Get Neuland markers. Don’t get upset with a mistake, just keep going. Don’t doubt that what seems simple and obvious to you will be amazing to other people.

Share some of your outstanding work with us.


That is from one of the first large scale conferences I did for Montclair. There was a very positive reception and from that I have been asked to teach elective courses, speak with faculty continuing education and work on a professional certificate program to be offered through the university.

How can we connect with you online or through social media? 

On Twitter @docbmsu

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