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Pattern Play with Jeanetta: Symbols Pt. 1

Urban Outfitters 
Welcome to this month’s Pattern Play  where we are exploring symbols and symbology. For centuries, symbols have been used to communicate and create visual identity. The earliest symbols have been found carved or painted on stone, trees, skins and other natural materials. Gradually, these visuals developed into written languages to help early civilizations communicate, record information, and even speak to Gods. Depending on the cultural origin, symbols have, and continue to represent, a variety of things including concepts, sounds, places and words. Generally composed of gestural lines, marks, swirls, shapes and characters, they are often pictorial in nature and sometimes arranged in a pattern or grid.

The earliest symbols can be traced back to the written languages of ancient Chinese, Mayan, Native American and African civilizations. Egypt developed one of the most complex and visually impressive writing systems, called hieroglyphics, in approximately 3200 B.C.. Hieroglyphics are two-dimensional motifs and lines, usually inscribed on stones in large scale monuments. Hieroglyphics were also placed on objects and furniture for supernatural protection, to restore balance and order and were generally religious in nature.
In addition to means of communication, symbols have also been created to help us identify objects, places, people or concepts. We can see this in crests, religion, alchemy, numbers, mythology, and astrology. Early civilizations seeking a connection between Earth and the heavens developed astronomical symbols of the constellations and astrological symbols of the zodiac as they stand today (as seen above in this Sri Lankan illustration of the zodiac). We can also find symbolism in common icons like the heart which represents love and the horseshoe for good luck.

Today, modern symbols like emojis, traffic signs, and logos help us to communicate emotion, give direction, and establish identity. Some symbols have grown to take on a life of their own, becoming badges of honor to their own brand subculture such as the classic Louis Vuitton pattern, the poignant artwork of Keith Haring, the ubiquitous Apple logo, or even on Justina’s new Cosmic Desert Wallpaper.


Tune in next week when I take the general concept of symbols and interpret it into a fun pattern!

(Project by Jeanetta Gonzales for The Jungalow)
For more Jeanetta, visit her website and follow her on Instagram.


Alternative Text Justina Blakeney

Designer, artist, stylist & mama. Founder and CCO at The Jungalow. Crazy for color, pattern and plants!

3 responses to “Pattern Play with Jeanetta: Symbols Pt. 1”

  1. George says:

    Love this! Symbols are so much a part of life, and in so many cultures. Often we completely fail to recognize them in our daily life. Looking forward to reading part 2.

  2. […] It’s Jeanetta and I am back with part 3 of Pattern Play on “Symbols”. In Part 1 we discussed the origins and significance of symbols and in Part 2 we made a pattern based on the […]

  3. […] a three parter! Part 1 is on the origin, Part 2 I teach you how to make a fun pattern based on the concept of symbols and […]

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