Research #1 – Semiotics

Researching semiotics has been quite interesting, as there is quite a vast range of information covering the topic – from academic and non-academic sources. By conducting research into semiotics I have come across two sites that explained the concept quite comprehensively. The first site is ‘’ with a post titled ‘Semiotics for Beginners‘ and ‘’ with ‘Explaining Semiotics – Info-graphic‘.

Some notes taken from ‘Semiotics for Beginners’:

  • For the designer, the creative mark maker, it’s therefore about the complex relationship between images and their meanings.
  • Graphic artists take various visual fields and fill them with constantly changing symbols and signs to convey meaning. As Andrew Foster, an illustrator and lecturer at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, points out: “Illustrators are visual thinkers, not stylists.”
  • Context is of paramount importance. Essentially, an image relies on context to bring out subtle meanings, and an understanding of the viewer’s context will enable the image’s creator to better code meaning into his work.
  • Signifier and signified – together, they constitute a sign, the basic object studied by the science of semiotics. The image is the signifier, the concept or object the signified.

Some notes taken from ‘Explaining Semiotics – Info-graphic’:

  • ‘Denotation/Connotation’ – Denotation is the physical object that we actually see that makes up a form of communication. Connotation is the key to how we understand things. being built on our experiences, ideologies and expectations, often meaning people react differently to the same thing.
  • ‘Icon/Symbol/Index’ – An icon is the physical resemblance to the signified. A symbol is the opposite of an icon, so it does not resemble the signifier that is being represented. An index describes the physical connection between the signifier and the signified.

Discussion: I have realised, through this research, that I may not need/use a significant amount of semiotics within my image. My original objective was to use more abstract and obscure religious allusions within my image, but the problem is that they would have to make sense to the viewer. As mentioned above in the notes, context is very important when employing semiotics within your design and for the viewer to understand your intended message. However, I would still like to use the ‘Creation of Adam’ painting within my image to communicate a message.


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