Stefanie Posavec


20 Monday 20th June 2011

Stefanie talks to us about her project 'Words without Words, a visual analysis of the written works of some of English-language's most eminent figures.

Where did the inspiration for the Words without Words project come from?

I wanted to create a project that focused on two of the things I love most: English grammar and the book On the Road, by Jack Kerouac which I loved when I was a 16-year-old.

Why do you think creating a visual language for words is important? Is it because it’s rarely been done?

I created this project with the hope that I might be able to find new insights into the novels I was looking at and discover things that might not necessarily be found from a traditional reading of the book. I also wanted to find a way of taking a work of literature and converting it into another form in order to excite viewers about the hidden patterns in a literary work.

Do you think by creating a visual language for words it will help the reader to further understand the text?

I think so, though of course viewing the text in this way should never function as the only way a reader experiences a work of literature. I see it rather as a supplementary view of a piece of literature.


Your artwork could be seen as data-like, almost scientific in nature. What made you choose the methods you used to represent your findings; was it a conscious decision?

It probably arose from the fact that I needed a way of measuring the information in a work of literature in an objective way in order to consistently compare two different texts. Numbers - number of words per sentences, numbers of sentences, grammatical parts-of-speech etc - are the easiest way of gathering consistent information from a literary work.

After working in this way on this project, I've found that I enjoy creating work from using such a methodical manner.

You tend to show your approach to your project through various development stages. How do you feel the way you’ve presented your work communicates your intentions behind the project?

I find the process of gathering the data and sifting through the text as important as the visual outcome. The process is very important for me, as one of the main reasons that I work in this way is to engage with a subject on an intensive level and learn more about the subject I am gathering data from. Projects like this are how I ‘work through' a specific subject.


What do you want people to feel when they view your work?

I aim to inspire feelings of excitement and amazement at the hidden complexities and information within a literary work once it's been unlocked and made visual. I want these graphics to add additional insight to a traditional reading of a text, as well as make the reader love and appreciate the book more.

Were you a fan of the books you included in your project? Who else inspires you?

I like most of the books included in this project. Either they or the authors have some relevance in my personal literary history.

What was the most interesting book you represented visually?

On the Road, since that's the main focus of the project. I've still not applied this approach to a wide range of literary works day!

As well as the project, Writing without Words, there are literary influences in other pieces of your work too. Where does this fascination with the written word stem from?

I think if I didn't become a graphic designer I would have studied English literature at uni. I am fascinated with English grammar and literature and I think this comes from the intensive grammar and literature classes one has to take at a Catholic high school and middle school in the USA.

Do you think more people should see the potential of being able to transform the written word into a visual form?

Yes, because it's just another way of experiencing a text and seeing the hidden complexity of a written work. With apps and e-books and theshift from the printed word to the digital word, I hope that visualapproaches become a standard way of better comprehending a literarywork.

How would describe the work you do? For example, is it art or graphic design?

I am a graphic designer first and foremost. I like solving design problems and working to a brief, even if it is my own!

What other projects are you working on now?

I'm collaborating with people on word-based projects and trying to save up some money as a freelance book cover designer / information designer /data visualiser / all-around graphic designer take time off to start new personal projects!

More of Stefanie's work can be found here

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