Symbols are important to all of us. We use hundreds of them, and recognise thousands more. They’re everywhere, from company logos to road signs and map icons.
They represent language by symbolising sounds. They transcend language by simplifying complex ideas into universally understandable symbols. They have the power to evoke emotion within us, they persuade us to part with our money or rally to a cause, and we display them to advertise our affiliations and promote our interests.
Symbols connect so strongly with the psyche that there is no need for the use of written words to convey the name of an organisation or product. All a can of Coca Cola needs to identify it as such is a wonky white stripe on a red background. Similarly a pair of wings in an oval signifies a Mazda car, just as a hammer and sickle makes us think of communism.
From pictograms and hieroglyphs to kanji and alphanumerics, we’ve always had a strong connection to symbols, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to share mine with you.
It’s my artist signature and is an arty version of my initials. Maybe one day it’ll be a recognisable brand.
It’s similar to the Greek letter ‘phi’, only with an added flourish. Phi represents the Golden Section, which is something I’ll explore in another post, but for now let’s move seamlessly onto the subject of patterns.
For me the most interesting pattern forms are those of the Mandlebrot Set and the Julia Set, but like phi I think that’s something I’ll save for a post of its own.
Patterns are nature’s symbols, just as our symbols in repetition become patterns, and you’ll find them everywhere, from leaf and petal formations to butterfly wings, architecture, music, human interaction, animal behaviour, soap bubbles in the sink and thunderclaps in the sky.
The pattern on this box comes from a design by M.C. Escher, a Dutch graphic artist from the last century. He was obsessed by patterns and created hundreds of works of art incorporating ever more complex tessellations. If you don’t already know his work check it out, it’s beautiful, fascinating and mesmerising. In the end, isn’t that the point of patterns, to fascinate and mesmerise us with the beauty of perfectly repeated form?