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Autism Symbol

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As an autistic person, I've not cared much for the many attempts at creating a symbol that represents autism or the autistic community.

Obviously no symbol is going to be loved by everyone, however in the autism community there has yet to be a single symbol that's widely supported or recognized. Many people have tried, but none have managed to capture the imaginations of the wider community.

Thus far we've got one idea that is widely accepted as indicating autism, and that's the multi-colored puzzle designs and maybe the puzzle ribbon, but I have my doubts. As I see it the puzzle designs have several problems. I think a design like this one (if not this one) can overcome all of those problems.

:bulletblue: Simple: A multi-colored puzzle design is visually complex and that makes it difficult to create, transfer or share. The internationally recognized peace symbol is internationally recognized because it's simple and portable. It can be easily drawn on a cocktail napkin. That's probably the biggest reason for its being so widely recognized. An autism symbol should be just as easy to sketch on a napkin.

:bulletblue: Supportive: A large number of autistic people are uncomfortable with the metaphor of puzzles to describe them. It feels objectifying and/or degrading. While a puzzle can be enjoyable, it's something you work on, not someone you work with. That's why many autistic people will say "I'm a person, not a puzzle". I feel this idea of showing autism "outside the box" is a more positive message to send in support of diversity.

:bulletblue: Subtle: The multi-colored puzzle ribbon sticks out like a sore thumb. It doesn't really matter where you put it, or what's next to it. It always draws attention away from the environment because it's busy and distracting. That's not what you want from your iconography. You want something that can fit easily and seamlessly into your letterhead or your website without needing to be the center of attention (or looking like it belongs on a clown costume ;P).

So that's my pitch.

It wouldn't normally have the words above and below -- I added those to demonstrate the meaning of the symbol.

If you really feel like it should have multiple colors, to accentuate the idea of neurodiversity, my suggestion is to avoid the puzzle pieces and instead put a rainbow pattern in the box.

Comments and crits welcome. :nod:

EDIT: I added a commercial / share-alike creative commons license. I suppose it might have gone without saying that this is free to use, but I wanted to make it official. :nod:

:new: I added several variations on the theme. Feel free to take any liberties you like with the symbol as well, that's why I added the CC license.

The bottom three rainbow-backed versions use a deliberately non-traditional color set with brown in the middle for two reasons: first to emphasize the theme of "out of the ordinary" and secondly to prevent possible confusion with the GLBT-pride flag.

I also tried to use in-gamut colors for printing and left out indigo in this case to keep the color-set lighter for reasons of contrast (it was removed in the GLBT-pride flag to honor Harvey Milk). The specific colors aren't really so important (because they're only for decoration in this case), as long as they're arranged in a way that will prevent them being mistaken for a GLBT symbol.
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as someone and the autism spectrum I would like to point out from my point view we don't fit neatly in a box and while I agree with your puzzle statement I don't see how you're design does us any better unless the indigo A is supposed to represent those on the autistic spectrum
woohooligan's avatar
Yes, the A represents autistic people - that's what I tried to describe via the text in the graphic and in the artist comments. It's meant to show that while there is some overlap between autistics and neurotypical persons, autistic people tend to see challenges from an alternate perspective. In this specific case, a portion of the box is used to construct the letter A, emphasizing that the box must also be present in order to see the A (autism) as distinct from it.
Fantastic, I've shared this at www.facebook.com/autismamazon Feel free to pop over and see what my readers think x
woohooligan's avatar
Thanks! It looks like its had 5 likes in the first 7 hours, so that seems pretty promising. :la:

I think so far most of the people who've commented to me personally have liked it as well. There've been one or two people who've objected for various reasons, but mostly it's been positive feedback. :nod:
JWthaMajestic's avatar
This is actually great to use for an official symbol of autism. :) This is going in my favorites.
woohooligan's avatar
Thanks, Jordan! :highfive:
Also, the "A" has no bar (I get it--it's implied by the bottom of the box) so, the actual symbol you're showing is not really and "A" but rather a lambda.

The lambda symbol has the meaning of "empty set" in mathematics. This would have very unfortunate connotations as an emblem for autistic people.

