Using Parables to Think Visually

This is part three of a three part series of articles that discusses visual thinking devices you can use to enhance your visual message.

As children we have so much to learn, so many things to experience, and a plethora of skills to master. And it is during such times when those closest to us — our parents, siblings and relatives — are there to help us better navigate the journey of life. However, oftentimes we find it difficult to understand certain concepts, ideas and lessons, because unfortunately we lack experience. Everything seems new, unique and different, and this subsequently means that we tend to make a lot of mistakes.

In order to help us avoid these mistakes, those closest to us teach us about life by sharing stories, reading stories, or reflecting on personal experiences. Some of these stories are built upon the foundations of metaphors and analogies. Other stories might use similes and allegory to get a point across, while others are built upon fantasy or personal experience.

No matter what these stories are about, and no matter what messages of wisdom they contain, one thing is crystal clear: they help us to understand the lessons we need to master to better navigate our journey through life, because they are aligned with our mental models of the world.

We understand the key messages within these stories because we relate to them, we understand them, and we are able to use and apply them immediately into our lives. As such, is it any wonder that stories continue to be of great value to us as adults? After all, we watch movies at the cinemas because we simply can’t resist a good story. In fact, oftentimes, we might not even be consciously aware of the lessons that these stories teach us, however, unconsciously we are learning all the time.

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Using Similes to Think Visually

This is part two of a three part series of articles that discusses visual thinking devices you can use to enhance your visual message.

Within the previous post we discussed how to use metaphors and analogies to help you communicate your visuals in more effective ways. Within this article, I want to explore two more devices you can use to present your visuals and thereby influence peoples’ mental models of the world.

What is a Simile?

A simile is a figure-of-speech that directly compares two different things, often incorporating the words “like”, “as”, or “than”.

Both similes and analogies make comparisons between two things — allowing them to remain distinct in spite of their similarities. Metaphors on the other hand compare two things directly — effectively making the two things, one.

Similes are important devices to use while thinking visually because they allow you to present information in a way that people can immediately relate to. Moreover, unlike metaphors, they can be as precise as you want them to be.

Have a read of the following examples and envision first, how you would visualize them, and secondly for what purposes you could use them to represent your concepts and ideas.

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Using Metaphors to Think Visually

This is part one of a three part series of articles that discusses visual thinking devices you can use to enhance your visual message.

Metaphors, analogies and other related devices, that I will discuss within this series of articles, are as critical to visual thinking as color is to an artist. Without the use of color, an artist finds it excruciatingly difficult to develop their full capacity for creative self-expression. Moreover, their artwork lacks character and often fails to deliver their intended message.

Color generates passion, excitement, or mayhem — moving people emotionally in whichever way the artist originally envisioned. It creates involvement — immersing people into a world of endless possibilities, that are shaped by the artist’s unique personality and perspectives.

Metaphors Shape Our Understanding of Reality

Metaphors and analogies are used constantly to help us make sense of the world we live in. In fact, they shape our understanding of the world and subsequently our mental model of reality. Moreover, they assist us with making more effective decisions and choices about the events and circumstances of our lives. They also help inspire, move and motivate us forward on a daily basis.

When it comes to visual thinking, these devices provide you with a means and a way to communicate your visual message in a meaningful manner that helps build understanding, awareness and familiarity. They align with people’s mental models of the world and subsequently provide a deep sense of connection with the information you are sharing with them.

Without these devices visual thinking would be much like an artist without color — an artist nevertheless, but an artist with far less creative self-expression.

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