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Monday Mood: Stop Saying Juxtaposition

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

I heard the word “Juxtaposition,” about a billion times in art school and I’m sure a lot of you did as well. I think it starts early on, professors start launching this word at us along with early design products. Then next thing we know, we’re seniors hearing it 5-10 per critique. You hear it so many times, but I think people either don’t know or totally forgot what the word actually means so I’m going to start by defining it.

Juxtapose (verb): place or deal with close together for contrasting effect.

So, simple enough right? This is a word used to describe when things are put together to create a contrasting effect. But if you think about it, why does this word take over art school with such force? A pretty simple answer, I think, people just want to sound cool and artsy. The word juxtapose/juxtaposition is like, “I know art and am better than you,” 101. People don’t just want to say, “This creates an interesting contrast,” or, “These two elements work well together,” they’ve got to squeak this word in there so you don’t forget how awesome they are. This is so lame and it waters down what juxtaposition actually is so much. It’s supposed to be a word used for stark contrast, different contrast, but when you use it every time black is next to white it doesn’t mean a thing when people create new and meaningful contrast. Let’s just collectively agree that we don’t have to be so cool and use a synonym or two so bit, meaningful words can be… well, meaningful.

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