Lambda is also a generally recognized symbol used by the LGBT movement (reference Lambda Legal, etc), so this particularly, coupled with the rainbow flag type box, would be very confusing. The rainbow colored things on other autism/Aspergers stuff (puzzle pieces, infinity symbol, etc.) are already confusing because these are so "owned' by the LGBT movement at this point. For example if one were to put one of these symbols on a sticker on their car, there would undoubtedly be at least occasional confusion as to whether the owner was making a comment on gay or autism issues.
woohooligan's avatar
I think you're really over-thinking things... I think people are capable of separating the individual lambda from the symbol here (which in most cases would likely be shown in a single color, in which case you then lose the lambda. And if it were an issue at all it would only be an issue for some small subset of people who are heavy into mathematics AND are bothered by the similarity...

I wasn't aware that lambda was a gay symbol -- I doubt many people are, since I'm no noob to the GLBT community... and without the rainbow, I doubt anyone in the gay community would confuse this for a gay symbol.

Look, I use homonyms and homophones all the time and I never have any problems with the fact that those words have multiple meanings. I even understand the (grammatically correct) sentence "Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo". And we're not talking about trying to take back the swastika for its original eastern spiritual meanings here... People aren't going to be so put off by a passing resemblance to something else that they'll be unable to cope.

The rainbow, I understand -- and I even mentioned before that it might not be a great idea because even though my color selection was different (deliberately so) a lot of people may not notice that those colors are actually very different from the colors in the gay pride rainbow. But as I said, it wasn't a central (or required) element of the design. It was meant to be recognizable with just one color to draw it, just like you can draw a peace sign with a pencil.
Hi, just saw this on "preventionperspectives.com" and posted a couple of comments there (below)...

-----

The ideas expressed are quite valid but I have problems with it (not saying I prefer the imagery of the puzzle pieces, mind you). As the previous commenter touched upon, the multi-colored aspect of the other design conveyed a sense of richness, implying both the diversity of the spectrum, but more that the variety of areas where that autistic people contribute to society. And the bright colors of that design convey their intensity (as contrasted to NTs) and vibrancy as human beings. I find limited colors here and the simple box to be not that great because 1) they play up the “rigidity” (and with it the disability aspects) of autism , the “black and white” thinking stereotypes, etc. Also 2) When you only have two items depicted, and 1 is the “box” itself, this is a BIG part of what’s being conveyed here. “Outside the box” is a defensive and apologetic way of putting it–because it is defining it in terms of “not” being something (“not in the box”). I think in something like this Autism itself needs to be depicted in a positive way, and not a defensive one. I don’t want to see “the box” at all. I want to see some that doesn’t remind people of the negatives to begin with? Make sense? If it’s any consolation I’m offering these critiques as an autistic person and a graphic designer myself. This is a challenge to tackle. And again the critiques of the other design were totally valid. I just think this one has potential pitfalls too. But the effort is much appreciated. I hope this designer keeps working on it–would love to see more proposals. I find this an interesting and very worthy and meaningful endeavor.

-----

[they only had the black and blue line drawing posted to be viewed on that site... I wrote this one after following the link here and checking out the other variations...]

Just one more comment (just viewed the other poster’s link above). I don’t think these designs are really any better at all, because all the color here is in “the box” itself. The metaphor is supposed to be autism being something different than expected and NOT being within this box. So what difference does it make if “the box” is vibrant? The box is the thing that is specifically NOT autism. The box is the limiting thing that is supposed to be depicting what autism IS NOT constrained by. if anything the “A” should be in vibrant color, and the box should be the plain black stick-figure representation. You you’d have to have a very fat, boldfaced “A” to do this. I’m still not sold on the idea as a whole, but I think it would definitely need to be flipped the other way around in order to make sense. What it’s saying now (in the link), as is, is that, “There is a vibrant box that is trying to contain autism, but autism is too stuborn and brittle to fit into that great, fantastic vibrant box where everything interesting is happening” A horrible and entirely counterproductive message. Far better flipping the colors to the “A”.

Also a more minor note–”the box” (particularly with the colored lines) makes one think of a television set. So it kind makes me think of a kid (the “A”) as a spectator propped in front of a TV set and living vicariously through that.
woohooligan's avatar
Thanks for the feedback. :nod:

Basically I disagree with most of what you've said. I can see some of it, and I'll explain that below.

COLOR
Although I see the reasoning behind moving the colors specifically within the A, I think the commentary about the placement of the colors is far too strongly worded. Yes, some folks will interpret it that way, but I'm not convinced everyone or even a majority of people will interpret it that way.

