Iconography: A language of symbols

I was given an exercise to take a closer look at the iconography around me and to sketch what I see, so today I decided to go to a favorite coffee shop of mine and on the way take pictures of all the icons I see. Below is a documentation of my journey with a quick sketch and analysis of each picture.

Consistent and Universal

Having grown up in the US and now living in Taiwan, there are signs that are consistent and universal no matter where you are like the handicapped parking and the no right-turn sign.

Universal street signs found in Taiwan

Local but Learned

Then there are local signs that pertain to Taiwan only that need to be learned like the universal health care symbol, and other street signs.

Symbol for Taiwan’s National Healthcare Insurance found on a clinic’s sign
Another local but common street sign: on some roads in Taiwan, it’s illegal to make a direct left turn, instead scooter drivers must turn right first, swerve around and then go straight.

Signal to Action

Icons on street signs convey information, but some icons like those found on buttons signal instructions.

Action icons — Open/Close Elevator door

Helping Aids

Other icons may serve as complementary images that amplify descriptions or meaning that make them more memorable to people

Icons next to descriptions of ideal times to take protein powder

Regardless of the kinds of icons that are out there, whether its for information or instruction, their symbols all have a context and serve a purpose intended to communicate with people they come in contact with.

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