Using Text as Rhetoric

Visual rhetoric is a newer concept of rhetorical literacy that has become explored more often over the last couple decades.  Visual literacy is important to understand because it aids in understanding communication through typography, logo design, layout, and the meanings they are producing. Purdue OWL has a wonderful chart explaining the possible outcomes of learning through visual literacy:

“The importance of visual rhetoric in modern culture cannot be understated given the sheer amount of information that most people encounter over the course of a day. People tend not to invest time into reading or examining something unless they are presented with a good reason to do so. A page of plain text tends not to grab anyone’s attention. Techniques in visual rhetoric, then, are used to draw attention to particular pieces of information. In some cases, images and designs based on visual rhetoric techniques are used to convey information without words, thereby allowing people to receive a message passively or with minimal time or energy” ( is visual rhetoric?).

For example, a type of visual rhetoric used on fonts,logos, and design during the graffiti and post-graffiti movement is called deconstruction. “A work of design can be called “deconstruction” when it exposes and transforms the established rules of writing, interrupting the sacred “inside” of content with the profane “outside” of form. Weingart is the perfect example of this, using not only letterforms themselves but also nonobjective elements within his composition to distort the typographic content. Yet, the link between language and typography is so close that typography is, essentially, the frontier between languages and objects; languages and images. Typography turns language into a visible, tangible artifact, and in the process transforms it irrevocably” (Lupton).

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