inclusive isotypes

This is an update to an icon set I created a while back… Inclusivity is a core value in the project I am currently working on. It was clear the set had glaring omissions before being useful in any infographic comms.

At the time I made effort to research the forms isotypes have taken over the years, and across borders, going back to Gerd Arntz for example – who’s early information design efforts in this realm are rightly admired, if flawed. Primarily, it is sticky territory to get into – ‘abstracting’ and simplifying concepts such as race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and physical or cognitive ability certainly is a challenge. But it was clear that we don’t need to try and generate icons for every individual and their unique characteristics of physicality, ethnicity, belief system, and so on. The concept of plurality and diversity, when it comes to representing a population, can be covered quite comfortably by selecting a few varied characteristics from which we can convey the broader message.

There are many types of cultural dress, many specific flavours of secular, theological and spiritual beliefs amongst individuals even within tighter social and cultural groups, and across borders. I think it is fair to draw some lines, and with the addition of context, and colour or tonal tints for example, we are able to tell a story representing a significant cross-section of society. Further to that though, it is important to speak to the commonality and reaching across ‘difference’ toward the things we share, our humanity and a pluralistic community perhaps. 

My main reason to revisit these was to include children and the differently able (disabled as you maybe used to say). Certainly in the latter case, there is often significant lack of visibility and under-representation in terms of stigma, discrimination, or straight up omission. So here they are.

Room for improvement and growth on these too perhaps. This is an iterative project.