The power of story is
enormous: shared stories mould friendships, communities, nations and
empires. The whole science can be thought of as stories in mathematical
and academic garb.
Stories give us what we
crave most after breath itself: meaning. And small stories can be as
potent as big ones; in fact, it is often in small stories that the human
universals are most readily expressed and found.
Documents like Scotland's
Declaration of Arbroath and the American Declaration of Independence -
both of them stories in their own way — should amply persuade us that
words don't need pictures. They don't. But well-chosen images can frame
words and draw attention to their significance.
In handling on your stories
through a With Love project, you may find that your master copies are
helped by including a few pictures. So long as you are not selling copies
of your work, you can lift images from almost any source: magazines,
postcards, books, the Internet. But you can often make your own.
It is worth experimenting
with a photocopier. It is cheap and easy, and the images you can get from
repeatedly enlarging or reducing a photocopy of, say, a handful of spring
flowers, a piece of fabric, leaves, jewelry or other objects can be
dramatic. Try copying objects with the plate cover up as well as down.
Repeatedly enlarge a
photo-graph and it can begin to look like a woodcut. Touch it up as you
like, or make a collage, and reduce that image: some-thing new again will
You can also get good
images from computer scanners and digital cameras if you have access to
them. But avoid using colour. It almost invariably fades, and different
hues can fade at different rates. The most enduring image, short of
engraving in tablets of stone or gold, is produced by the car-bon black of
photocopy toner sealed in its jacket of resin.
Experiment, and you are
likely to find you can produce all the illustrations with your With Love
project stories will need quite cheaply using an enlarging/reducing
photocopier. These days, such photocopiers are dotted around in libraries,
offices, print shops and photocopy bureaus in al-most every community.
- Scale images to sit
pleasingly with the design of your master copy pages.
- Most pictures seem to
point in a particular direction: the eye is led up, down, left or right.
Place pictures to "point" inwards, towards the biggest block of text;
never off a page.
- Avoid pictures with big
areas of solid black or white; try reducing the size of such pictures.
- Use computer scans .or
(from a printer's shop) screened bromides for images where you want
reasonably clear detail: a person's portrait, for example.
- If a photograph can equal
1,000 words, 1,000 words can equal a photograph. The current emphasis on
image over content and the maelstrom of imagery accompanying the
information revolution, have a lot to do with the primitive state "new
technology". Just as literacy grew up from and took its place beside
pictorial representation, so will words reassert their value in the still
forming worlds of the pixilation. Words, and literacy, occupy the very
human ground that exists between the fluidity of image and the rigidity of
In forthcoming issues of
The Family Tree, I'll cover more of the ideas from the "With Love"
workshops and give you as much help as I can. I love doing these workshops
and, if at any point you'd like to be in touch, write to me at: The Wesley
Manse, Shieldhill Road, Reddingmuirhead, Falkirk, Scotland, FK2 ODT, or
you might like to e-mail