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10 Words - Letter Photography

To an artist in any genre it’s almost impossible to tell which one of their creations is their favourite. In fact, it’s an extremely subjective exercise to even name a few favourites, because we tend to get attached to each one emotionally, yet that is exactly what i set out to do today. Below is a selection of words that have touched me for one reason or another.

“We become what we think about”

– Earl Nightingale

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Each letter in "Think" reminds me of a special day, a significant place or a precious person. The individual photos, even though it’s been collected from Lausanne, Lake Geneva, Paris, Nepal and my hometown in South Africa, seemed to me to have been created for the sole purpose of writing this one word, and have created arguably the most unified word I have ever written with photos.

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"Love IV" is part of a triptych called “Faith Hope Love IV.” Of course the simple lines of the letters is appealing to the eye, as is the colour scheme, but what really draws me to this word is what the Bible teaches me about love. It teaches about self-sacrificing, unconditional, all-forgiving, love. It encourages me to show love in unexpected and even difficult ways, and it illustrates love that is sometimes expressed in what is best for me, as opposed to what i want. This word sticks with me daily and though i fail miserably and often, i aspire to love others in this way, because it’s clear that that’s the most effective way to break down the walls between people.

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"Grace III" is new in a paint-is-still-wet kind of way. i finished it yesterday. It’s on the list because it’s one of those words where i had almost nothing to edit. The colours of the original photos were almost perfect and only small tweaks were necessary. Yet, it’s taken me more than a month to do those minute adjustments. Isn’t that the way life is? Sometimes we just need to make minor changes to get everything to fall into place, but the smallest of changes is sometimes the most daunting to attempt, and may require more courage than the big changes. What little tweaks are you facing today? Why not address it so that you can move on? Go on, nudge-nudge, when it’s finished, you’ll be glad.

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Oh, what a word! You can read a whole blog post about "Courage II", but here i'll mention one part of it that thrills me most: White. It’s the first word i've done with this amount of white, and the lack of colour seems to urge me on towards courage. It seems to give me wings to soar above my fears and insecurities. Stripped of its own colour, it seems to strip away all but what i need to see in order to read the word. It seems to be an effective way to illustrate the concept of courage.

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Since i began writing with photos, i have written the word “genade” (Afrikaans word for grace) many times. "Genade VII" stands out simply because i love its colours.

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"Vrede" is the Afrikaans word for “peace.” Not only does the blue undertone convey peace, but each letter contains either sky or water, which often seems quiet, calm and peaceful. More than that, we know that the blue water is simply a reflection of the blue sky, which illustrates that peace begets more peace. And i find a challenge to myself in that thought: how can I beget peace today?

“Death is more universal than life. Everyone dies, but not everyone lives.”

- Allan Sachs

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"Life" gave me many headaches. If it was written in pen, half a truckload could be filled with the discarded designs I had to trudge through to arrive at this design. The purple “F” represents the small number of people who choose to live their lives alive. i hope to see more of that in the world, then i could colour the other letters one by one with the full spectrum.

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"Grace IV" was inspired by Courage I, and although it seems at first to be a little bit sombre, the bright white letters are written in stark contrast to the dark background. Grace is, to my understanding, simply giving good things in spite of bad circumstances. It’s loving someone who pushes us away, forgetting the words someone wish they could take back, mending broken friendships. It’s an act. It’s active. It doesn’t wait for someone else to initiate the act. It’s up to me. Just as i have received it a million times, it’s up to me to share it a million times. May we all have the courage to extend grace today, and write new stories with bright white letters on dark backgrounds.

“Security is a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

- Helen Keller

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Who of us are secure in anything, really? We have no control over the age, family or circumstances into which we’re born. We don’t choose our abilities and talents. We can’t control government decisions that affect us. We can’t prevent the drunk driver that races through a red light, or the malfunction that sends an airplane plunging into the ocean. As many decisions as we can make for ourselves, there are even more that we don’t get to make. Just face it. We are vulnerable. It’s the nature of the human condition, and it’s part of the human life on earth.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to far, go together.”

- African proverb

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What a thought! "Team" is a favourite in spite of my introverted nature. The essence of being human lies in our interdependence on one another in order to thrive. Sure, i could lock myself in my house and order all i need over the worldwide web and educate myself by reading all the books that’s delivered on my doorstep and entertain myself with every kind of broadcast available on TV and the internet. But first, i'll need many people to produce everything that gets sent to my house, someone to deliver it, and even more to make the movies and programs I watch. So, even if i do my best to isolate myself from people, i’d have to admit that i need them. But honestly, we know (even the introverts among us know) that nothing beats physical human interaction. Shaking hands, looking into someone eyes as we speak, sharing ideas, seeing their body language and listening to their voice intonations, laughing, crying, hugging; all of these are ordinary elements of our extraordinary existence and without it, we are mere shells. Translate this into a work environment, and it transforms places of work into places of purpose. The word “Team” truly is an extraordinarily ordinary word.

Friends, that’s my ten cents for the day. All of these fine art photo prints are available at our online shop at reduced prices for a limited period to celebrate our first year living in Asia. As we only print 5 copies of each word, you’d better get your favourite word before it’s sold out.

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