The Art Of Storytelling

Many moons ago I bought tickets for The Story conference (run by @matlock), when I first heard about it and read the blurb, something chimed about the idea of focussing on storytelling – not media, or platform, or industry, or any number of other ways of dividing and conquering, but the general idea of storytelling. I wonder if it planted a seed in someways because recently the notion of storytelling has come back to me from several different sources, in that zeitgeisty way things sometimes do

So why storytelling?

Well, for a start storytelling is quite a unique coming together of expert, audience and knowledge. Obviously there are many ways that these three things can combine – the teacher and the student, the preacher and the congregation, the singer and the crowd. But none of them are quite the same as storytelling, the art of storytelling is the transfer of knowledge along with context. In fact context often plays as big a role as the raw content. Maybe even more so…

Expert + Content + Audience

Context is all about what happened around an event, rather than the event itself, its extra data (‘meta data’, to borrow from the world of the web) and the right context can really make something relevant. Perhaps above all else the relevance of information is what makes it ‘stick’. So if you tell a good story you transmit data, and make it stick.

As a designer I deal in the communication of complex ideas to other people on a daily basis and this is where the art of storytelling comes into its own. Whilst design isn’t always about pure innovation it always includes an element of it; the process of design naturally leads new ‘things’ and new things  inherently come without context. This is when storytelling comes in; it allows you to explain something new, but with some kind of context. Context means relevance, relevance means it’ll stick. And in the best cases it sticks so well that the audience becomes the expert and will tell the story to others.

So long live the art of storytelling, especially in the world of design.

2 thoughts on “The Art Of Storytelling”

  1. For me, design has always been about story telling, it’s almost entirely the basis for design. What Is the subject? What do you want the viewer to think of the subject? How can they relate? What emotions do you want to evoke in order to engage with the viewer? When you analyse car ads, fOr example, a lot of what they seemed to be doing is offer escapism and dreamlike vistas that allowed a departure from a reality – ultimately nurturing the idea of freedom,the open road and frivolous regard to your wallet.

    Okay, so that’s advertising… What about a report for a charity or a website for an international broadcaster? Everyone has a story – where they came from or an emotion they would benefit from eliciting from a subject – this can, to some extent, be boiled down to the paper stock you choose, preference to images over copy or even a zingy highlight colour. Your finished piece will say something about the client through your fingertips or the

    1. … Youthful modern buzz of a colour in your eyeballs.

      For me, one of the key facets of design or brand strategy is being able to don a number of differnt hats and take a look at something from several perspectives – examining the Product/client/content and establishing the story that has formed the present brief – maybe looking beyond the brief and replying with some designs that really take the client in a new unexpected direction that whilst it is unusual is entirely engaging and critical in their ‘plot development’.

      Damn, is that the time? I must dash…

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