It could just as easily be interpreted that space within the box represents all people, with the space where the A and the box overlap representing the interrelationship between autistics and NTs, just as all people are interrelated, and the vibrant colors there showing that we share the diversity (as conceptually distinct from vibrancy or intensity) of all people. This is the theme I had in mind. I personally don't feel that autistic people should be represented as "vibrant in contrast to NTs" as this seems rather elitist and/or derogatory toward NTs, and allowing the autistic symbol to share the rainbow puts autistics and NTs on the same level, instead of creating such a power differential.

Having said that, the rainbow is not an integral part of the design and the whole thing is in the public domain, you can modify it however you want -- I have no say in the matter. If it really bothers you it's just as easy if not easier to simply put a multi-colored ring surrounding the whole thing. (And to be honest I don't actually like the rainbow - it was only included to show alternative options.)

SHAPE
To say that these shapes "play up rigidity and disability" or that they are "defensive" to me is a non sequitur. It makes as much sense to me as saying that "I have a pet cat" is "dogmatic and defensive". I see them (and I suspect many people see them) as merely "matter of fact" statements like "the sky is blue" or "the earth is round". Granted that you can't even get away with saying "the earth is round" without some cranks choosing to get their knickers in a knot and defending to their dying breath the idea that our moon landing was faked.

Nevertheless, I'll offer some rationale here.

Sometimes a box is just a box, just like sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. A box doesn't have to be pejorative or defensive, it can also be utilitarian. A box may be considered "rigid" and such rigidity can also be prized for its ability to provide structure and strength and a method of organization, storage or transportation.

Its use here is merely to illustrate a common idiom ("outside the box") which allows autism to be painted in a positive light, as opposed to other idioms which might paint autism in other less flattering ways. Personally I feel the puzzle idiom is pretty unflattering if not confusing... so would be for example "apples and oranges" despite the fact that it might be an appropriate metaphor.

But just because autistics are being described as "outside the box" to paint them in a positive light does NOT mean that the box is being or must be painted in a negative light.

It may just as easily be (and as I believe) that the box (NTs) and those outside the box (autistics) are both of significant and equal value. Saying that it's defensive is like saying that the old "black is beautiful" campaign was pejorative by claiming that white people were ugly -- or to use another metaphor, "Mozart's music is beautiful, therefore Metallica sucks". While they might both be true (or false), the truth of one is not dependent on the other.

The statement being made here is simply that both "a standard" and "branches outside the standard" are valuable for different reasons.
Let me address your comments:

"It could just as easily be interpreted that space within the box represents all people, with the space where the A and the box overlap representing the interrelationship between autistics and NTs, just as all people are interrelated, and the vibrant colors there showing that we share the diversity (as conceptually distinct from vibrancy or intensity) of all people"

But then why doesn't the "A' itself have any diversity to it???

This just doesn't make any sense. The "A" represent "autism" (or alternately "Aspergers") There is nothing ambiguous about that. People are not going to say "the other things in the graphic represent autism, and the great big 'A' is just there for show". That is an objectively unnatural interpretation that just is not going to happen.

You still don't explain anything why a "box" is there. Logo design is about elegance and conciseness. What is "the box" for? You're committed to an idea that a "box" is necessary to represent autism or autistic people. My original criticism of this has not been addressed at all. I am NOT happy being represented by a "box" of ANY kind. It is clunky and rigid and I simply will not own that. I would prefer to be represented by something with at least the complexity and organic shape of the puzzle piece that a black square. I think it's terrible to represent Autism this way (if you're intention is to communicate a positive message about it).

"Eletist and/or derogatory toward NT's"?

WOW. You will really have to explain yourself on this one. NT's aren't part of it. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it's a logo that is supposed to specifically stand for AUTISM/AUTISTICS. Where does it even come from that you are including NT's in the logo? It isn't a logo of "a world where NT's and Autistics live together in harmony". It isn't a logo for an NT/Autistic Club (a version of a gay/straight club?) It's a logo for AUTISTICS themselves. Listen: I have NO PROBLEM with autistics and NT's living together in harmony. But that is not your job to depict as a designer making a logo FOR AUTISTIC PEOPLE TO REPRESENT THEMSELVES. I don't get this. It seems like purely after the fact arguing.

