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What is a visual essay?
Mini Creative Workshop Series
Introducing a Mini Creative Workshop Series: Storytelling in Visual Essays
I'm thrilled to announce a new Creative Workshop Series, designed to provide you with quick, concise, and easy-to-follow guidance. In this mini-workshop, we'll delve into the captivating world of visual essays. By using only visuals (and some text), you'll discover how to curate appropriate images, arrange them in a logical sequence, and write impactful captions that communicate your ideas (if you want to). If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments, chat privately, or email me.
So, let's get started!
The Power of Images
Images are a powerful tool for storytelling and effective communication. Visual design is especially crucial for creating an impactful visual essay. Although it may be challenging to convey a story using only images, when done correctly, it can stimulate thought and even inspire action. It is also a great way to exercise your creative muscles!
What is a visual essay?
A visual essay is a sequence of images or photographs that have been carefully developed and curated to present a critical message, an argument, a defined topic, or generate an important discussion. Some visual essays may include a small amount of text (but I suggest you use it sparingly) and can be developed using a range of media. For example, you might be given a set topic in the form of an essay question or one you have thought of yourself.
How to start
Your first step will be to decide on a topic or question to address for your visual essay. Next, conduct online research and find images that support your topic or create your own. Consider your key message – you might find writing a list or mind map will help refine your thoughts and visual prompts. It is essential that your images are relevant and appropriate to your topic and allow yourself to think in more abstract terms, don’t be too literal with the visuals. I like to call this the research collage.
Organise the sequence
Once you have selected your images, it's time to organise them in a logical sequence. The sequence of images should effectively communicate your ideas and tell a story. Think about how your images will flow together to create a cohesive visual essay. It helps to ‘bookend’ your images with a clear start and finish that first provokes interest and leaves the viewer curious and wanting more.
The topic for my visual essay relates to my research into community-based arts education, and why it is important that all citizens can access and engage in arts and cultural experiences every day.
Design Principles for Visual Essays
Just as in traditional written essays, spelling, grammar, layout, and presentation are all essential considerations in visual essays. I encourage you to examine the basic principles of graphic design to ensure you are making informed decisions that best communicate your message and overall presentation. If you were to complete a visual essay at university, you would also need to include a list of all your image references, typically as an annotated bibliography that provides commentary on your research information and image sources.
Presenting Your Visual Essay
There are several ways to present your finished visual essay, including traditional paper-based forms, cards that can be shuffled out of order to create a tactile experience, and digital formats using presentation software like Canva, Affinity Publisher, or iMovie. Keep it simple and focus on the images themselves to tell your story.
Example Visual Essay in 8 Images
Share Your Visual Essay
Are you excited to create your own visual essay? Share your finished project on Instagram and tag me, use the hashtag #VisualEssayWithZingy. I can't wait to see your awesome work!