Pictures Speak Louder

In light of this whole being a designer thing, I thought it might be worth explaining why. Why am I a designer?

For the past five years or so, I have loved writing. It's been something I've done pretty regularly, just documenting my thoughts - you can see the evidence of it right here. While I can't quite pin down why I enjoy, I think it has something to do with communication. Words are arguably the most definite form of communication: each means something; each has its own purpose in its language and can be translated into others; each is universal, language barriers aside. That said, there's a certain discrete brilliance in the understanding of language and the subtle, hidden messages the simplest of words can hold. For me, though, language alone doesn't seem to provide enough ambiguity.

That's where design comes in. The graphical representation of characters, actions and events is more than matter of fact. To each person, an image is more than just the pixels or vectors it's made of. An image can achieve a level of interpretation that words simply cannot. We've all heard that a picture speaks a thousand words, but that's just not true. A picture, whether it be a truly complex and emotive photo or just a pictograph or icon, provides infinitely greater possibilities of meaning because of one simple fact: pictures engage directly with our sense of sight. Because of this, they're more powerful.

Take just a single part of a picture: colour. For example, even the background of this page is adding something to your interpretation of the text. But this is just a single, solid colour. Consider an image several of several hundred thousand square pixels, each one a slightly different colour. This is something that words simply cannot effectively describe. Colour isn't alone in being beyond the realms of words, though. Shape, form, layout; they're all beyond the words in that, while their details may very well be described, their meaning and their effect when seen simple cannot be copied.

What's more, written expression is limited by vocabulary. It's possible to have an incredibly perfect image in your head, but then have no idea how to express it with words. Graphical representations, however, require simply that you can imagine. Even if the end result isn't as realistic as you had intended, the impression of your idea is still clear. The real beauty of graphic design is that you can take something that everyone can do (express through pictures) and refine it to be the most effective it can be. The most effective pictures resonate more deeply with the person seeing them than the most effective words do.


Reading time: 02:22 Written by Graham Macphee