These famous words originate from a Chinese proverb. “One picture is worth ten thousand words.” In the early 20th century the phrase became more common and is widely attributed to American Frederick R. Barnard, who claimed the phrase’s source came from a Japanese philosopher, in the piece he published on the effectiveness of graphics in advertising, entitled “One look is worth a thousand words“, in Printer’s Ink, December 1921.
“Every picture tells a story” is another famous saying, and for the viewer looking at graphics or an art piece this is what captures their attention and unravels a tale in their mind as they look at the piece. The viewer either responds to the “story” depicted or it does not resonate with his or her imagination or emotion and they will move on.
The Artist creating this piece is faced with a difficult job, firstly how to best say what the message is they want related and then choosing the right media and technique to ideally relay these “thousand words” as simply as necessary for a strong impact.
Sometimes the artist finds an inspiring picture which says it all, and can just be modified to leave out the arbitrary details, but sometimes an artist knows what he or she wants to say but confronts a plethora or possibilities and has to delve deep to decide upon the most powerful way to create it.
The duty of the artist is to express society and the times we live in for everybody, and whether he or she reveals what’s meaningful to themselves as well as their viewer, either by exorcising their demons or those of society, or by glorifying our innate sense of divinity, the result is art! Perhaps not always art we would hang in our living room – (this subject being another topic entirely for another day) – it is still art relaying a message, which is why advertising uses images rather than just the spoken word and why we love cinema because we are essentially visual beings.
( The image I have used as an example is my oil painting entitled “I Hear You My Brother”)