Visual puns

I came across this guy Phil Jones  and on flickr. Lots of funny a cool t-shirt designs that I would love to wear that have great visual puns.

Back when I was teaching we did a visual pun project that they thought was hilarious and I did too.  I had a professor that was the queen of puns. She would just make them up on the spot in conversation. A little cheesy, but we loved her for it. So why not do this in a drawing?!  If you're wondering what a pun is... ( I had to get a clear definition for myself...)

Pun: play on words, usually the assignment of different meanings to similarly sounding words or phrases, with humorous intent.

Lately I've been doing a little of this with my own drawing. It's so fun! I'll show you some of my stuff later.

It made me remember that I meant to share my lesson points here on the blog from a long time ago and time got away from me. So here you go!

The assignment: create your own visual pun.

We start off we some art history.  Rene Margritte painted the Treachery of images which is a pipe and below it in french it says (translated): This is not a pipe.

Good question and discussion time. What does his mean? Is it not a pipe? They think for a minute and give some silly answers. Sometimes they come up with the correct one. If it's taking a while I ask: This is a painting, so could you use this pipe? Nope. You cannot smoke the pipe in this painting.  It is an image, a representation of a pipe, but it is not a pipe.  Ding light bulb! Classic visual pun.

This is a great time where we discuss how art is so often a depiction. Junior high artists especially get hung up on whether something is realistic looking or not. If they are drawing a hand and it doesn't look EXACTLY like their hand, they are defeated. They compare their artwork and others to the realistic standard. "Well that's not a good tree because it has rainbow colored leaves." What?! (An actual comment by a 7th grader).  I love to break it to them: art does not have to look like real life! Wow, what a revelation for some of those kids. Anyway!

 Assignment: The pun you choose to depict can be chosen from the list provided (below) or one you come up with on your own.  Think of a word or phrase and then depict it literally.  What would an actual hot-dog look like? A dog sunbathing?  Fast food?---food running at lightning speed!

I provided a list of random words to my junior high kids to get their brains thinking in terms of puns.  To adapt for high school, you could do some examples together and then let them come up with their own.  I haven't tried this with elementary students, they might have a hard time getting the whole "pun" concept. But no harm trying!

Watch Dog
Fan Club 
 Second Hand Store 
 Water Closet 
 Strong Box 
 Photo Bug 
 Loud Tie 
 Horse radish 
 Wisdom Tooth 

 Mail Man 

 Boxing Match

 Book Worm 

 Moth Ball

 Garden Hose 

 Horse Fly 
 Eye Ball 

Grandfather clock
Trucker hat
Fire drill
Fruit punch

Then I had them do this worksheet to get the creative juices flowing:

After this they were ready to roll and eager to start on their own. I gave them a 9"x12" standard drawing paper and they began. They were allowed to use pencils, colored pencils, and markers. I was very clear that if they did NOT write the words they were illustrating, it was automatically a loss of 5 points.  Sometimes it's really hard to tell what they were trying to do!  

Anyway they turned out great. At the end of the project I had them each come and show their drawings on our projector and see if the class could guess what it was. I have images of their drawings somewhere on my old computer and I haven't transferred my photos into a better place. So unfortunately, no student examples here. But there are plenty of other great ones from the web I can show you!

Swine Flu haha by David Zinn


Burger King from Devianart
I don't wanna taco 'bout it 

So there is so much out there! Check it out, make your own. What are some your favorite words to play with?