creative:impact - Creativity Grounds This Artist, But Anti-Asian American Racism Is Taking Its Toll

Apr 13, 2021

BIPOC graphic recorder by Yen Azzaro
Credit The Paper Pusher /

Yen Azzaro: graphic recorder, illustrator, serial creative entrepreneur, and arts activist.  She founded The Paper Pusher and applies her talent for the common good and understanding.  She tells Creative Washtenaw's Deb Polich and WEMU's David Fair how she now needs her community to rise up for her and other Asian Americans experiencing racism and acts of violence.  Hear her story on this edition of "creative:impact."

Deb Polich, President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy.  In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.


Yen Azzaro
Credit The Paper Pusher /

Yen is an artist, illustrator, and communications specialist who merges years of fine art experience with corporate and nonprofit know-how to solve problems and help organizations thrive.  She is most sought-after for illustrating topics centered around food, medical and education access; Diversity Equity Inclusion work, BIPOC leadership, mobility and social justice.

 Ten years ago, she was asked to capture a medical workshop at The University of Michigan using mind mapping and graphic recording.  Since then, she has recorded conversations for clients, such as The Kresge Foundation, Fair Food Network and John R. Oishei Foundation.  Yen believes personalized and succinct imagery is most effective and she strives for this with every project.  Her work is on display in lobbies and offices worldwide. 

Yen serves on the board for Mentor2Youth and the Ypsilanti Housing Commission.  Over the last eight years she has facilitated and/or obtained over $64,000 in grants to produce creative projects uplifting her local community.



Ford Motor Company traveling graphic recorder by Yen Azzaro
Credit The Paper Pusher /



Graphic recording is the practice of drawing while a person speaks, in real time.  Hand drawn recording is done on a large sheet of high quality drawing paper with markers.  Via streaming, the paper fills the screen and viewers can see the illustration created before their eyes. Digital graphic recording is just like the real thing but in smaller, digital form.  It's drawn on an iPad in real time during a virtual meeting and can be shared with compatible streaming (like Zoom) software so your attendees stay entertained while you talk.  After the event, you receive a 30 second video to share and watch over and over again.  Digital graphic recording is perfect during board retreats, conferences, vision and strategy meetings, staff workshops and more. 

Michigan graphic recorder by Yen Azzaro
Credit The Paper Pusher /



The Paper Pusher

Yen Azzaro

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at