„WHY did you go for this artistic decision?“, they have asked me during every project and every step of the way of my creative process. I have post graduated from three art schools with focus on filmmaking and new interactive media and this was number one question, professors would always ask. It made me cringe but looking back I can´t be more grateful because it helped me define visual language in my audio-visual career.
In my first blog post for VISUALISThink, I want to talk about techniques to help you define your visual languag and why deep understanding of yourself (which leads to knowing your visual language) is the most important thing that will make you stand out. It will also help you create content and visual storytelling that is sincere = loyal audience. It is based on the strong principle „from inside out“. And WHY do I want to write this? Because, Misha (talking to myself), it is time to connect with likeminded people who are interested in levelling up their audio-visual skills. 🙂
Niche Revolution, It Is Important to Know Your Authentic Visual Language
From what I have come across lately, there is a niche revolution in the air. There is a tendency of a fragmentation in communities because people are looking for more authentic and likeminded people where they could belong. YouTube and other video platforms are a niche heaven but majority of creators use it usually only on a surface level – they choose topic but rarely go deeper into how to convey they visual language. There are also groups of independent filmmakers converging around niche topics and they are looking for new creative ways how to connect with right audience. This means, there is a huge growing potential to discover unique visual language. For you as a video creator or filmmaker, it is your chance to create an authentic oasis by knowing yourself more – creating from inside out.
Famous Artist Visual Language Story Example
If you look at most of the greatest visual artists, they have a recurring theme around which they surround their career. Very often it is something coming from deep inside that is the person´s core value. It can be value or a question that people keep searching answers to. I will give you real life example from my favourite film director. Milos Forman. He is Czech but world- famous for movies such as Amadeus, Man on the Moon, One Flew Over a Cuckoo´s Nest and more. He was growing up during 30´s. This time is characterized by coming of Depression, authoritarian regimes and World War II. When Forman was a child gestapo took his parents to a concentration camp. They died of typhus. Forman grew up as an orphan.
Experiences Shapes Us
All of his experience shaped him. If you look at all of his movies, they are different topics on a surface – biographical movie about famous painter Goya or comic Andy Kaufman or story from mad house environment. But in all of his films is covered theme of injustice, from when he was growing up. It is super heavy theme but Forman can tell the stories visually with lightness and clever humour so people love it (winning numerous Oscar for most of his films). Also there are other movies about injustice. Some are great, but many doesn´t truly resonate with the creator and then it lacks the authenticity and strength. So it is important to start looking for what themes you resonate with, so people can resonate with you. Another famous Russian filmmaker Andrej Tarkovski once said: ”if you do art, it is interconnected with your life.” In order to produce believable art, life and art is like sky´s reflection on a lake, they are inside of each other, growing one from another.
What Is Your Story? Introducing 2 Techniques to Find Your Authentic Visual Language
Even if you didn´t go through such a traumatic experience as Forman, you still have experiences that shaped you. One of the best techniques, how to start understanding what you want to create, consist of one question. Which movies do I love and which ones do I hate? Both side of the coin is equally important. Watch those movies and start defining.
Beside that I want to introduce you two powerful and very effective techniques how to start unleashing your true theme, who you are as a creator/ artist… One technique is more visual (mind mapping) and the other is written based (defining core values). After knowing your theme you can start defining yourself visually (there is more articles to come about how to achieve that).
How to Define Core Values?
Firstly, we are going to have a look at how to define core values. When we honor our personal core values consistently, we experience fulfillment. Most of us don’t know our values. We don’t understand what’s most important to us. Instead, we focus on what our society, culture, and media values.
Now here is a list of questions to help you determine your core values. Even if the answers won´t have anything to do with art exactly, it will tell you a lot about your personality and who you are. And then you can start applying these to your creative process. Your artistic voice will become unique.
- What are your three peak experiences?
Time when you felt the best. What was going on? Which values were important to you in these situations?
- What are your supressed values?
Consider a time when you got angry or upset. What value did you supress?
- What is the most important in your life?
Beyond your basic human needs. Is it creative self- expression? Learn new things? Surrounded by beauty?
Next step is také all the named values and put them together into related themes. (example: Values like learning, growth, and development relate to each other).
Now Pick the central theme of each group. After pick the values, that are the most essential to your life. Golden number is between 5 and 10 core values you should end up with. Rank them order of importance.
And last action is to put these values into inspirational sentences. By doing so, you will bring more context into your value and remind yourself why it is important.
Applying these core values into your creative routine takes time. When you create new piece of work, look at the priority of the values and use it accordingly. If for example it is important for you to live sustainable life. Have a look at how can you apply it in your video. You can work with it visually be in the sustainable environment, talk about sustainability in your videos or use minimalistic visual aproach, that will lead to more sustainable life. I will talk about how to work this in different articles.
Introduction to Mind Mapping
Mind mapping is the most perfect organizational tool for our brain. It is very effective because it connects left and right sides of a brain. It activates whole brain. This technique brings out information from a short term memory to a long term. Mind mapping helps coming up with new creative solution, simplifies extensive subject. You basically create a map using keywords and even better pictures and different colors. Starting at the centre where is a core subject and then you develop new ideas.
Many great geniuses in the history used some kind of mind mapping – visual notes, for example Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo or Pablo Picasso.
Leonardo da Vinci is exceptional example of great creative genius, preceding its time. In Leonardo´s notebook with tens of pictures, schemes, symbols and illustrations. This technique enabled him to capture his thoughts. Specially his drawings linked to unrelated fields and creating brand new inventions. His core value is „discovering the unknown“.
My mind map
I was writting my mind map unconsciously. I let my mind to write what is on my mind and it ended up being related to structure I want to create for my new project. So I would like to encourage you to look with fresh eyes on the outcome. It may surprise you what it is actually trying to tell you.
Description: At the core you see my value, leading into three subcategories (film- my creative routine, inspiration – what inspires my creation and skills – what kind of skills i am interested at). Looking at the Film subcategory, you can see that I am interested in female charactes, flashbacks and coming of age stories. With each of these catagories I go deeper and I think of what really excites me. After finishing this, I would do a lot of research on the internet using Pinterest and having some visual inspiration.
I would watch the films that I wrote in the inspiration category and asked myself the question, Why do I like this? And have a look at my core values and it also links.
So this way both techniques – core values and mind mapping gives me a comprehensive picture about what I do care about.
Please feel free to let me know, if you have tried these techniques and what is the outcome.