Images Versus Words

By Joe Miller | February 12, 2015

Joe-Images vs Words Blog-Header

In the battle of words versus images, who wins?

Here’s my recurring scenario: Images are everything. Nobody reads anymore. Media is all about the image. That’s what I’m told, even by clients (though they very much care about the copy I write for them).

Being the contrarian that I am, I know beyond doubt that people read all the time.

Working in a studio with talented visual artists and designers, it is sometimes difficult to argue the value of language. Outvoted often by colleagues who “see” things, I muster all of my limited language skills to argue on behalf of my text. Usually, I am edited into submission (they’re usually right, too).

As a lover of imagery, often struck silent when confronting a remarkable design, painting, photograph, or sculpture. As I stare and the image seeps into my unconscious being, words fall down like rain, one drop here, one there, until I’m fully soaked. The feelings that have slipped into my conscious self, loosed by the pondering of a single image, become language. That’s when words are magic.

They paint pictures, but not just pictures. They unleash deep feeling. They invite you into the depth of human experience. They can tell a whole story, beginning to end, no matter how long that story takes. That’s why words are better.

Back in reality, to bridge the gap between image and text, my colleague, Jameson, likes when I explain a creative concept or direction to him until he can “see” it. Then he sketches until he feels it’s right. Then the design takes shape and is crafted and polished until it is finished.

So, in our world, an image is equal to the words it takes to make it, or the words it inspires. It is not a battle to be won or lost, but one in which strong alliances are forged and sent forth to conquer new markets.

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Author

Joe Miller

Joe delivers copy, generates concepts, and helps determine strategy. He’s been doing it since 1991 when he started working with a small downtown Cleveland marketing firm. Joe joined the designRoom team as a freelance writer in 1993. He has an annoying knack for finding the core of a problem and the heart of a solution. He also makes the best coffee in the office. In early 2008 he joined the Marketing & Communications team at the Ohio Lottery. While there, Joe led the team that developed and implemented the Lottery’s first-ever social media initiative and crafted the Ohio Policy and Procedures and Terms of Use that guided all the Lottery’s social media involvement. In addition, he created a Winners are Everywhere campaign and managed the creative agency responsible for its implementation. Joe is also a professional musician and educator and occasional composer. He’s the Jazz Trumpet faculty and Jazz Combo conductor at Cleveland State University and has performed all over the world.

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