Metaphor Essay

What is a Metaphor? How does it change our concept of reality? and how does it function in Art and Design?

So to answer the first question, A metaphor is an action and linking it with an instrument e.g.The mind is a computer. Metaphor can sometimes be confused with what a simile is but theres a difference, A simile a figure of speech that uses “like” or “as” to compare two things e.g. The way she looks through me like I am a Ghost, While a Metaphor is a direct comparison that is not literately applicable in order to suggest a resemblance. A metaphor is almost an over exaggeration e.g. The stock markets are falling. a metaphor adds a dramatic visual to an idea.

philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor Robert Boyle had is how views on the subject, this is what he said about metaphor “Among the mysteries of human speech, Metaphor has remained one of the most baffling”(Boyle, 1954, P. 257) and also says “odd predilection for asserting something to be what it is plainly known not to be”. Boyle questions the necessary use of a metaphor in speech. while Douglas Berggren Professor Emeritus, Philosophy. M.A., Ph.D says this

“Metaphor has always been one of the central problems of philosophy. Nor is this simple because metaphors are in fact used and abused in everyday area of human discourse.Even more important is the fact that metaphor constitutes the indispensable principle for integrating diverse phenomena and perspectives without sacrificing their diversity”(Berggren, 1963, P. 237)

Metaphor is not only used in speech but in the Critique of Judgement. an example of judgement on an artwork would be Tracy Emin’s, My bed(1998) you would be judging her by her bed. In advertising the use of Metaphors gives an item a characteristic. for example this billboard for milk. its suggest that if you drink milk you will “Power up” like a computer? Advertising uses it as strategy to trick its view that the item their promoting is more than it is, in this case the milk.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 13.39.55

In the movie Helvetica(2007) Metaphors are used in describing typography e.g “Type is saying stuff to us all the time. typefaces express a mood, an atmosphere, they give words certain colouring”. This is about a font, the medium words are transported from mind to paper, something you see everyday that no one notices as being a form of art and so influential and something I am using right now. Michael Bierut is an American graphic designer, design critic and educator, she says “it must of felt so good to take something that was old, dusty and homemade and crappy looking and to replace it with helvetica”. this was during the change from Post-war to Modernism when design as an art form evolved. Post-Modernist Typographer Stefan Sagmeister said

“Some people like girls bottoms, I get these kicks from typography. A real typeface needs rhythm need contrast. its air…theres no choice, you have to breath it in”.

He compares a typeface to air, as that its something we embrace without realising. Helvetica perceives as being more than a visual medium of speech.


I understand that a metaphor gives an action a dramatic perception. In advertising it gives an item a characteristic, something we or an intended audience can relate to. When we judge art, objects always symbolise beyond themselves. makes us look past the aesthetics and deeper into the artists mind. Philosophers suggest metaphors are abused in everyday speech and still struggles to understand its use.



“The Use and Abuse of Metaphor,” Review of Metaphysics (1962)

“The Nature of Metaphor,” The Modern Schoolman (1954)

Carl R. Hausman(1989) “Metaphor of Art,” Interactionism and Reference in the Verbal and Nonverbal Arts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Helvetic (2007) Gary Hustwit. USA

Images/Photographs from the internet

(Unknown photographer) Behance(Online) Available at: (Accessed: 20 February 2015)


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