This has nothing to do with ANY kind of "conflict" or "power differential" It is a logo depicting SOMETHING very particular (as all logos do)--ONE THING-- that thing would be the Autistic people. It is not a representation of the entire universe showing everything in creation depicted, with an indication of how autistic people should fit into that. It is a ostensibly a logo FOR AUTISTIC PEOPLE to represent themselves, necessarily in contrast to non-autistic people. A logo 's function is to convey a positive impression of the thing it's supposed to represent. Here's an example: Apple's logo doesn't show Apple as one company fitting into the computer industry with another little piece depicting Microsoft, etc. That is not how logos work. Apple's logo is APPLE-centric. That is why it exists. Similarly McDonald's M does not show it coexisting peacefully together with Burger King. The purpose of a logo is, specifically differentiation, and self promotion. That's why people want to have it and that's how it's intended to be used.

A square is simply a very static shape. Geometry makes it this--not my statement. I didn't make this up. Try presenting it elsewhere. Do a logo with a black square an a letter for any company, organization, etc and present it to them: See how unfair or how harsh I'm being in simply communicating this message to you. You will recall that I didn't even come up with the idea of "the box" or being inside or outside of it: This is the language that came along with the representation being presented. I'm simply going on what you presented--and offering my expertise and an objective eye, which you specifically requested. You have to be willing to look at what's out there. Part of design is being clear and committed about the intention. If the imagery is not, in fact, "Autism outside the box" then why is the a black square with an "A" coming out of it, and the language explicitly stating that? You can't have it both ways. You can't have something that works on one particular very subjective, after-the-fact clarification, because your primary intention didn't work out. And you can't present something and then say--well, I didn't really like it/think it was good anyway (as with the rainbow colors). You have to have something that people see and immediately UNDERSTAND the imagery of it. Preferably it needs to be very clever and work on a number of different levels. Kind of like graphic "puns" or what you'd think of as wordplay, in a sense. That is ideal and that is what professional designers strive for but don't always succeed in achieving. A good logo often serves as a mnemonic device, or something that make a strong point about the essence of what's being represented.

Here's an example:
These are the type of things I'd try to strongly emphasize about Autistic people: Creativity, vision, uniqueness, diversity, brilliance, "asset to society", sensitivity (in a positive connotation), belonging, "capable", giftedness, "standing out", and so on.

These are the type of things I would specifically avoid any possible representation of for them (simply because such representations do not serve the interests of improving the public public's perception of them): Rigidity, brittleness, lack of color, one-dimentionality, harshness, being boxed-in, dependence, hostility or temper, sensitivity (in a negative connotation), brokenness, confusion, etc.


Appreciate that presenting a design is not about arguing with people, "Is too!" after the fact. It is about having a solid clear and elegant intention, and executing it in a way that makes it this intention visually obvious to people. Nothing more or less. Don't take my word for it. If I'm full of it, you SHOULD ignore me. I think you'll find that I know about what I'm telling you however. Ask any professional--"if you have to fight to prop it up, you've already lost"

A box is a box. It doesn't matter what the potential for it is. It's simply about HOW PEOPLE SEE IT. It's very much about thinking in terms of stereotypes--or more accurately archetypes. It's about recognizing the broad view of what that thing represents. The point is not about "making people see potential in a box". The point rather is "making people see potential in AUTISTIC PEOPLE". The box is irrelevant. If it works, GREAT! If it doesn't, being married to it doesn't get you anywhere. The point is, you will not make people re-interpret their ideas about archetypal objects. That is NOT a fight you want to engage in, and you do this at the direct expense of your client. All this stuff is completely peripheral to your obligation to your client, which is very simply to portray them as elegantly, clearly, and positively as as possible. All I can say is this: As an autistic person I do not want to have a "box" having anything to do with representing me as a symbol that I'm supposed to be proud of. The universe is vast: Let it go. There is no lack of other things that you could work with that would be far more effective. I fail to understand the stubborn fixation with all these particulars. It doesn't make sense. Design requires one to be responsive to people's perceptions. Rigidity like this falls flat.

