Words and pictures

Pictures can tell a story and words can be nice to look at.


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Quite often they compliment each other. At the very least, if one of them is weak, their combined effect makes it less noticeable.

Sometimes a block of writing beside a picture of something is a nice design element. How much more so when the writing has merits of its own.

I read a book on Typography (text presentation), which argued quite sucessfully that most advertisements containing text looked nice but are in fact almost unreadable.

Why? Because text is often used to add, no pun intended, a special "texture" to illustrations, and the designer forgets about the functionality of the text, that is, text can be read, it has meaning beyond its appearance.

The picture in the advertisement speaks to the audience and the words are just there to add, of all things, a graphic element. Perhaps most people never give more than a glance at a billboard or a magazine ad, so the text is rarely read except by that small fraction of viewers who are unusually curious or obsessive.

Maybe advertizing designers know people better than we know ourselves. Images are quickly and easily viewed but writing has to earn an audience's attention. It's often not worth the effort it takes to read it.

On the other hand pictures can be very superficial but writing, even a single sentence, can be quite profound and stay in one's mind for years.

They're two different genres of art, really and when combined produce a third, the illustrated or illuminated genre.

You can't separate the textual and graphical elements from each other in an illustrated or illuminated work. It would be like cutting the words out of a Toulouse-Lautrec poster: something would be missing, it would be like a silent movie.

Whoa, it just hit me. Advertising: The Illuminated Manuscripts of our time.
 

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