Humankind has always been fascinated with storytelling. From cave paintings, to classical novels, to bedtime stories, to the newest blockbuster film, we are narrative-obsessed beings. Telling a strong story is an art, and all good art tells a strong story. But what exactly makes for effective communication, and what mediums are available for expressing creative ideas?
The most important thing in any story is the underlying emotion. Unless people can relate to an idea or produce some sort of empathy for it, they won’t care. So for an idea to work, it has to be real to the maker first. Otherwise there will be no sincerity in what’s being made and it won’t be believable. Acclaimed Disney animator Glen Keane always says, “you live in the skin of the characters you create.” In animation, in order for an action or an expression to inspire emotion, the animator really has to step into the character’s shoes and believe in what their character is experiencing. Even the best communicator will have nothing worthy to say if the feelings aren’t real to them.
It’s vital to recognize that this principle isn’t just for artists or animators. An artist is a visual storyteller, but successful communication can be beautifully illustrated in a myriad of mediums. Dancers tell stories by the strategic movement of their bodies, musicians by the emotive symphonies and sounds they produce, a writer by his words, a director by his vision. Marketing companies, web-designers, business owners: they all have something to say. And as long as they have a strong narrative in mind and a strong feeling in heart, they can create a compelling enterprise.
So, the more a storyteller is purposeful with a view to evoking an emotional response from the audience, the more successful they will be at the end of the creative process. For a visual storyteller like an illustrator or animator, this means planning for and being decisive about color, composition, lighting, camera angle, expression, staging, posing, character design and more. It can be overwhelming having all these variables, but when we really allow ourselves to feel what we want to come across in our art, the decisions become clear and intuitive.
So when embarking on sculpting a message, whether image-based or otherwise, the first question that needs to be asked is this: what kind of story are you trying to tell? Answering this question will guide the aesthetic decisions and clarify the heart of a project so that it comes to life. Before drawing or making anything, the scope and personality of a piece needs to be planned out. “Think before you draw,” the first animators used to say. That’s why storyboarding and thumbnailing is such an important part of production.
Passion is the key to bringing all these things together. As noted earlier, they won’t care if you don’t. So if you have something to say or a story to tell, rally behind it, dive head first into it, and be passionate about it. You’ll surprise yourself with how much better you’ll perform creatively.
This is precisely what we strive for at Triscari. Our commercials, web-designs, video projects, motion graphics, and logo designs are all aimed at communicating the ideas of our clients by telling their story in a clear, compelling, and entertaining way. Often, this involves the combination of many artistic mediums, which is an especially exciting element about what we do.
We are all narrative-obsessed, but how fun it is to go from just enjoying all the stories already out there to telling our own; to be able to hone our creative abilities and channel real emotions that turn into forms of expression; to take into hand our own opportunities to make people feel something, believe in something, care about what we care about. So to all the artists, dancers, musicians, authors, and designers out there: what’s your story?
WRITTEN BY ABIGAIL BONNETT, PRODUCTION DESIGNER