ARTiculate - Words in Art - 9 wonderful examples

  • By Jacqui Thomas

ARTiculate - Words in Art - 9 wonderful examples

"A picture is worth a thousand words" or so it is said.
The old English idiom refers to the notion that a complex idea can be expressed with a single image or that an image communicates its meaning or essence more effectively than a verbal description does.

So what happens when an image consists of or contains words?

30 years ago when I was studying graphic arts I did a reasonable major paper on concrete poetry where the words are arranged so that they depict the meaning or subject of the poem. A classic example of this is Lewis Carroll’s ‘The Mouses Tale’ pictured below.

I think my fascination with typography in art probably came from that time and developed as my appreciation of art and design grew. To me, the written word adds a new layer and texture to an image and communicates with me on a another level.

I’m not talking about graffiti or tagging, I’m talking about words in art that are beautiful, meaningful and used with purpose.

So, remove yourself from the notion that typography is just a headline or body copy and take a look at these gorgeous examples of typography in art. From the simple to the complex here are 9 artists and examples of their work that I love.
I hope they inspire you to become more ARTiculate with both words and art.

1. Roben-Marie Smith is a mixed media artist, blogger, designer and owner of Paperbag Studios in Florida, whose unique blending of color, elements and design makes her pieces unmistakably recognizable.

One of a series of art journal covers by Roben-Marie

2. Michael Volpicelli from the US has developed a unique style of word art. He uses ink and ballpoint pen on paper to spread his ideas of loving compassion.

From left to right by Michael Volpicelli: Thich Nhat Han, Israel Kamakawiwo`ole, Maxi Jazz

3. One of my favourite local Melbourne artists Leonie Leivenzon starts her works without a plan and not knowing what the painting will be. Then her random markings slowly form into shapes and with layers of paint figures and images emerge and take shape.

'The Three Weird Sisters' available to purchase from Hatch-d

'The Dog is Digging is Again' available to purchase from Hatch-d


4. Jasper Johns is an American painter, sculptor and printmaker, born in 1930. He is famously linked to Abstract expressionism, Neo-Dada, and Pop art.

'False Start' by Jasper Johns 1959

5. Swiss artist Jonas Etter is based in Zurich. This typographic sculpture is made using burnt sugar. The burnt sugar melts in the heat and moist air, turning the pieces into a sort of performance.

One of 29 pieces in the 'Sugar' Series from 2006


6. Prolific Australian artist Loui Jover is known for ink wash paintings on tile pages of vintage books

'Fathoms' by Loui Jover

7. “Dran” by Brussels based photographer, musician and artist Gautier Houba

8. Two fun works by Queensland artist Lesley Taylor AKA PIN100. One a ‘conversation’ piece suited perhaps to a childs room and the other a literal head explosion - A fun, frenzied, eclectic piece for those days when you want to tear your hair out

Dislocated but still cool by Lesley Taylor available from Hatch-d

'Once in a Blue Donkey' by Lesley Taylor available from Hatch-d

9. Bella Volen from Vienna Austria is a creator of beautiful painted and mixed media body art installations 

'The writer of your story is you' 2015 by Bella Volen

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