“When I searched for a global warming icon, nothing appeared,” said Luis
Prado, a graphic designer who illustrates publications and creates interpretive signs at his job at the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. “So I made one.”
Two months ago, Mr. Prado learned about The Noun Project, created in 2010 as an online storehouse for “the world’s visual language.” Impressed with the open-source and visual nature of the project, he began designing and uploading icons he had created for his agency — a logging truck, a pruning saw, a blackberry. The breadth of subjects quickly expanded: jealousy, impostor, shipwreck,
astronaut. “It’s become something of an obsession,” he said, noting that he had completed four new icons that very morning.
The project does not directly compensate designers for their work, but Mr. Prado now has 83 icons to his name. Recent news articles about climate change inspired the global warming symbol. Edward Boatman, co-founder of
The Noun Project, said he had not seen an image “truly representing the phenomenon” until now. “Luis has created an icon that is incredibly startling,” he said.
To begin, Mr. Prado plugged “global warming” into Google’s image search engine. The results including depictions of an Earth on fire, melting glaciers and smokestacks, but nothing that matched his own vision. So he took a picture of the globe and “melted it” so that continents and oceans extruded glutinous drips. “Less is more,” Mr. Prado said. The icon has been downloaded over 100 times in the last week.
Although unsure how the icon might be used – Mr. Boatman hopes it will “become a rallying point for environmental protection and other green initiatives” – Mr. Prado said that he is interested in projects that serve the common good, in many cases those related to safety, natural resources or the environment.
Still, those are permeable boundaries. “It occurred to me one day that there was no icon for centaur, so I made one.” Mr. Prado recently completed his first graphic novel, “julioh,” about a young Argentine immigrant who chases success in Manhattan advertising, a plot in some ways mirroring his own life. He hopes to find a publisher.
In the meantime, he continues to sketch icons. “When I started, I had hoped to upload one per day, giving me 365 after a year,” he said. “But then reality struck.”
Would any readers out there like to submit their own global warming icons?
Send your creations to firstname.lastname@example.org, using the subject line “global