It’s not very often that text, copy, or any sort of word makes a statement in my photography. Alphanumerics tend to be incidentals.
Behind the work is a different story, though. My favorite brainstorming is mind-mapping: connecting words and phrases in a correlative spiderweb of an idea. Most recently, my idea is translucency. While looking at my photographs in that body of work, the word comes to mind in a subtle way. This use of words is different that the advertising described by George Lois.
The idea that really stands out to me in reflecting on Lois’ first commandment in relation to my own work is the interplay between words and images as a form of communication. Even if my photographs do not include words, when we view them we think in words. There is a translation that occurs when viewing art. Because to say, write, or otherwise express our reaction and feelings about one of my photographs we use words. Furthermore, anytime I submit a body of work I am asked to include an artist statement: words that describe the visual image. At first, I dread writing down the words that would appear to seal the fate of the associated photographs. As I work through my writing process, I try very hard to maintain a sense of open-endedness. My interpretation in the artist statement is never designed to me the final comment.
So yes, the word does indeed come first.