I was honoured to be invited to do some writing for the lovely Sheri Andrunyk and Insightful Communications Partner Publishing a little while ago. She asked me to talk about the role art plays specifically for authors. However this blog, divided into two parts, can support a number of people out there hoping to use art as a voice for their work. Enjoy!
Part 1 – Art Tells a Story
You’re an author. You teach and tell stories through written words and you want your words to stand out against the unlimited online landscape that is the internet, as well as in physical bookstores.
How do you do that?
The saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I fully support this statement and believe that you can sometimes find incredible treasures hidden in the most boring skins. Unfortunately, “boring” gets lost amongst the mass amounts of stimulation flooding our phones, TVs, and computer screens these days; and your viewers do not have the millions of hours it takes to sift through this saturated market to find you. That’s why you need to make your words stand out. One way to do this is to pair them with the right image.
Art tells stories too, and if you can use the language of art to help enhance your words, you’re likely to stand a better chance to get spotted in the torrent of media out there.
The Language of Art
The question still remains, “How do I do that?” Firstly, it’s important to understand the language of art and how it speaks to its viewers. By using colours, lines, shapes, contrasts, perspectives, and a number of other elements and principles of design; art evokes feelings, emotions, and moods. Often one image can be interpreted in a variety of different ways, and that’s why your content is so essential as well.
Consistency and Clarity
In my own journey into the entrepreneurial world, these two words have been spoken over and over to me; consistency and clarity.
It’s so important to know what your message is to the world, and communicate it in a clear and concise manner. Once you establish this, then everything you do and say needs to express that too. Make sure your blogs and other social media posts reflect that message as well, and choose imagery or artwork that best suits and further projects your intentions.
Dive into the world of creativity and don’t be afraid of the visual aspect of it just because, up until now, you have allowed yourself to think that your creativity stops with words. It doesn’t! Open up to the language of art and you will be surprised by its voice.
Part 2 – Principles and Elements of Design
Whether selecting an image or hiring an artist, look at the principles and elements of design each convey. There are many, and it would take forever to go through them all, but the main ones to pay attention to are line, colour, texture, balance, emphasis, movement, and unity.
- Are the lines rigid or flowing, bold or simple?
Rigid and geometric lines reflect cityscapes and an industrial identity; where flowing, fluid lines are organic, reflecting nature and movement.
- What mood do the colours convey?
Pastel peach, pink, and coral colours often reflect more feminine qualities. Different tones and hues of blue remind people of water or sky, which can evoke feelings of floating, calmness, and openness. Greens and browns are earthy and often bring the viewer closer to nature. Bold colours of red can be powerful but also angry. Yellow is happy and excited. Purple hues almost always have a sense of royalty, as if naturally regal.
- Does your choice of art or imagery include textures?
When you look at the imagery can you see a variety of textures that you know would feel different to the touch? Textures can significantly change the look of an image. Texture often reflects raw materials, makers, and builders of things.
- Is there balance in the imagery? And if there isn’t, is it purposeful?
Balance can be created or not created in a number of ways. I’d say the most obvious ways would be by using colour and space. Is there a lot of negative or unused space in the image and, if there is, is there a reason for it? Is the colour spaced well throughout the image or focused to one area? Balanced images can create a sense of purpose and organization, however, unbalanced images are often far more interesting to look at. Just make sure that whatever it is, it makes sense in relation to your message and content.
- Is there one thing in the image that deserves emphasis?
You can create emphasis either by off-centering something of importance or using bolder colours, contrasts, or lines in that spot. Once again, make sure that whatever it is you are drawing emphasis to directly reflects your message, and is purposeful.
- Does your eye move around the image creating movement?
When you look at the artwork, what do you notice first, and what do you notice last? Has your eye been carried around the whole image between that first thing and last thing, or was something missing? Did your eye float off the page somewhere? Was the last thing you looked at going to bring the viewer back to the topic at hand and want to continue reading?
- Is there Unity?
Basically, do all the above principles and elements of design work together in your chosen image? Are they representing your message? Does everything tie together nicely?
Your Audience’s Perspective
I encourage you to really look at the art and imagery from your audience’s perspective. At the same time, remember that art is subjective.
The examples I have shared above are based on my own knowledge and experiences, as well as the thousands of art critiques I participated in during my university career. All of these things help me create an interpretation of an image or a piece of art, and everyone brings a little something different to their own interpretation whether they are doing it consciously or unconsciously.
Being able to read a piece of art somewhat analytically will allow you to have a small glimpse into how some of your viewers may be interpreting your message through the choice of imagery you use. Consider the opinions of your trusted inner circle and professional team as well, to make sure you are on track.
And most importantly, enjoy every bit of the creative process, the art, imagery, and words, as your precious work comes to life!
Do You Have a Story to Publish?
Again I have to thank Sheri for inviting me to share this piece of writing with her online community. If you missed it there I am glad you tuned in to see it here on my own site.
Remember that if you have a story in you or already in a word document but you are unsure what steps to take next, please contact Sheri at www.icpublishing.ca to learn more about the Partner Publishing route. Sheri’s kindness and gentle mannerisms immediately sets the tone for your experience with ICP. Her incredible team of editors, typesetters and more will support you from editing, to printing, to published book and all the in-between.
If you are in need of artwork or illustrations please send me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you as quickly as possible. I am currently wrapping up two illustration projects that I CANNOT wait to share with you!!
Keep following the blog for more information on my services and the illustration and commission processes!
Happy Creating! xo