Pecha Kucha 15

Five speakers, five passions. Twenty slides each, 20 seconds per slide. That was the format of the bi-monthly Pecha Kucha event held September 21 at 5 Points Theater in Jacksonville. More than 75 people came out for a dose of inspiration as they heard from a designer and illustrator, thrift store guru, founder of a Kenyan apparel company, film producer and comic author. Though the topics varied, the underlying message was the same: Pinpoint your passion and do something with it. The event showcased some of the city’s innovative, creative and talented professionals. Thanks to everyone who made Pecha Kucha 15 a success!

Read on for a look at what each presenter brought to the stage.

AIGA Jacksonville’s very own Karen Kurycki was up first discussing “the art of graphic wit.” She explained how humor and design enhance the visual experience and outlined some of the basic methods used to do this—distortion, juxtaposition, repetition, scale, transformation, puns and type play. Then, she shared some of the hilarious illustrations she posts on her blog, Absurd Overheard.

Next up was Vanessa Alvarado, a “thrift instigator.” Vanessa explained how she became an authority on all things thrifting (and occasionally dumpster-diving) and offered tips for first-timers, from “get in the mood” to ”make a thrift list.” She searches for unique pieces, from household items to art, and resells them online and at local antique stores. View her finds at

Chris Markl of Kourage Athletics, a Kenyan apparel company, brought a dose of economics to the evening as he shared about how Kourage proves business can help reduce poverty by providing jobs for locals and creating a high-end product such as the company’s signature lightweight, breathable performance fabrics. Most everything is done in Kenya, from products made by local workers in a Fair Trade factory to the photography and fashion design.

The power of storytelling was the focus of Natalie Halpern’s talk. The film producer and director shared elements that have made her documentaries like “Africa’s Daughters” a success. Stories impact, engage, inspire and compel, she said. Everyone has a story, and telling them helps people connect, learn and empathize, and leaves a legacy. Natalie aims to tell stories that show the good in the world, especially in places like Africa, where the news media often focuses on wars, poverty and other health crises.

Last up was indie comic author Rachel Pandich, whose book “Aspire” was recently published, five years after conception. She gave the audience a lesson in comics, describing the various types, the process and reminding those considering writing or illustrating that, “nobody is good at first.” Rachel developed her passion through many years of practice and by attending lots of comic book conventions. While she might not be writing for Marvel just yet, you can pick up a copy of “Aspire” in area comic bookstores.

We hope to see you at Pecha Kucha 16 in November. Check for more details coming soon!

If you are interested in presenting or volunteering at a future event, contact Stephanie Soden or visit

~ leah, public relations chair
(poster by Birdie Birdashaw)

By aigajacksonville
Published September 26, 2011