Back of the Napkin – Dan Roam’s Definitive Picture Book


Today’s society operates dependably upon the hackneyed, but nonetheless pervasive idea that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Indeed, the majority of the population has been raised on a dietary surfeit of visual information from television to mobile devices. The economic efficacy of these methods have led to a paradigm shift in the modus operandi of the modern business, with everything from internal communications to long-range, solutions-driven strategy dependent upon strong visual skills.

While this is great news for all of the graphic designers and visual artists in the world, what does it mean to those of us with sub par abilities to draw. Dan Roam’s wittily anecdotal book Back of the Napkin helps to answer this question with the reassurance that you don’t need be a Rockwell to be a successful visual communicator.

Roam suggests that visual communication is much less about artistic competence and far more dependent on thinking spatially and strategically. This mindset is a matter of one’s ability to do four things: Look, See, Imagine, and Show. From data representations in Excel to full-on PowerPoint productions, Roam demonstrates that problem-solving using a simple visually-oriented process can create deeper engagements and clearer communication.

Unfolding the Napkin is essentially the workbook companion to Roam’s book, and will challenge you to apply the many methods and shortcuts mentioned throughout the book. Anyone who keeps the routine “I can’t draw to save my life” alibi at the ready will appreciate the building blocks approach the book’s exercises employ.

At Knack Training, visual thinking is vital to our success at conveying step-by-step information to audiences of all sizes and experiences.We highly Back of the Napkin and Unfolding the Napkin to anyone with a job that involves any level of communication with coworkers or clients (so basically everyone). Following its advice will make you not only a better communicator on the job, but a more open-minded thinker in life.

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