We spent a lot of time dreaming up the perfect name for our new company. Words are our business and our passion, so it had to be just right. Not silly, not pretentious. Simple, but nuanced. It had to speak volumes – symbolizing our history and mission – all without twisting the tongue.
We kept coming back to the humble pencil; its shavings of eraser and graphite. The implication of inevitable second drafts, third tries, fifth passes. Its promise that nothing is set in stone.
The name of our agency, Graphite, calls to mind not only the editor’s pencil but also the ancient Greek word “graphein,” meaning to write. Literally, though, graphein meant “to cut or score,” as ancient people wrote cuneiform or hieroglyphics by cutting the symbols into stone or wax tablets.
Graphein gave us the root word “graph” in the words calligraphy, graffiti, and monograph, for example.
We also wanted the name of our agency to reflect Italy, since Tuscany has offered us such a warm welcome and has become our adopted home. We turned to Italian literature as inspiration.
In The Georgics, the ancient Italian poet Virgil wrote instructions for “grafting” scions of different plant species onto host fruit trees – agricultural editing that shares the same root as graphite and perfectly symbolizes our experience as immigrants – and editors – in this lovely country.
As if that weren’t enough reason to choose “graphite” as our agency’s name, the mineral graphite is found in metamorphic rock – so its very nature calls to mind a process of change not unlike the editing process. Graphite is chemically identical to diamond, though the physical manifestations are polar opposites; analogous to rough drafts undergoing extremes of pressure to become sharp, clear texts.
Finally, “Graphite” is one of our favorite short stories by the writer Shalamov – a stirring paean to the mineral as a topographer’s writing tool that draws invisible lines over the earth, allowing humans to orient themselves. He writes, “Nothing as artificial as ink will do for recording eternity and immortality.”
Writing lines of text is another way of orienting ourselves in the world. The written word is a monument to mankind’s attempts at navigating this inner journey.
At Graphite we recalibrate our clients’ compasses to the world at large, bringing their stories, ideas, and products into the public eye and imagination.