Words As Images

Stacey Kole By Stacey Kole  |  Mar. 01, 2013

As a writer, I’m particularly drawn to typographic art. Perhaps it’s because the combination of word and art speaks to both the left brain and the right brain — and therein lies the magic.

Designer Ji Lee’s book entitled Word as Image brilliantly illustrates the power of “picturing words”. Currently Facebook’s Creative Strategist and formerly a Creative Director at Google, the Seoul-born artistic genius describes a personal project that began nearly 20 years ago in his art school typography class:

The challenge is to visualize the meaning of a word, using only the graphic elements of the letters forming the word, without adding any outside parts. The challenge was very hard, but the reward of “cracking” a word felt great. So this became a lifelong project for me.

Lee’s book contains nearly 100 different words that prompt the reader to look — and think — a second time. The type treatments are simple, yet layered with meaning. By merely elongating a letter, changing elevation, or mixing font sizes, each word — presented almost exclusively in black and white — speaks for itself. Some scream loudly as you immediately capture the meaning. Others merely whisper, as you work to uncover the symbolism, until the “Aha!” moment grabs you. Regardless, without any added bells and whistles, these inspired images speak volumes.


Which of these designs is your favorite? Could you improve on any of them? Let us know in the comments.