You're reading WAY too much into the whole thing about a fight with NT's. This has really nothing to do with my critique at all. My point is simply that you are not making a logo for NT's: You are making one for Autistic people. That needs to be your paramount concern in this job. A box is a box. There is nothing wrong with a box in itself. It depends on what it is you're trying to communicate. But it represents particular things. It represents "boxiness" It represents "rigidity", it represents a state of being contained, bound, or held-in. I don't make these rules--but as designers, they're something that in order to be successful, we have to be able to understand (how common archetypal symbols are perceived).

Finally, I commend you on your dedication to your vision. Just have to say, listening can be productive. I'm a professional. I apologize for seeming hyper-critical to you. I sat through architecture school for years, and trust me--that is what designers should be prepared to encounter. It is not about ego, pride, nastiness, etc. It is about getting at the best thing. There's a big difference between making art because it pleases you, and doing it commercially, or to serve the needs of another, external party (client, etc). Please understand it is nothing personal. I don't know a thing about you. I wish you well. As I said, I'd like to see more, and I meant that. This one is just not working. Take or leave my advice as you choose. Here's all I want--seeing something really great and elegant that representing my community. In professional design you've got to be willing to present 10 unique schemes you're really committed to, out of probably 100 variations you've thrown out. It doesn't fly to jut present one and say "take it or leave it". Trust one who has learned through experience: they will leave it. The puzzle pieces have problems. This is not it either Who knows, maybe I should do an attempt at this myself--then you can critique me :) I'm not saying I have the perfect scheme up my sleeve. Just offering you the critical feedback you'd requested.
woohooligan's avatar
You're not listening.

:bulletblue: But then why doesn't the "A' itself have any diversity to it???

There's multiple colors within the upper half of the A -- representing diversity inside the autism community, just as there is diversity among NTs represented by the color variance inside the square. The stems of the A don't need to be rainbow colored for the same reason the lines of the box don't need to be rainbow colored.

:bulletblue: This just doesn't make any sense. The "A" represent "autism" (or alternately "Aspergers") There is nothing ambiguous about that.

Correct. That's what the A represents.

:bulletblue: People are not going to say "the other things in the graphic represent autism, and the great big 'A' is just there for show". That is an objectively unnatural interpretation that just is not going to happen.

Uhh... yeah... the A represents autism and the color variance inside the A represents diversity within the autistic community. Not sure why this concept is so hard for you to grasp. It's a pretty simple, dare I say "natural" idea that if a thing (the A) contains something else (the rainbow) that there's an implied relationship there.

:bulletblue: You still don't explain anything why a "box" is there. Logo design is about elegance and conciseness. What is "the box" for? You're committed to an idea that a "box" is necessary to represent autism or autistic people.

Yes, yes I did. You're not paying attention. Two things.

1) I'm not committed to the idea that a box is necessary to represent autism -- I presented this as AN idea of a symbol that could represent the autistic community in a positive light. If other people want to suggest other symbols and those symbols become more popular, then fine, but this was my suggestion.

2) The box is there, as I've said before, because the phrase "outside the box" is a popular idiom that's easy for people to understand and share.

:bulletblue: My original criticism of this has not been addressed at all. I am NOT happy being represented by a "box" of ANY kind. It is clunky and rigid and I simply will not own that. I would prefer to be represented by something with at least the complexity and organic shape of the puzzle piece that a black square. I think it's terrible to represent Autism this way (if you're intention is to communicate a positive message about it).

Meanwhile you're complaining that you're being portrayed as rigid. :roll: Sounds like you're worried about being represented that way because that's on your mind a lot and you worry that maybe it's true... and you certainly do seem rigidly married to this position of yours that everyone else MUST share your interpretation of the box. For example, you say specifically a "black square"... Why does it even have to be black? If you read the original description, one of my goals was to make something that anyone could scrawl on a cocktail napkin, so the box might just as well be drawn with a red pen -- and so would the A.

:bulletblue: WOW. You will really have to explain yourself on this one. NT's aren't part of it. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it's a logo that is supposed to specifically stand for AUTISM/AUTISTICS. Where does it even come from that you are including NT's in the logo? It isn't a logo of "a world where NT's and Autistics live together in harmony". It isn't a logo for an NT/Autistic Club (a version of a gay/straight club?) It's a logo for AUTISTICS themselves. Listen: I have NO PROBLEM with autistics and NT's living together in harmony. But that is not your job to depict as a designer making a logo FOR AUTISTIC PEOPLE TO REPRESENT THEMSELVES. I don't get this. It seems like purely after the fact arguing.

