Arts / Design / Digital / Events

A chat (and a sketch) with Philly Tech Week’s live graphic recorder, Terry LaBan

How his decades-long career has changed during the pandemic.

Terry LaBan and a recent graphic illustration (courtesy illustration)

This editorial article is a part of Design Month of's editorial calendar.

Update: This story's headline has been changed for accuracy. (7/22/20, 11:30 p.m.)

If you’ve been to a Philly Tech Week event in the last few years, you may have spotted Terry LaBan, a live graphic recorder, illustrating on a giant poster in real time.

LaBan’s been in the Philadelphia area for nearly two decades, but he’s been creating art — illustrations, cartoons and comic books — since the 1980s. He’s become a fixture in the event scene in recent years, and created his company, Breakthrough Visuals, for all of his graphic recordings, illustrations, explainer videos and infographics work.

LaBan’s illustration from’s Introduced Virtual event in May. (Courtesy image)

We chatted with LaBan (over Zoom) during’s Design Month to learn about his career and how it’s changed over the years to become more tech-focused, and how he’s faring with a foreseeable future of virtual events.

Though it’s easier to sit at home and virtually participate in an event, he said, you do lose some of the experience.

“Having a graphic recorder at a live event is a bigger, more noticeable thing that provides a lot more engagement in the room,” he told us. “Because you’re creating an object in that physical space. I think that’s a loss [now]. That’s something that I like about it, that’s something that the audience really likes about it. I don’t think appearing in your little window is anywhere near as engaging.”

Check out our conversation below:

Series: Design Month 2020
Projects: Philly Tech Week

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