October 31, 2021

Design Feast’s Makers Series—114th Interview: Digital Product Designer Michela Graziani Relentlessly Pursues the Iconic

Particularly in the world of computing, icons are common elements. An on/off-screen icon blends aesthetics, symbolism, accessibility—all elegantly confined within a small-to-tiny finite piece of visible real estate. The challenges here are twofold: facilitating the ability to comprehend and enabling efficiency to accomplish this intuitive experience. Here, Product Designer Michela Graziani shares both her passion and process in making pictographic collections which are prolific, comprehensive … iconic!

1. How did you arrive at what you do as an Icon Designer?

As a product designer, I had to handle icons every day in the making of understandable and useful interfaces. Finding an appropriate icon is time-consuming, can be changed tons of times during the course of visual design. For these reasons, I turned to creating tailor-made icons purposely designed to fit a precise action for specific situations—an integral task here was gathering feedback from my teammates to help inform and refine the iconography.

2. Being the founder of Symbolikon and more symbols-based libraries, what were a few first steps/activities you took to start these projects?

The initial input/idea was determining an area of interest—unexplored in the icon-industry. This is the main road to take during the whole icon-product-development process. Once the road is in focus, I do a lot of research in order to define topics and categories. Research is crucial. It sets the stage for directing the entire collection while informing these steps: create a list of categories, understand what is to become the main category, figure out the features of each subcategory, along with determining common traits that each single icon should contain. These actions help contribute meaning and functionality throughout the whole icon-collection’s composition.

3. What icons are truly iconic to you? How do they reach the level of iconic?

An ‘iconic’ icon is a visual element that’s easy to remember. Sticks in your mind the first time you see it. There are many strong icons: shaped in relation to a specific object for describing action, imbued with meaning that’s one-way.

In one of my new Ikonthology compendiums, the “Extreme Horror” category is visibly iconic, because both objects and characters possess unmistakable graphic elements which can be readily perceived as simple and unique in their meanings.

4. Is there an icon-driven/inspired creation that you readily admire—What is it?

Regarding art, the public-facing images by 

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Learn more about Ikonthology.

“With all the various genres and subgenres available, it’s hard to find any one place to gather inspiration. Taking cues from the most popular works of fiction, these icons are designed with a modern aesthetic.” Support the Ikonthology project at Kickstarter.

This interview, within the Design Feast series on Makers, was sparked into possibility-turned-reality by Cole Stevens, a brilliant Copywriter, avid Street Photographer and Creator of timely clothing brand Omegazeta—where you can align yourself with cosmic contemplation and grace your physique with uniquely existential style. Wholehearted thanks to him for introducing me to Michela Graziani and her narrative-spanning iconography.