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Mystery Water Stink Sparks Alarm!

May 20, 2010

In hazard warning yellow and black, here’s is my stab at recreating a Hackney Gazette headline without the original words. I haven’t shown it to many people yet, so the jury is still out on the effectiveness of the symbols. In addition to the Isotype system, I’ve been looking at pictograms from Michael Evamy’s World Without Words, and Otl Aicher’s classic series for the 72 Olympic games. This is the first time I’ve tried making pictograms or info-symbols. It’s not easy! As a designer, you have to rely upon convention and the prior knowledge of the reader. Many of the symbols below don’t inherently resemble human forms (for example, the figure skater, centre) but given the appropriate context, and thanks to a common recognition of the basic stick figure, we can understand the symbols and interpret the actions represented by them. So there’s another thing I’ve learnt – pictograms are easier to design when you can use stick figures.

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