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Everything But

“I swear, she packed everything for the trip but the kitchen sink.”

With regards to the blog I created, “Everything but the kitchen sink” meant more than just a catchy phrase to me; it provided me with the creative flexibility to put up whatever I wanted on my blog, without worrying about any restrictions. I think, to get a little philosophical for a moment, that in life if we want to really feel like we have lived it to the fullest, I would hope that the experiences were limitless, without boundaries, and included everything but the kitchen sink, figuratively speaking. I wanted my image to embody this in some way, without becoming too complicated. The beauty of a fairly simplistic set of images is that the viewer gets to fill in any parts that may not be specifically spelled out. It’s always a challenge to make sure you’re not being too ambiguous or too direct, and as the creator I’m not sure whether I am straddling the line, or flailing about unknowingly in one category or the other.

The only linguistic message I provided was slightly coded. In the speech bubble the word “everything” repeats several times in several different fonts. I considered using different languages to distinguish the repeated word, but worried that may steer viewers away from the general, more simplistic message as they focused mainly on trying to figure out what the other words translated into. Additionally, the word “But” appears inching its way up the neck of the faucet. These two words allowed me to have a little directionality in the piece, as well. The eye travels first to the speech bubble with “everything” then to the “but” below, then hopefully the viewer notices the kitchen sink the speaker is standing on so that they read the image almost as linearly as they may read a sentence.

The literal, denoted message is a little complicated, since one image clearly states “there was a sink, it was in a yard.” But then we will not look at the cartoon stick figure and think “there was a man standing on the sink” because we know that to not be true. The man was drawn by someone, and the stark differences between the cartoon figure and the photo image make a clear comparison. So, presumably that sets it apart from the real, tangible world that we see in photos. Similarly, viewers wouldn’t see his speech bubble and assume “the stick figure was making sounds.”

The symbolic message can range, depending on the viewer. At first glance, this image, if conveyed properly and clearly for the viewers, would suggest that this is meant to represent the saying “everything but the kitchen sink.” But things can be stretched further if the viewer wishes them to. It’s the basic complexity of interpretation. For example, one may think beyond the scope of the image and apply the message to the outside world. I personally believe we live in a society burdened with “isms.” We all carry our own stereotypes formed from several outside sources (such as media, friends, family, etc). It is undeniable, but with each generation, we seem to see less and less vocalization concerning them, whether it be good or bad. Perhaps the sink could be representative of the things not being said. His speech bubble is bursting with all sorts of (every)things, BUT the kitchen sink. What don’t we discuss with one another? What don’t we share out loud? What is this little stick figure not saying? It stretches the original saying to almost encompass another notion that the kitchen sink, an incredibly prominent figure in the overall image, is somehow not being addressed. It is as if the image can additionally take on the “elephant in the room” message if it is shifted towards this idea. And that was just one interpretation. Perhaps another could see it as something entirely different. There is nothing objective about symbolically decoding the message in an image, no matter how simplistic the image may be. It just depends on the decoder, and what they want to see in it.


Kitchen sink image By Flickr user DieselDemon Creative Commons licensed

Brief Description: 

This image closely ties into the meaning behind the title of my blog.


I like this image, it's humorous and effective, and it doesn't hurt that it reminds of explosm comics!

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