Saturday, February 07, 2009

Gerd Arntz

This is a great reference for those of us who are forever looking to simplify and communicate instantly.

In the interest of simplification, Gerd Arntz (1900-1988), commissioned by Otto Neurath, developed the Isotype visual dictionary. The idea was that images can bridge differences of language, are easy to grasp and, when done well, also nice to look at.

The International System Of Typographic Picture Education was developed by the Viennese social scientist and philosopher Otto Neurath (1882-1945) as a method for visual statistics.

Gerd Arntz was the designer tasked with making Isotypes, pictograms and visual signs. Eventually, Arntz designed around 4000 such signs, which symbolized keydata from industry, demographics, politics and economy.

The legibility of Isotype is determined by the simplicity of its symbols. These should be instantly recognizable,without any distracting detail. What counts is the general idea – for common use the precise details are of less importance. Or in Neurath’swords: ‘It is better to remember simplified images, than to forget exact figures.’

Above is a 1930’s linoleum-cut and print proof of an Isotype symbol by Gerd Arntz from the Arntz archive, now at the Municipal Museum, The Hague. The original linos show the precision of the craft work in the expressive traces of the gouge. Photo: Max Bruinsma

Gerd Arntz draws the Isotype symbol for 'unemployed'.

Do yourself a favor and bookmark this as an insightful and handy reference tool complete with some really nice detailed history along with the 4000+ isotypes over at the Gerd Arntz Web Archive.

That's Right,