Metaphor again

I came across the work of illustrator, John Holcroft today and was impressed by the metaphorical strength of his images. I’m sure these images would initiate a lively discussion, theme, project, etc. in the classroom. The captions are not the titles of John’s work. You can read more about the context of his work and see more illustrations here.

You are what you eat

You are what you eat

Trapped within

Trapped within

Snakes and Ladders

Snakes and Ladders

Growing roots

Growing roots

London Subway

London Subway

TV overload

TV overload

The brain is slow to get going in the mornings

The brain is slow to get going in the mornings

What is a metaphor?

According to Buzzle “A metaphor is a substitution of an actual thing with its symbolism. For example, the famous line by Shakespeare – “All the world’s a stage and men and women merely players”, is an example of a metaphor where he substitutes the world with a stage and people with actors, playing their part. Not only is this a profound metaphor that connects the similarities between acting on stage and living life, but it also conveys what the author is trying to say, quite aptly. Thus, metaphors help grasp the real idea, by planting a similar symbolic idea in its place.”

There may be confusion between what is a metaphor and a simile. According to Buzzle “The prime difference between a simile and a metaphor is that while the former only compares the similarities between two entities, the latter goes so far as to equate two similar ideas. The sentence – ‘He was like a lion in the field’ is an example of a simile, but the same sentence when composed as – ‘He was a lion in the field’ becomes a metaphor. In the second sentence, the man is not just compared but equated with a lion for literary effect. Metaphor is substituting the symbolic similarity with the actual idea, while similes stop at identifying the similarity. Ergo, metaphors are much more powerful and potent tools in the hands of good writers as they can convey greater truths symbolically, without explicitly stating them.” Read more at Buzzle.

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Contrast or harmony?

Here’s a collection of images that can be viewed in the context of contrast or harmony.

Not everyone will agree on which of these images could be categorised as contrast or as harmony (or both), and that’s the wonderful thing about imagery – it’s so individual. Most of us will perceive and interpret images based on our personal experiences, situation, mood or circumstances. Some of you will be analytical about your categorisation, most will react spontaneously and intuitively.

Look at these images and once you’ve made a choice, try to define what the elements are that helped you to decide if the image represents contrast or harmony, or if  (and how) it can be described as both.

Images are a good way to promote discussion in a learning environment. No one sees exactly in the same way – looking, re-acting and then analysing images allows us to ‘see’ through other people’s eyes and to learn about each other’s sense of perception. Initial reactions are a start, but when you take the time to think more deeply about what an image ‘says’ to you, a new level of understanding will emerge.

As an artist, the images I have chosen have an artistic appeal to me in relation to colour, space, design and form. As an educator, you could choose any range of images to promote specific discussion related to your area of expertise.

MARIMEKKO patterned hat spring 2013felixinclusis.tumblr.com

MARIMEKKO patterned hat spring 2013
felixinclusis.tumblr.com

Face design images.search.yahoo.com

Face design: images.search.yahoo.com

Boy and water liliessaffron-spice.tumblr.com

Boy and water lilies
saffron-spice.tumblr.com

Red and Paristumblr.com

Red and Paris
tumblr.com

Super dads3-ec.buzzfed.com

Super dad
s3-ec.buzzfed.com

Pink Orange Blue

Pink Orange Blue

Victor Vasarely

Victor Vasarely

Surma Man, Ethiopia news.nationalgeographic.com

Surma Man, Ethiopia
news.nationalgeographic.com

George Harrison & Bob Dylanrockimages.centerblog.net

George Harrison & Bob Dylan
rockimages.centerblog.net

Black and Whiteelledecor.com

Black and White
elledecor.com

Village WindowPhotos by Tony Kearney on Flickr

Village Window
Photos by Tony Kearney on Flickr

Twigs Sculpturearthouse.oulu.net

Twigs Sculpture
arthouse.oulu.net

Spiral stairways3.amazonaws.com

Spiral stairway
s3.amazonaws.com

Organic highwaydesignboom.com

Organic highway
designboom.com

Blendingaquieterstorm.tumblr.com

Blending
aquieterstorm.tumblr.com

People and their shadowsffffound.com

People and their shadows
ffffound.com

Faceonbluepoolroad.com

Face
onbluepoolroad.com

google.co.uk

google.co.uk

Bror Johanssonvickyveiled.tumblr.com

Bror Johansson
vickyveiled.tumblr.com

Generationsconfessionsofapropjunkie.com

Generations
confessionsofapropjunkie.com

Friendsmedia-cache6.pinterest.com

Friends
media-cache6.pinterest.com

Bridgetumblr.com

Bridge
tumblr.com

prickly pear frozen margaritacupcakesforbreakfast.com

prickly pear frozen margarita
cupcakesforbreakfast.com

Turkish artist Mehmet Ali Uysalfbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net

Turkish artist Mehmet Ali Uysal
fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net

a moment. a shiftmedia-cache6.pinterest.com

a moment. a shift
media-cache6.pinterest.com

Jonathan Delafield Cook ’s drawing “Bird’s Nest, 1998”

