On Twitter recently, I saw a link for The Noun Project and immediately knew I needed to share this link with my readers. I had just interviewed Nigel Holmes where he discussed symbols/icons and keeping graphics simple. He also mentioned social scientist Otto Neurath and artist Gerd Arntz, who had collected every single icon they had made in three-ring binders. Working together, they became pioneers of modern-day visual language. The Noun Project seems to be taking their work and going a step further. This site not only collects symbols but allows you to download and use these symbols for free.
Yes, that's right FREE.
(However, I highly recommend leaving a donation to help maintain and grow this important project.)
Check out the icons below. Notice the simple lines and shapes used to visually communicate these various concepts.
As these icons prove, you don't always need complex visuals to communicate complex ideas. In fact, Edward (the designer behind the project) had been creating simple sketches of ordinary objects when he became "fascinated with their complexity and mechanics." Then, while working for an architecture firm and needing to do presentations, he became frustrated with the lack of free resources for high-quality symbols/icons. He toyed with the idea of "collecting every single noun-symbol" and placing it on a website for the public to download. Years later, Edward (along with support from his wife and an old friend) started The Noun Project with the goal to "share an international visual language." People from around the world are welcome to upload their "noun-symbols" for inclusion on this site (subject to approval).
What an amazing and inspiring concept. I urge you to go to this site and bookmark it now. Whenever you need inspiration for how to communicate a concept; a simple way to show a person, place, thing, or idea; or icons for your next job check out The Noun Project.
And make sure to leave a donation—or buy a t-shirt. You can create some very interesting—and visually communicative—t-shirts from their library of icons.