The Poetic Dimension: Reading Words and Reading Images

Publication Date


Document Type



As society shifts from text to image-based media, cultivating meaningful relationships between the audience and the visual representation of content is a critical and challenging task. For graphic designers, the ability to combine words and images is powerful as they have control over both verbal and visual authorship. This paper focuses on reconsidering the conventional patterns of reading words and images in an effort to define the "poetic dimension" where the dialogue between words and images generates a more multi-dimensional encounter with the concepts behind them. In today's image-saturated society, it is easy for the viewer to loose sensitivity to content delivered in a visual form, and therefore it is designer's task to restore it. This study identifies different relationships between words and images through looking at examples of graphic design, haiku poetry, haiga art, and expressive typography. Discussed here are the varying ways in which these works open poetic dimensions and facilitate a more active role in the reader's creation of meaning. Unlocking the poetic potential in visual communication helps graphic designers to neutralize the bombardment of visual information that is unimaginative and uninteresting in visual culture today.

Original Citation

Tarallo, D. (2011). The Poetic Dimension: Reading Words and Reading Images. Design Principles and Practices, 5(6), 451-458.

This document is currently not available here.