Because autism IS defined by its relationship to NTs... if it weren't for the fact that we are different from them, there would be no label, no "autism" to begin with. How else would you define it? How else would you begin to imagine a symbol to represent autism? Anything that you might choose as a conceptual symbol to represent autism would begin with some trait of autism -- and that trait would only exist because someone contrasted it with the traits of NTs. The alternative is you try and come up with a symbol to represent autism or autistics that comes out of a vacuum -- that's like trying to produce a symbol for humans so they can identify each other and know that they're dealing with other humans... which would be pretty redundant, given that we're we're all human (at least yet). Sure you could just use an A by itself, but that's pretty obscure and not likely to catch on. You could use the flag semaphore for A the way the peace symbol came about from the semaphores for N and D (nuclear disarmament). But that semaphore pretty much looks like an A, and you're back to the same problem of just using an A - it's not very distinct.

:bulletblue: This has nothing to do with ANY kind of "conflict" or "power differential" It is a logo depicting SOMETHING very particular (as all logos do)--ONE THING-- that thing would be the Autistic people. It is not a representation of the entire universe showing everything in creation depicted, with an indication of how autistic people should fit into that. It is a ostensibly a logo FOR AUTISTIC PEOPLE to represent themselves, necessarily in contrast to non-autistic people.

There you go, just proved my last point.

:bulletblue: Here's an example: Apple's logo doesn't show Apple as one company fitting into the computer industry with another little piece depicting Microsoft, etc. That is not how logos work. Apple's logo is APPLE-centric. That is why it exists. Similarly McDonald's M does not show it coexisting peacefully together with Burger King. The purpose of a logo is, specifically differentiation, and self promotion.

Neither Apple or McDonalds are really analogous. In both cases you're talking about corporate entities in which there was a top-down organization and whoever was at the top had complete control over corporate policies and an idea of the directions they wanted to go and didn't need any input or "buy in" from anyone else to create their logos. That's just for starters. Neither are either of these entities that are genuinely defined by social contrast. Apple makes computers. McDonalds makes burgers. And while they each try to differentiate themselves from their competition (Apple's recent commercials being especially poignant, given their depiction of the Microsoft community), ultimately they're doing what others in their industry are doing. We on the other hand are defined by NOT doing what others are doing. Socially Apple and McDonalds are defined by sameness within a category (computers / burgers), not by contrast.

:bulletblue: A square is simply a very static shape. Geometry makes it this--not my statement. I didn't make this up.

This doesn't even mean anything. :roll:

:bulletblue: Try presenting it elsewhere. Do a logo with a black square an a letter for any company, organization, etc and present it to them: See how unfair or how harsh I'm being in simply communicating this message to you.

Again... why is it specifically "black"? The color is irrelevant. The point was to make something that could be scrawled on a cocktail napkin, which you can't do with any of the existing puzzle designs. For that matter... you can't really do it with many corporate logos. Even Apple's logo, as elegant as it is, isn't especially easy for people to draw. And the McDonalds logo just looks like an M and isn't distinguishable from the letter if you're just drawing it on paper. I'm not sure why you think I'm going for "corporate logo design" here... my goals were rather different.

:bulletblue: You will recall that I didn't even come up with the idea of "the box" or being inside or outside of it: This is the language that came along with the representation being presented. I'm simply going on what you presented--and offering my expertise and an objective eye, which you specifically requested. You have to be willing to look at what's out there.

Yep, I've seen what's out there... puzzle ribbons... they suck. That's what's currently the dominant symbol for us... ugh...

I'm willing to accept some ideas, but just because I've asked for feedback doesn't mean I'm automatically going to agree with you. :roll:

:bulletblue: Part of design is being clear and committed about the intention.

Which I was.

:bulletblue: If the imagery is not, in fact, "Autism outside the box" then why is the a black square with an "A" coming out of it, and the language explicitly stating that? You can't have it both ways. You can't have something that works on one particular very subjective, after-the-fact clarification, because your primary intention didn't work out.

Now I really don't see where you're getting that...

