Brain Pickings

Gerd Artnz Graphic Designer: The Visual Legacy of 4,000 Symbols

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It’s been a great month for Isotype, the vintage pictogram language that gave rise to much of today’s visual communication and sparked the infographics revolution. Yesterday, we featured the story of Otto Neurath, considered the father of Isotype, and last week we raved about the ace iPhone app testing your memory through pictograms by Gerd Arntz (1900-1988), the politically engaged Modernist German graphic designer who collaborated with Neurath on the invention of Isotype.

Today we turn to Gerd Arntz Graphic Designer — an absolutely fantastic recent book about Arntz’s work, exploring the 4000 symbol signs he designed in his lifetime and their visual legacy.

Best-known for his iconic black-and-white wood and linoleum cuts, Arntz also created an astounding array of Isotype color icons spanning nature, industry, people, architecture, mobility, food and more.

And here’s something we found wildly interesting, a living testament to the iconic designer’s cultural footprint: Does the F in this Arntz logo look familiar?

A major case of Similarities, it seems, and proof that everything does indeed build on what came before.

Beautifully designed and thoughtfully written, Gerd Arntz Graphic Designer is both a treasure trove of Isotypes and a priceless overview of the system, its political and historical context, and its timeless design legacy.

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