By Amanda Bates Drawing Research Group 2020
I had a think about exactly what a drawing language might be. Some of the following may seem really obvious, but it strikes me that sometimes we make assumptions about what other people might see as obvious. I’ve edited this a little since posting it on WhatsApp.
An attempt at a definition:
A drawing language is a set of visual conventions, linked to generic styles or stylisation, intended to communicate an idea, concept or opinion. As with a verbal language, it is also rooted in social convention and physiological commonality (such as how the human eye works).
It may be intended for universal understanding, or it may be deliberately exclusive. There may be special knowledge required to interpret some or all of it.
Are “foreign” or unfamiliar drawing languages easier to decipher than verbal languages that we don’t know? I think, broadly, yes, especially if it is visually representative.
Some potential characteristics of drawing languages:
– Use of colour (or not)
– Line drawing (outlines etc)
– Mass drawing& Different ways of representing relative tone (& by extension, colour) eg hatching, flat greyscale/colour, halftone, dots, pattern etc
– References to historical &/or contemporary art / culture
– Use of verbal language (words) – moving away from purely visual
– Use of materials, conventional & otherwise.
– Use of symbolism – objects, shapes, colours, materials…
Some examples of drawing languages:
GraffitiComic art / graphic novels etc Charicature
Engineering drawing / architectural drawingDiagrams (very broad)
Graphs (mathematical, non-representative – various types)
[It strikes me that my list (not intended to be exhaustive!) is very westernised and oriented towards science and popular culture.]
Can you think of any other examples of ‘drawing languages?’ Comment below.