Words Like Art

S cookies-cAs writers, we’re focused on finding the right words that accurately convey the meaning and intent of our thoughts. We check for correct spelling and appropriate sentence and paragraph structure to ensure that there’s nothing on the page that might put the reader off. We try our best to draw readers into the story – whether fiction or nonfiction – until it plays like a movie in their heads.

Now take a step back.

What if you were to see letters and words not just as symbols through which the meaning of an idea is conveyed, but also as art in, and of, itself. Forget, for a moment that A is a letter in the alphabet associated with a particular sound. Think of it solely in terms of its construction – three lines connecting at various points. Look at it as if it were simply a piece of art on a wall. What do you think of that shape? What can it mean?

Bruce Nauman, Human/Need/Desire (Photo courtesy of Art Resource, Inc.):

ART194132Now, separating what we see from what we know is no easy task. We have attached to letters and words a slew of meaning, and it’s hard to forget that. We can, however, turn all of that on its head and perhaps arrive at a different or deeper meaning depending on how we structure whatever is on the page. Isn’t that what artists often strive to do? It’s what I would suggest marketing professionals are also trying to achieve for their clients. Wrap a product in red packaging; make the lettering inviting. Tell a story in words and images. Making associations on different levels is how we connect to the world. It’s how we make meaning. When you write your novels, white papers, blogs or press releases, do you think about how the text and images look on the page? Think about it: fonts can be beautiful and meaningful. Maybe it’s just me, but I like to think about that interplay, even if it is only words in paragraphs.

Lawrence Weiner, Over and Over. Over and Over. And Over and Over. And Over and Over (Courtesy of Art Resource, Inc.):

ART457382The point I’m trying to make is that every part of what we create connects (or fails to connect) with our audience on one level or another. Don’t go crazy doing it, but perhaps looking at what you’ve written from an artist’s perspective might be useful.

John Baldessari, I Will Not Make Anymore Boring Art (Photo Courtesy of Art Resource, Inc.):

ART328069

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