Let the pun begin

A.M. Cassandre, Ambrose Bierce, Bradbury Thompson, Eli Kince, lowest form of humour, play on words, verbal pun, Visual Puns in Design, Vladimir Nabokov, William Shakespeare,

Samuel Johnson described the pun as “the lowest form of humour.” Ambrose Bierce thought it a “form of wit to which wise men stoop and fools aspire.” For a form so loathed by some, it has certainly endured – even flourished – in both art and literature.

A verbal pun is defined as a play on words, exploiting its different meanings or sounds. A visual pun uses symbols or a combination of words and symbols to do the same. Mark Twain and P.G. Wodehouse – not fans, however John Donne, Vladimir Nabokov and William Shakespeare didn’t seem to have a problem with the pun. Shakespeare used over a thousand puns in his plays. Communicators Bradbury Thompson, Paul Rand and A.M. Cassandra used visual puns liberally in their work and many pieces went on to become iconic images in advertising and design history. Eli Kince’s 1982 book, Visual Puns in Design: The Pun Used as a Communications Tool is a great showcase for those works.

Puns continue to proliferate especially on Internet sites. Pun of the Day and vi.sualize.us are two sites that overflow with puns. And recently, a New York Times op-ed piece considered the irresistible nature of puns over the ages.

You can pun, but you can’t hide from them – it’s something to punder. 😉

On these spreads, Kince’s book features work by Ian James Wright, Bradbury Thompson and A. M. Cassandre.

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