Pictograms have been part of the Olympics lexicon since Otl Eicher’s successful graphics solidified the trend at the 1972 Munich games. Here’s the latest set of Olympic pictograms from Vancouver 2010. Best served cold.


Video of my talk, “a history of the stick figure” at Ignite Portland 2, February 5, 2008 at the Bagdad theatre.

Here are a few resources from the talk:

ISOTYPE charts by Otto Neurath
Stick figures as numbers. Three ISOTYPE charts shown as examples.

AIGA Symbol Signs
The complete set of 50 passenger/pedestrian symbols developed by AIGA, available in EPS and GIF formats. Download your own bathroom guy!

Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
Every road sign imaginable is here. The manual defines the standards used by road managers to install and maintain traffic control devices on all streets and highways. Available for download as PDF.

Stick Figures in Peril
Flickr group of warning signs showing stick figures in dangerous, often life-threatening, situations. A must see.

A Year in Iraq
New York Times article and chart in ISOTYPE style by Alicia Cheng.

Many thanks to linuxaid for shooting and posting all of the presentations.

Thanks Portland!

February 6, 2008

Ignite2 Portland - a history of the stick figure

I had a great time presenting “a history of the stick figure” at Igntite Portland 2! Thanks to everyone for the great feedback. I’ll post reference material from the talk over the next couple of days, so check back for updates or feel free to email me.

Ignite2 Portland

I’ll be presenting “a history of the stick figure” at Ignite Portland 2, Tuesday February 5th at the Bagdad Theatre. Doors open at 5:15.

You see him everywhere – hanging around bathrooms, loitering at construction sites, and perpetually crossing the street. The ubiquitous stick figure. That little, iconic, round-headed fellow on signs that makes us think twice before taking the wrong door, or helps us so we don’t really need to think at all. But where did he come from?

We’ll take a look at the origins of the stick figure from post-WWI Vienna to his current status as a cultural icon. It’s a fascinating tale of war, industry, society, and the development of a visual symbol that has evolved to represent all of us.

The Road to Clarity

October 24, 2007

typeface legibility

As young readers we learn to make sense of words by memorizing shapes and vocalizing each individual letter in order, one at a time, until the entire word is formed. As we learn, we become able to recognize entire words at a glance, based on familiarity and context, without the need to work out individual character shapes.

Clearview, the typeface slated to replace Highway Gothic as the standard font for US road signage, takes advantage a driver’s perceptual ability to recognize word shapes, thereby allowing them to read quickly at high speeds and at greater distances than is possible with today’s signs.

Here’s a great NY Times Magazine article (registration required) about the design and testing of Clearview. Additional info and a commercial version of the font is available for purchase at clearviewhwy.com.