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Tthe best icons are those that read faster than words.
by Andy Attiliis

Some that have reached this level of recognizeability have the advantage of a long history. Or, they really are the object that they represent. Such as the drawing of an apple, which indeed is an apple icon. The better it is designed, the faster it can be read as an apple.
         Certain icons are memorable because they are constantly positioned in the public's view. For example, a stop sign is so well known it is recognizable from a very long distance whether we can read it or not. It has become a true icon­even though it doesn't satisfy the dictionary's definition­by virtue of hundreds of exposures to billions of eyes. By contrast, many word/picture combinations that are seemingly as simple will never have the exposure necessary to make them read as fast as a true icon.
         When an illustrator helps a client understand what can be expected from specific pictorial representations, valid adjustments can be made early. In cases where images just won't work without multiple words, the ramifications of that fact should be explained. For instance, when illustrated headlines are used as links in a Web site, they'll be taking space on every page. At times, it should be mentioned that they may seriously distract from the key image or further crowd pages that are already too busy. That's when a responsible illustrator might suggest that clean word links would be a better solution.


Andy Attiliis has served as art director for three advertising agencies. Since becoming an independent professional in 1981, he has been hired by nearly every type of business organization. With focused concentration on improving the continuity of a message’s concept and quality, he has often performed multiple creative functions on a single project. His additional experience as a creative director, designer, illustrator and writer have made him an extremely efficient single source art director/creative provider. The kinds of communications for which he has provided art direction range from ads to newsletters, brandings to Web sites.

Copyright 2001 Andy Attiliis. All rights reserved.
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