Essentials of Visual Communication
Copyright © 2009 Isabel Pedersen
Essentials of Visual Communication provides an excellent introduction to the field. The table of contents is arranged under conceptual headings like “strategy,” “messages,” “text,” “colour” etc. making this book accessible to non-linear reading.
Bergström simplifies complex concepts in order to fulfill his mandate of providing the “essentials” of visual communication. For example, he pares down difficult ideas from Roland Barthes (e.g., anchorage and relay) and Charles Peirce (icon, index, symbol) and uses more approachable language when describing the terms.
The book’s stunning visual examples, drawn from advertising, art, photojournalism, and cultural artifacts, are generally spot on. Bergström chooses vibrant, politically-challenging images to prove his points. He also draws on commercial examples to reflect the popular culture angle the book takes; however, he always picks images that are multidimensional. Most offer ironic predicaments or exceptional aesthetic value. Overall, Essentials of Visual Communication is an excellent primer.