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Thinking in Pictures

Thinking in Pictures

by julia • May 9










Thinking in Pictures is the theme of the movie Temple Grandin and the title of her best-selling book.  The movie (starring our Wooster St. neighbor Claire Danes) tells the story of the real-life Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who has dramatically improved the lives of millions of children and many millions of animals.

Temple sees the world differently because she literally thinks in pictures.  When someone says the word "steeple," for example, her brain works like Google images to generate a series of very specific steeple images in her mind.

That steeple example may sound abstract, but her visual mode of thinking has helped her to solve tangible problems when more word-based thinkers have failed.  Temple understood that cows naturally move in circular patterns where they lean against each other, so facilities that make them walk in straight lines with slatted walls are upsetting.  By designing a new kind of slaughterhouse with solid curved walls, Temple created a much calmer and more humane facility.

Marketing people rarely think in pictures.  They go to business school and are taught to express ideas using words and charts instead. They believe that if they come up with the right words, designers will divine their intent and translate it into brilliant art direction that regular people will understand and buy.  Designers are the designated interpreters of business speak.  But no one taught them business speak in design school, so a great big gap emerges.  The gaping business-design chasm of non-communication.

At Beardwood&Co., we've come to realize that a written brief is inherently vague.  When we partner with clients to translate their ideas into a visual brief instead, not only does everyone have more fun during working hours, but the end result is way more inspirational and helpful to both the client and our design team.  It helps the design work get done faster because better thinking happens earlier.  There's in-depth discussion and greater clarity that provide focus for all creative work.

We've come to think of ourselves as "business speak" interpreters, but more importantly, just like Temple Grandin, we are "Thinking in Pictures" evangelists. If you're a wordy type, you should partner with your creative team to express your thoughts in pictures.  We can visualize that you'll be delighted by the results!