I ♥ pictograms!
I’m fascinated and impressed by the way a three dimensional object or a piece of information can be reduced down to a simple, flat, monochrome graphic and yet can still be universally understood. It must take a special kind of skill to design one effectively, but presumably the creators go through life without ever receiving any credit.
There’s no room for fuss or detail; it’s art at its most basic, no-nonsense level. I love the use of blocks and shapes, symmetry and white space. It's not a way of drawing I'd find easy, with rarely any outlines and no opportunity for subtle shading.
Some pictograms are just perfect in their simplicity, although I struggled with a few on this leaflet I picked up the other day.
Among my favourites for being aesthetically pleasing as well as symbolic are the brush (for 'solvent-based paints, wood varnishes and enamels') and the bin (for ‘waste, dirt, filth or refuse’). That rat is pretty cool too. You'll be pleased to know I had no intention of sending one through the international mail anyway.
I remember a homework project from my Geography class when I was eleven. It wasn’t quite the same as coming up with a pictogram but the principle was similar - we had to make simple diagrams to represent objects from an aerial perspective. I didn’t realise how very unoriginal I was being at the time but, yes, I drew this
Miss T didn’t like it and said she had no idea what it was. She was a harsh teacher in that first year and we were all rather scared of her. Mind you, when she came back in the second year as Mrs A she had changed completely and was nice as pie…
There can be no doubt that this is a Mexican frying an egg
But maybe the best ever use of a completely stripped down, perfect, graphic pictogram is this Frank Zappa album cover. Pure brilliance.