Jonathan Delafield Cook ’s drawing “Bird’s Nest, 1998”

natcaronphotography.com

natcaronphotography.com

Orange Blueaquieterstorm.tumblr.com

Orange Blue
aquieterstorm.tumblr.com

Explosion of colorsdesert-dreamer.tumblr.com

Explosion of colors
desert-dreamer.tumblr.com

White Center.  Mark Rothko

White Center. Mark Rothko

The forms are similar, the patterns contrast, by Kelly Jean Ohlartfulhome.com

The forms are similar, the patterns contrast, by Kelly Jean Ohl
artfulhome.com

White Birchjeffreymurray.photoshelter.com

White Birch
jeffreymurray.photoshelter.com

San Josemaría Escrivá Church by Javier Sordo Madaleno Bringas

San Josemaría Escrivá Church by Javier Sordo Madaleno Bringas

Purple yellowmoonlightrainbow.tumblr.com

Purple yellow
moonlightrainbow.tumblr.com

njoi.tumblr.com

njoi.tumblr.com

H. Palleiko Designsfrom Flickr

H. Palleiko Designs
from Flickr

Botrylloides magnicoecumflickr.com

Botrylloides magnicoecum
flickr.com

Giuseppe Guadagnoartpropelled.tumblr.com

Giuseppe Guadagno
artpropelled.tumblr.com

Contrast or harmonystylelik.eu

Contrast or harmony
stylelik.eu

gorgeousouboosandshoes.blogspot.com

gorgeous
ouboosandshoes.blogspot.com

all images via

What’s in a brief?

I’ve just been reading a blog by Krishna http://nairkrishna.wordpress.com and am impressed with this statement that appears on it:

“We see what we expect to see. What we know, or think we know, influences us so strongly that we
 are often blind to change, to new 
views and new opportunities. This 
is true in all aspects of life.

The challenge is to see and learn
 everything around us with fresh eyes.”

I love it!

I’ve been thinking about the way I interact with clients who find it hard to articulate what they want when it comes to a visual design brief. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that they don’t have a literal concept in mind – no designer wants to be ‘the pencil’ for someone else’s visual concept, but I do need a brief to help me meet their expectations. However, I also want enough latitude so I can provide concepts that allow the client to “see and learn with fresh eyes”.

I have a wonderful client who willingly embraces the opportunity to see and learn with fresh eyes and who trusts me with total creative freedom. Her briefs are usually something like this:

Client: “I want some images to work as inspiration for some yet to be developed courses that will be aimed at people of different ages, experience and background”

What a wonderfully ‘open’ brief, but I need to get a narrower perspective. I don’t want to set any pre-conceived notions so I try to get more information by asking the client to describe her big-picture thoughts through abstract terms such as emotions, colours, style, relationships and metaphors; eg “if this project could be described as an animal what sort would it be?” “what colours do you spontaneously think of when you think about this project”,  “give me 10 key words that immediately come to mind when you think about this project”, “what’s the main effect and outcome you want”, “what don’t you want” (usually clients are quite clear about this one).

My client really appreciates this approach and from it has evolved a really good working relationship.

Here are some images that I created for such a project. These images were used to inspire creative course titles and content in the early development stages of a learning program, and were then used in a successful marketing campaign for that program.

Revealing the inner self

Revealing the inner self © Bev Puckridge

Fisher in the ocean of opportunity

Fisher in the ocean of opportunity © Bev Puckridge

The voyage of dreams © Bev Puckridge

The voyage of dreams © Bev Puckridge

Flightpath  © Bev Puckridge

Flightpath © Bev Puckridge

Using visual metaphor in the classroom

Images can be a powerful way to generate ideas and promote creative discussion in a classroom. One of the most effective ways to do this is through the use of visual metaphors.

“A metaphor is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something important in common. Metaphors “carry” meaning from one word, image, or idea to another”. http://grammar.about.com/od/qaaboutrhetoric/f/faqmetaphor07.htm

A visual metaphor improves the ability to reason about complex systems.

“Metaphors help us describe, visualize, and make sense of the world around us. For example, a possible metaphor for the brain is a computer. The images this metaphor creates help us to make sense of something complex — many would consider the brain, like the computer, to have intelligence, memory, and organization, and perhaps even to be user-friendly. http://www.learner.org/workshops/nextmove/metaphor/

“Modern advertising relies heavily on visual metaphors. For example, in a magazine ad for the banking firm Morgan Stanley, a man is pictured bungee jumping off a cliff. Two words serve to explain this visual metaphor: a dotted line from the jumper’s head points to the word “You”; another line from the end of the bungee cord points to “Us.” The metaphorical message–of safety and security provided in times of risk–is conveyed through a single dramatic image”.

http://grammar.about.com/od/tz/g/vismeterm.htm

Visual metaphors used in advertising are often simplistic and shallow. When used by filmmakers and artists they are usually more profound and complex in the conveyance of meaning as well as reality.

Look at these images. Each one could be used as a visual metaphor. What implied comparisons do they convey to you? How could you use images to promote complex reasoning and discussion in your classroom?

Michelangelo. Detail from The creation of Adam.

michelangelo-creazione-di-adamo

Henri Magritte. Time Transfixed

Magritte_Time transfixed

Salvador Dali. Detail from The persistence of memory

salvador-dali-the persistence of memory

Edvard Munch. The Scream

Edvard Munch-The-scream-1893