Storytelling card illustration

Open Storytelling and Dialogue Tool

By Frits Ahlefeldt, HikingArtist

Project about making a free, growing collection of illustrations that can be printed and used as dialogue inspiration on the trails,  with situations, places and characters. A free tool to help people put words and stories on experiences, challenges and perspectives in a lot of different context, like recovery, coaching, innovation, thrive, career-planning, conflict-solving and maybe even therapy

Storytelling card illustration


Sometimes when I show my drawings to people I have noticed that they can relate to some but not to other of my drawings, and again some puzzle them and occupy them in ways that I hope can be developed further as a tool for finding and talking about possible new understandings.

The background

A few years back I tried, as an experiment, to let a group I was out hiking with, pick a drawing each, from a collection of illustrations I had brought with me. The idea was that they should look for a minute on the drawing and then explain to those around them what thoughts it gave them, what it was about.

What happened was great, people started to relate to the drawing they had picked by chance, for a second they would look at it, then go back in time or to some very special place in their mind, as they started to tell small, short stories about things related to their life that was either important, difficult or somehow forgotten, funny or other things.

Somehow it seemed the drawings could trigger thoughts that had been just out of view but now came running onto the stage of consciousness, to present themselves… many times it happened to as much a surprise to the storytellers, as to those around them.

Since then I have realized that there is a lot of other people working with ways of using images to somehow help people remember stories, catalyst understandings and make perspectives appear out of nowhere,  in many context.  People call this way of using images different things depending on the context: could be coaching cards, dialogue cards, lets-get-talking, life-cards, visual therapy and other things, all depending on if it is recovery-related, young people related, career-related or something else.

I have done this talking over drawings –  with my drawings for a long time now,  and in my studio I have collections of drawings on the walls that people look at as they pass by on the street, or come in and sit and look at, while we talk.

I use the drawings in combination with walking but the project here is to make the ideas and the drawings available to others for free, as a community and dialogue building tool…  that can be developed further .

I see it as an open project, where my collections of free CreativeCommons drawings can be useful. And as I make more drawings, they can be included in the collections too, and people can pick between the new and existing drawings and use the drawings most relevant to the context they want to establish dialogues and build understandings or perspectives around.

One of the areas I think this tool can be useful in is when working with recovery. And my first collection of drawings here is about recovery.   Here I have listed 20 drawings in the same square format, but on my site OpenInnovation.CC I am adding more and more drawings and formats to pick from.

Here are my first 25 drawings about recovery that can be printed and used as storytelling and dialogue cards:

Text and drawings by Frits Ahlefeldt,

All drawings under CreativeCommons license By-ND

See my collection of +300 drawings that can be used like these above on my site OpenInnovation.CC

About Frits Ahlefeldt

Founder of - Researching, writing & sketching up thoughts, understandings and ideas for a sustainable future, connecting thrive, trails, places and technology