Thursday, May 15, 2014


Defining Cliche'

Out of Ur posts an infographic designed to be funny saying:
Never before have so many design cliches combined for such upbeat and positive glory.
That got me thinking about cliches. Google defines it as:
a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.
Which is very odd and certainly not the definition I learned in school, which is more in line with Wikipedia:
A cliché or cliche (UK /ˈkliːʃeɪ/ or US /klɪˈʃeɪ/) is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning, or effect, and even, to the point of being trite or irritating, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel.
I think Paul Pastor at Ur is using the Google meaning, that whole bit about "lack of creativity."

I have always thought Christianity was very much about cliche. Things are robbed of meaning because of overuse mostly because we stop listening to them, not because their essential truth has changed. That means one should be able to restate the truth in a non-cliche fashion. In graphic design it is just trite. And that dear friends is one of the problems. There is a reason the icons of Orthodoxy are written, not drawn. The object is not to make good art, although that often happens - the object is to tell a truth.

Too often in our modern expression of our faith we work so hard to be original and attractive that we forget that our real goal is to communicate truth. That means that as much as it is good to master the visual arts, they are limited in how much truth they can communicate - words are not so limited. We must master words first.


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