Graphics are a language. Some ideas can only be conveyed through images, and not at all through words- or clumsily, at best.
(As a side note, if you have never read Rice Boy, the story is a beautiful example of what I’m describing. Go. Read. Now.)
A single image can use many visual devices that give it more significance than its surface-level appearance. To give some simple examples: flat images can give the illusion of depth. Overlapping shapes- or rather, a graphic with a break in continuity, which alludes to one shape overlapping another- appear to be layers in space, where changing color intensity implies nearness or farness.
Still images can hint at movement. The repetition of similar shapes implies a connection, and as our eyes are drawn across them, we can infer the connection is time. We even project aspects of reality into images, such as the implication of gravity when looking from up to down.
After already labeling words a clumsy means of explaining the language of graphics, it would seem silly to type much more right now. Instead, I will share a small graphic I designed as a phone decal for a friend:
So, what is this image? I have no idea. I only know the image I saw in my mind as I began, and the graphic evolution that took place as I drew. Yet this simple, still, 2-D image seems to have depth, to imply motion, to imply some kind of evolution over time, even if only in a whimsical sort of way.
If a simple phone decal can do that – using only a basic graphic vocabulary – what could someone speaking fluently in graphics say?