5 Star Wars Inspired Tips for Visual Storytelling

December 14, 2017

Visual Communication in Star Wars

This is a guest post written by our own Creative Marketing Director and resident Star Wars fanatic Mike DiTomo

With the US release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in just a few hours, what better time than now to take a look at the impact George Lucas and his little space opera have had on visual storytelling. From designers to scientists to musicians, the influence Star Wars has had on the way we communicate and share our ideas with the world is evident everywhere you go.

For me, that galaxy far, far away I traveled to in my childhood ultimately shaped my creative passions as well as my career path. The aliens, the costumes, the music, THE LIGHTSABERS. All of it created this need inside of me to visualize the world I wanted to see. So now, 40 years later, I am a professional visual communicator and hobbyist prop builder.

So how does Star Wars relate to you and your career if you’re not a “creative?” Well, if you’re in any type of position where you need to share an idea with someone, sell a product or service, or inspire action, you can look to George Lucas and Star Wars for some inspiration.

Here are 5 fun tips that can help you on your path to becoming a visual storytelling Jedi.

“You must unlearn what you have learned.” – Yoda

Truer words have never been spoken. Forget the old ways of presenting and sharing ideas. Don’t fall to the Dark Side and give into boring slides filled with 9 cliché visuals and 45 bullet points. There are so many things competing for your audience’s attention and common techniques tend to have less impact on getting your message across. Explore different approaches and different tools to accomplish what you want to say and show.

George Lucas did exactly this… on the grandest scale. When he realized the techniques and technologies required to tell the story he wanted to tell didn’t exist, he and his teams invented them. Sure, not all of us are able to go to the great lengths Lucas did, but as long as we remember to try new approaches we are on the right path.

“Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve created.” – Darth Vader

In relation to the first tip, be mindful that the means by which you deliver your message should not outweigh the message itself. George Lucas has said that “You’re telling a story using tools, you’re not using tools to tell a story.” And while there is some debate on whether or not he followed this while making the controversial Prequels, the statement remains true. Far too often, people try to present a lot of sizzle and no steak. Make sure the tools you use facilitate your storytelling, not overshadow it.

“…many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” – Old Ben Kenobi

Know your audience. You create a deeper connection with others when they can relate, from their own perspective, to what you are sharing. Any guide on public speaking, presenting, and sharing ideas will first tell you to do your research. Lucas went to great lengths to accomplish this. He spent years researching and studying the oldest and deepest storytelling archetypes that he intuitively knew would engage people on a innate level: The hero’s journey and coming of age; The ongoing struggle between good and evil; Familial conflicts.

While you may not have years to do your research, it’s still a necessary part of the process. Take the time to learn as much as you can about your audience and how they view and interpret the world around them. When you can speak their language, both visually and verbally, your audience will be more invested in what you have to say.   

“Size matters not.”– Yoda

Focus on quality over quantity. Stick the core points you are trying to share and avoid superfluous text and visuals. The moment you go astray and try to over-enhance your message is the moment you will lose your audience’s attention. One good visual and one focused piece of text holds much more value. Being concise also allows your audience to formulate their own conclusions in their minds, which serves to create a better connection between them and the message you are sharing.

“Great kid, don’t get cocky!” – Han Solo and “Pass on what you have learned.” – Yoda

Stay curious, keep learning, and share what you have learned with others. Continue to communicate in new, different ways and inspire others to do the same. The more ideas we collaborate and share with others, the more power we have to define the galaxy NOT SO far, far away.

May the Force Be With You.