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Designing and understanding pictorial language. Pictograms: their readability and the relation between them and illustrations

During this practice centred master thesis, I tried to find some possible answers to the following four research questions: “Which variables (design characteristics, techniques, strategies, etc.) can render a pictogram incomprehensible or (more) comprehensible?”, “Can a pictogram still be informative in an efficient manner even if it is designed in an illustrative visual style or used in an illustrative way?”, “Is a pictogram purely factual or can it be also emotional or humorous like an illustration?”, and “How can emotional and / or humorous pictograms designed in an illustrative visual style be used in a visual identity and / or wayfinding system, and how can they enhance the communication?”.

The final practical project of my master thesis is a set of emotional animal pictograms that are all formed and sculptured by hands with white clay and photographed. The design style of these final pictograms is a mix of pictographic style and illustrative style, thus showing that illustrative pictograms can be both emotional and functional.
Basel, 2021