Wherever there are words there should be pictures

The Children’s Laureate wrote recently “Wherever there are words let there be pictures”. I agree.

I think that life is more rich and vibrant when we illustrate what we are saying with pictures – either of the drawn variety, or even in metaphor in the words themselves (although this is not what he was referring to).

I love picture books, graphic novels, hand scrawled zines, and in the workplace the infographic, the visual recording of meetings and workshops, the systems diagram. Drawing is not just for kids, it plays an important role in communicating what we mean.

Comics are a great way to express humour and it is the interplay of image and language that creates the space for humour – the discord, the jarring, the pun, the inconsistency. Drawing can show us the shadow sitting behind our words, highlight where our words are being untrue or belying our actions, or give the emotional tone, or scale of our issues.

In art therapy we use pictures and the process of making them to peek under the lid of the conscious mind and see what else we might think about ourselves, or a situation we find ourselves in. We find surprising wisdom in the colours, shapes, proportions and visual references we have chosen; as if something older and wiser and more ‘primitive’ is speaking to us beneath our fancy and familiar words.

Some of my favourite comics also use graphs and charts to create humour, or make wry observations about the world. These tools, once the serious purview of engineers or accountants are now liberated on happy funny wings to speak about the oh so important decisions in life, or to share our favourite lyrics or even least favourite lyrics and enjoy them all over again.

Let there be pictures! Let us speak quickly, happily, and with grave emotion – in the language of the eyes!