What Iconography means to me

It was a late Friday night when I pulled into the local grocery store when I notice the parking lot was unusually empty. There were a lot of open spots so I did what my lazy self would do — drove into the closest lot in front of the store entrance. I did not park into the first three available spots though, as they were marked with a picture of a person sitting on a wheelchair with blue squared outlines. My mind just suddenly know that I am not entitle to park there. It then occurred to me that we often overlook signs and symbols — perhaps we have gotten so used to them that it became an autonomic response or their meaning is just universally understood. Everyone knows that you can not park in a handicap spot without having visible authorization. But what makes us understand these iconic signs and symbols? I got out of my car and walked into the store. As I walked I also pulled out my phone and planned to read my Facebook feeds. Having to watch for traffic I accidentally fumble into the navigation thing on my phone and it pulled up a camera symbol. I then shoved my phone back into my pocket because the grocery store associate was pushing the shopping carts behind me and I felt like I was in his way.

I finished my shopping early that night and walked back out into the parking lot. I hurried to white painted crosswalk right by the yellow sign with the walking man. In fact, the yellow sign caught my attention before anything else. Along the way home I stopped by Walmart to print some photos out. Walking through the departments was a breeze since they had their icon displayed on huge banners around each section. I saw the camera icon again and knew that it was their photographer department. By the time I had finished creating my picture selection I needed to use the restroom. Finding the restroom banner was hard since it was hidden away around the back of the store. However, the gender sign on the restroom doors is easily readable. I knew that the picture of a man separated by a person sitting on a wheelchair meant the restroom is for men and men with disability. I admit that I rarely pay attention to icons since their meaning is embedded into my head. I only look for icon when I need to find something and even then I just know what is meant for what. The people who designed the icon and made them easily understandable succeeded. They were able to relay powerful yet simplified meaning into signs and incorporated it into our lives. This is what I think iconography means and why is it important.

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