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.

The stick figure’s tailor

December 11, 2007

arntz1.jpg

Gerd Arntz, Dec 11, 1900 – 1988, was the lead designer of Otto Neurath’s ISOTYPE Institute (the International System of Typographic Picture Education, 1936-1945). The Institute used “speaking signs” to visually convey complex statistical information, and made it accessible to the general public through museum installations and printed publications.

It would be fair to credit Neurath with the invention of the modern “stick figure” as seen in today’s street crossings, rest rooms and construction signs, as he was the first to develop a method of using the human form as a surrogate representation for statistical information. But if Neurath was indeed the father, Arntz was the stick man’s tailor. Under Arntz’s influence, early naturalistic representations gave way to flat, less individual and more abstract designs, eventually becoming the elements of a visual dictionary.