Iconographic Storytelling

In todays workshop with Tracy we were introduced a new project titled “Iconographic Storytelling”. Iconography studies the identification, description and the interpretation of content and images, and this is what we wanted to focus on today to create a mini story.

In Our briefing, we looked at different iconography examples- not just design related, but a variety of visuals which suggest ideas through interpretation.

“The Ambassadors”

Firstly we look at Holbein’s “The Ambassadors” painting which has been controversial over the years as to the artists intentions. The painting portrays themes of Art and Science- the relationship between the two. But also, within the image shows a skull stretched out on the floor. Instantly you tend to think of death, another possible theme? This could be used in relation to art and science.  However it was later interpreted that the artist Holbein merely used the skull as a signature to his work.  This is because his surname is Hohl + Bein which can be a pun for Hollow Bone.


Visual Culture

We next explored how Iconography can be used as visual culture. Iconographers believe that images should not just be looked at; they should be read instead, particularly for their intellectual content and implicit philosophy (values, beliefs, way of life).  To do this we looked at a painting by Mitch Griffiths– a modern day artist who combines fine art within the context of the 21st century exploring contemporary concerns and social concepts. Griffiths deals with concepts such as fame, nationalism and consumerism which each painting a complex symbolism that reflects not only the modern day issue, but how traditional iconography hasn’t lost a place in visual culture.

Women Iconography

Briefly  we looked upon Iconography of women in the 21st century and how different things have become. For example, Breast feeding- a natural mothering gesture which was once looked at freely; in the modern age women have to cover themselves up as it can be seen as inappropriate yet at the same time this modern age more freely than ever about showing women’s breasts due to magazines.

Women Iconography

The magazine cover above jumped 30% in sales with this provocative image of Kim Kardashian, authenticating Kardashian as an even hotter commodity. This image originates from Barbara Kruger and her style of work- the Black, Red and White type identity which addresses cultural constructions of power, identity, and sexuality.

Iconography In film

How a simple image can cause association?  For example, how Batman uses his bat signal silhouette in the sky and people know that he is on his way. Or how if people hear the words “I’ll be back” there is always an association with the Terminator.

Below shows an image of 50 children’s stamps.


These stamps were found in an old abandoned post office in which they have been used within a unique animation which tells a story- in a disturbing way. To view the animation, please use the URL below.


Using these icons, our first task was to cut out a selection of chosen images and use them to create our own mini story. The story didn’t have to be anything complex, but show how icons can be used to tell a story. We could add text and other images if we felt necessary to do so in order to complete the short storyline.

Below shows my story creation using the stamp icons

Icon Story

The Intention of the Workshop

The intention for this workshop is that over the 2 weeks we will have created our own icons in which represent aspects of contemporary society, using them to tell a story of our own, but in some way must reflect and convey a modern narrative.  This could be humorous, political, playful or satirical.

For next week, I intend to do a little of my own research, as well as providing lists of contemporary buzzwords associating modern themes and representations of society.