The brief was to explore the use of visual metaphors, how they have/are being used to communicate ideas visually, and how they might be used in our own work.
Keywords from the brief:
- Collect as many examples of visual metaphor as you can find
- Choose one from the phrases [from a pre-defined list]
- Create a drawn visual list of objects and subjects which could be used to symbolise them
- Show your drawings to someone else to check their understanding
I took two approaches to my research.
The first was to photograph advertisements that used visual metaphors that I spotted on my commute into London.
This was an a thought provoking exercise. What I noticed was that several Financial Services companies were using visual metaphors to help sell the benefits of their products. Financial products are generally boring and non-visual, so using visual metaphors is a good way an advertiser to explain the benefits of a product or service to a potential customer.
The other thing I found interesting is that financial services is very heavily regulated and therefore risk averse in the way visual imagery and wording is used. I wonder whether the slightly ambiguous meaning of metaphors makes them a more creative way to work around the otherwise strict compliance rules.
My second approach to research was to use the internet where I followed the advice in the brief and looked at editorial imagery; particularly cartoons which use metaphor a lot to explain/have a satirical point of view related to current events.
Here are a selection (there were many others).
Louis Raemaekers’ To your health civilisation!
“To your health, civilization!” by Dutch cartoonist Louis Raemaekers (1869–1956). Raemaekers was an anti-German cartoonist during World War I, especially emphasizing the Rape of Belgium in his polemics. This cartoon also appeared in a later poster series under the title “A Toast to Kultur”.
James Gillray’s – The plumb-pudding in Danger
William Pitt, wearing a regimental uniform and hat, sitting at a table with Napoleon. They are each carving a large plum pudding on which is a map of the world. Pitt’s slice is considerably larger than Napoleon’s.
Gary Barker – Vladimir Putin possibly implicated in connection with the murder of Boris Nemtsov
Patrick Blower – Daily Telegraph 11/06/16
As the Brexit referendum climaxes, MPs from both sides of the House switch sides, including Tory MP Sarah Wollaston who defects to Remain.
The subject I selected from the pre-defined list in the brief was ‘Broken relationship’.
I started by creating a mindmap to generate ideas for the sketches
I then created as many of the images as possible within a fixed timescale.
What I learned from the exercise
What went well
- The exercise made me aware of what a powerful tool visual metaphors are in an illustrators toolbox; something to add nuance and meaning to an image.
- The first bit of research made me open my eyes to really look and see the visual techniques used in advertising.
- I’m currently working on a personal project to illustrate a story about failed relationships (which is why I choose ‘broken relationship as the subject to explore in this exercise). I will use metaphors in the story illustrations to add depth and meaning to the pictures, which will (I hope) add another dimension to the readers reading of the text.
- I enjoyed doing the sketching – it feels like I’m becoming more confident and less precious about image making.
What I would do differently/better
- If I had more time I would have drawn up another couple of ideas.