The Poetic Dimension: Reading Words and Reading Images

By Donald Tarallo.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As society shifts from text to image-based media, cultivating meaningful relationships between the audience and the visual representation of content is a critical and challenging task. For graphic designers, the ability to combine words and images is powerful as they have control over both verbal and visual authorship. This paper focuses on reconsidering the conventional patterns of reading words and images in an effort to define the “poetic dimension” where the dialogue between words and images generates a more multi-dimensional encounter with the concepts behind them. In today’s image-saturated society, it is easy for the viewer to loose sensitivity to content delivered in a visual form, and therefore it is designer’s task to restore it. This study identifies different relationships between words and images through looking at examples of graphic design, haiku poetry, haiga art, and expressive typography. Discussed here are the varying ways in which these works open poetic dimensions and facilitate a more active role in the reader’s creation of meaning. Unlocking the poetic potential in visual communication helps graphic designers to neutralize the bombardment of visual information that is unimaginative and uninteresting in visual culture today.

Keywords: Graphic Design, Visual Communication, Images, Typography, Poetics, Haiku, Haiga, Basho, Japan, Participatory, Ambiguity

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.451-458. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.364MB).

Donald Tarallo

Assistant Professor, Art Department, Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, Massachusetts, USA

Donald Tarallo has his BA in Studio Arts and Graphic Design from Clark University, his MFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design, and he studied in the “Weiterbildungsklasse” at the Basel School of Design in Switzerland. During his graduate studies at the Rhode Island School of Design he was a research assistant on the “Universal Web Design Project” where he helped develop web accessibility guidelines for graphic designers. He has worked as an art director and photographer in Oslo, Norway, and as an identity designer at Interbrand in Seoul, Korea. Since 1998, he has maintained a freelance practice working on projects in identity, publication, and web design. He has worked on the development of new a identity systems for Sotheby’s, Icograda, and the Hong Kong Design Institute. Since 2003, Don has been the design consultant for Community MusicWorks in Providence; one of the top fifty after school arts programs in the United States. He is a recipient of a Marion and Jasper Whiting Fellowship for research on the history of typography in Rome, Italy. Don has taught graphic design at Clark University, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art (China), Rhode Island School of Design, and the Samsung Art and Design Institute (South Korea). His work has received awards from the American Institute for Graphic Arts, the Graphic Communications Industry of Rhode Island, and his work and essays have been published in China, Japan, Korea, and the United States. He is a member of American Institute for Graphic Arts and the Society of Typographic Aficionados. Don is an Assistant Professor at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts.


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