A figure is more than a representation. It is an emergent accretion of images, ideas and association that is at once material body, media image and cultural signifier. Figures tell stories and map our world. They recur in different guises: figuring is the iterative process through which particular figures are given substance and become visible, accruing meaning and political-affective force. How might we approach the work that figures do, and think about how they circulate and participate in the production of the social? This essay offers ways of thinking about figures as articulations of power and counter power, as sites of possibility and hope, grip and captivation.