Today I'd like to visit the subject of mythology, as well as its relation to design.
The root of myth (mythos) loosely translates to story or word. We could say that the heart of mythology lies in storytelling. The beauty of stories and words is that oftentimes they are rarely lost; they are adopted, modified, or reinterpreted as new societies and cultures emerge. Stories or myths provide meaning to a chaotic world, and give reasoning for good and bad choices alike. Globally, there are common themes that we all can relate to.
As children, we sometimes remember the myth but fail to understand the full meaning of the story until we are older. It can be easy to get lost in the details, especially if there are gods and goddesses involved with a myriad of interesting abilities. Perhaps these stories are veiled in strong symbolism in order to be fully digested later.
The wonderful thing about myths is that while they are often telling you something important, they are also interesting for their entertainment value. It's like if Public Service Announcements merged with soap operas. The closest example I could think of is an after school special, although perhaps less cheesy.
So, how does this relate to design?
As designers (or copywriters, filmmakers, etc.) we are given the task to create visuals or words that appeal and relate to an audience. We must tailor the message so that it is not too general or obscure. We are tasked with finding a delicate balance between letting the message be heard and understood without making it so blatantly obvious that it loses it's appeal altogether. As David Oglivy has said,
"A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself."
And while some ads or brand identities get discarded, others have long-lasting impressions that are recognized worldwide. While there are many reasons for an ad or brand's success or failure, a large portion has to do with creating a message that relates well and affects people emotionally. Incidentally, a good story does exactly the same thing.
If you are interested in learning more about mythology, I highly recommend checking out Project Gutenberg for a large selection of free e-books containing mythology. Rick Riordan's popular children's series, Percy Jackson & The Olympians (the first book titled The Lightning Thief) is one that I have enjoyed as it references many stories from Greek mythology.
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