You've seen peace symbols, yes? Would you know that it meant "peace" if someone hadn't told you that after the fact? And yet, somehow it manages to be one of the most recognizable symbols worldwide. If people adopt it, then the meaning will be clear, because the "outside the box" idea can be explained in all of a second or two by whomever is using it... or at least, they can explain that it means "autism" if they don't know the underlying symbolism. But people don't know the underlying symbolism of the gay-pride flag either and yet, the colors actually had specific meanings... but that symbol is all over the freaking place too.

People don't have to understand every nuance of the symbol in order for it to have utility.

:bulletblue: And you can't present something and then say--well, I didn't really like it/think it was good anyway (as with the rainbow colors).

Yes, I can. As I said before, the colors aren't an integral part of the design. :roll: Am I speaking English here? Because I sure thought I was.

:bulletblue: You have to have something that people see and immediately UNDERSTAND the imagery of it.

That's demonstrably not true - as with peace. :peace: :roll:

:bulletblue: Preferably it needs to be very clever and work on a number of different levels. Kind of like graphic "puns" or what you'd think of as wordplay, in a sense. That is ideal and that is what professional designers strive for but don't always succeed in achieving. A good logo often serves as a mnemonic device, or something that make a strong point about the essence of what's being represented.

Yep, that's why I went with the "outside the box" idiom.

:bulletblue: These are the type of things I'd try to strongly emphasize about Autistic people: Creativity, vision, uniqueness, diversity, brilliance, "asset to society", sensitivity (in a positive connotation), belonging, "capable", giftedness, "standing out", and so on.

If you think you can easily create some kind of immediately recognizable symbol that can be scrawled on a cocktail napkin and at the same time includes such vague or abstract concepts as "capable" and "uniqueness" (which -- isn't that represented by the "outside the box" idiom? -- also "standing out"), then go for it. What's stopping you? It can't be me stopping you. You're really married to the idea that my design sucks, but you don't seem too interested in offering any real alternative.

:bulletblue: These are the type of things I would specifically avoid any possible representation of for them (simply because such representations do not serve the interests of improving the public public's perception of them): Rigidity, brittleness, lack of color, one-dimentionality, harshness, being boxed-in, dependence, hostility or temper, sensitivity (in a negative connotation), brokenness, confusion, etc.

:lmao: "lack of color" ... it's because it's "black" isn't it? :roll:

"being boxed in" is obviously not the case if the idiom is "outside the box"

And I still don't see "rigidness" or "brittleness" being represented in this design... sorry. Well no, I'm not sorry, just confused as to why you keep beating that dead horse. :shrug:

:bulletblue: Appreciate that presenting a design is not about arguing with people, "Is too!" after the fact. It is about having a solid clear and elegant intention, and executing it in a way that makes it this intention visually obvious to people. Nothing more or less. Don't take my word for it. If I'm full of it, you SHOULD ignore me. I think you'll find that I know about what I'm telling you however. Ask any professional--"if you have to fight to prop it up, you've already lost"

Okay, I'll just ignore you then. I'm sure you do know what you're talking about when it comes to corporate logo design -- but that's not what I was trying to do, so... You're the only person I've had to "fight to prop it up" to... most of the people I've talked to have liked it. So I've had a lot more evidence against your argument here than in favor of it so far.

:bulletblue: A box is a box.

And 90% of law school students graduate in the bottom 90% of their class too... I heard someone on public radio make that statement the other day. Made me chuckle.

:bulletblue: It doesn't matter what the potential for it is. It's simply about HOW PEOPLE SEE IT. It's very much about thinking in terms of stereotypes--or more accurately archetypes.

Autistic people are perhaps the one group of people least likely to care about common stereotypes or archetypes... or to share them.

:bulletblue: It's about recognizing the broad view of what that thing represents.

So what you're saying is that a square represents one very specific set of ideas about rigidity and brittleness and can never represent anything else... because the term "square meal" is all about rigidity and brittleness for sure... And so does "fair and square" and "squared off" and "squared away" and "square deal".

No, people see boxes or squares in more than just the one way. By my reckoning, squares are also seen as symbols of desirable order, fairness and "correctness".

:bulletblue: The point is not about "making people see potential in a box". The point rather is "making people see potential in AUTISTIC PEOPLE". The box is irrelevant. If it works, GREAT! If it doesn't, being married to it doesn't get you anywhere.

So make your own design. Look. There wasn't anything worthwhile anywhere in the world as of yet. I tried something. I like it. A lot of people I've talked to like it. You didn't and you offered some criticism. I disagree with your criticism. Move on. If you want something else, make something else, see if it sticks. If yours gets traction and mine doesn't, I'll be more than happy to use it.

