Besides my dad who taught me so much, I’m perplexed by how few of my teachers pop in my memory. I could chalk this up to daydreaming in class which was almost a diagnosed condition for me (my 3rd grade teacher had my parents in to tell them “Gary is slow.”) And I think the source of my daydreaming came from immersion in Nature at an early age (Hawaii) and culture (Italy for two years.)

It is “moments” that pop. Drawing bookmarks in an art class in grade seven. Being called Pancho by my Spanish teacher. A parasitology research project…

Reflecting on those times in the past couple of years I’ve been lucky enough to do things that help people with difficult challenges.

Illustrating how a rapid diagnostic tool can prevent the spread of a contagion in hospitals. Particularly important since the storyboard can convey to non-english speakers all over the world, how the technology works.


Thinking through how a CSI-like, DNA intelligence tool can aid in the identification of people in laboratories or in the field.

Catharsis takes many forms. One of them is giving creative expression to fears we have, and by doing so, exercising some degree of control over them. WordsEye ( allows artists and non-artists alike, to pause and reflect, spontaneously generate 3D scenes, and see fears in a new light and from a different angle.

The following images have been generated during this COVID-19 crisis — in many cases just created with a few words. Click on the links (below the scenes) to see the full language used to create the images.

Fear #1: Lives upended, “The New Reality” by Lespaulguy

A large boy is 30 feet in front of a…

An illustration for Finn Brunton’s upcoming book on the history and state of cryptocurrency

As chronicler of Cornell Tech’s Digital Life Initiative, I shed light on AI with a focus on ethics, policy, politics, and quality of life. The subject is ripe for visual interpretation: from exploring “catness” in AI Bias, to examining the question of ostrich-like complicity amongst Facebook’s growth hackers, to looking at unfairness in Tel Aviv service smart service offerings based on infrastructure disparities. Sometimes the drawings illuminate a dark space, like that of Intimate Partner Violence, bias in Kidney Distribution, or the potential for AI to serve as “Moral Advisors.” Other times, the drawings reflect a carnival atmosphere, with audiences…

Drawings on the wall near my desk in the Bloomberg Center on Roosevelt Island

The Runway Startup Postdoc Program teaches postdocs how to be both scientists and entrepreneurs. Offered within the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, it is part business school, part research institution, and part startup incubator. Along with the robust financial and strategic benefits of the program, Strategic Design offers these startups critical ground support they can use to take flight. The skillset I employ as Strategic Designer in Residence has been refined over years in both hi-tech environments such as AT&T Labs Research, Sarnoff, and IBM, and high-end experiential design firms.

What is Strategic Design?

Strategic Design provides a strategic bridge between startup…

Bill Buxton, the great Microsoft UX designer wrote me a nice note out of the blue one day. Needless to say, I was blown away:

Dear Gary,

I just stumbled across your blog and had to drop you a note. I love your drawings from almost every perspective — imagination, whimsy, depth, technique, … Just really nice work. You just made my day (week?).

Thanks for sharing them! Any time we overlap somewhere, I’d love to buy you a beer. J

All the best.

Bill Buxton

Tangible moments of connection like this, with people you admire, fuel your excitement to…

A mermaid mosaic by Cathy

A psychiatrist friend recently said, “There is no win in being just like anyone else in your family.”

Instead of carving out a spot between the 3D-ness of my wife’s costume and mosaic work, and the 2D-ness of my illustration and cartooning, our kids leapfrogged the visual arts, and landed squarely in the performance space — a bold, defining act of innate skills fueled by passion.

Zach was a highly verbal, idea-oriented first born from the get-go. An early incident with an Orangina bottle crashing through our third story apartment window in NYC gave him a preternatural ability to listen…

It’s common to hit points in our careers, when we have to choose between two or more compelling job options. With creative people who are always “in the process of becoming,” this challenge may be even more pronounced, the potential outcomes more malleable. At times like these, our ability to project ourselves into various scenarios does much more than just give us some anticipatory “job training”. It prepares us to embrace and manage some wild and unpredictable turns.

During one such deciding moment, I found myself thumbing though a cover story entitled, “Gurus of Innovation” in Business Week. Excited by…

The “Amazing Generalist,” WordsEye scene by zamchick

Joshua Walton, until recently of Microsoft Hololens, used the G-word to describe me in a LinkedIn post. He went on to say, “…Gary can do a drawing, act out an interaction, diagram a complex system, and vividly present experience design all in a days work.”

At first glance, I thought the “generalist” label might convey that I’m some sort of alien life form :-) What employer wouldn’t scratch their head over that one? But the fact is, I wouldn’t change a thing. …

The Thinker, a WordsEye scene by boneybird

A lot has been written about the state of flow — those moments when an individual is so engaged in a task that the world disappears. Less is known about what enables teams or organizations to experience this same kind of productive, immersive experience. This post explores how creative thinking can provide this necessary ingredient— the salt that lets the pasta water boil at a lower temperature.

My friend and mentor, Gregg Vesonder, commented on how I think during a recent visit to Stevens Institute of Technology. Putting his credibility as a PhD in Cognitive Psychology on the line (jk!)…


WordsEye Co-founder. Illustrator of the best-selling "French for Cats" books. Strategic Designer. Contact me at

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