:bulletblue: The point is, you will not make people re-interpret their ideas about archetypal objects. That is NOT a fight you want to engage in, and you do this at the direct expense of your client. All this stuff is completely peripheral to your obligation to your client, which is very simply to portray them as elegantly, clearly, and positively as as possible.

I won't have to... and I don't have a client. :roll:

:bulletblue: All I can say is this: As an autistic person I do not want to have a "box" having anything to do with representing me as a symbol that I'm supposed to be proud of. The universe is vast: Let it go.

That last bit right there -- you should take your own advice, I think it's good.

:bulletblue: There is no lack of other things that you could work with that would be far more effective. I fail to understand the stubborn fixation with all these particulars. It doesn't make sense. Design requires one to be responsive to people's perceptions. Rigidity like this falls flat.

Umm... you... just YOU, dude... just because I had ONE guy come to me and complain about some shit I didn't agree with, doesn't make me rigid. Just because I didn't immediately fold over and agree with you and hang on your every word, doesn't make me fixated.

You haven't even offered any alternatives. If you had, I might have taken you up on them, but you didn't, so... so sad for you.

Here's a bit of advice -- don't start an argument with someone and then whine and complain when it doesn't go your way that this person is just inflexible. It really won't do anything for your reputation. But it looks especially bad when the other person in the argument has demonstrated flexibility by stating (numerous times) that he's willing to entertain alternatives and that some of his ideas are really just spit-balling (the rainbow).

:bulletblue: You're reading WAY too much into the whole thing about a fight with NT's.

Who said anything about a fight? I never said anything about a fight... now you're just reading way too much into... into what I have no idea, that was way out of left field.

:bulletblue: This has really nothing to do with my critique at all. My point is simply that you are not making a logo for NT's: You are making one for Autistic people. That needs to be your paramount concern in this job. A box is a box. There is nothing wrong with a box in itself. It depends on what it is you're trying to communicate. But it represents particular things. It represents "boxiness" It represents "rigidity", it represents a state of being contained, bound, or held-in. I don't make these rules--but as designers, they're something that in order to be successful, we have to be able to understand (how common archetypal symbols are perceived).</b>

Microsoft does pretty well with square logos. So do GM, Holiday Inn, PC Magazine, Hasbro, Facebook... I'm sure the list is long. And if people understand the idiom "outside the box" then they're not going to feel the symbol represents them being "contained" or "bound" or "held-in", since the idiom itself is the exact opposite of that. :roll:

:bulletblue: Finally, I commend you on your dedication to your vision. Just have to say, listening can be productive.

Listening is not the same thing as agreeing. :roll:

:bulletblue: I'm a professional. I apologize for seeming hyper-critical to you. I sat through architecture school for years, and trust me--that is what designers should be prepared to encounter. It is not about ego, pride, nastiness, etc. It is about getting at the best thing. There's a big difference between making art because it pleases you, and doing it commercially, or to serve the needs of another, external party (client, etc). Please understand it is nothing personal. I don't know a thing about you. I wish you well. As I said, I'd like to see more, and I meant that. This one is just not working. Take or leave my advice as you choose. Here's all I want--seeing something really great and elegant that representing my community. In professional design you've got to be willing to present 10 unique schemes you're really committed to, out of probably 100 variations you've thrown out. It doesn't fly to jut present one and say "take it or leave it". Trust one who has learned through experience: they will leave it. The puzzle pieces have problems. This is not it either Who knows, maybe I should do an attempt at this myself--then you can critique me :) I'm not saying I have the perfect scheme up my sleeve. Just offering you the critical feedback you'd requested.

You should try and make something. See what people think.

My understanding is that there've been several attempts already and it's pretty difficult to get the autistic community at large to take to any single idea.

If anything takes root, I'll be happy -- it doesn't have to be my design, it's just the idea I had.

I don't currently have any other ideas that would be easily converted to a cocktail napkin, and that's going to be a requirement for me personally because if it doesn't meet that test I don't think it will ever stick.

But you can't take every person's thoughts about the symbol as gospel because then you'll never have anything at all -- or you'll be stuck with those stupid puzzle ribbons.

I had tried another design a few years before that was actually just an A in a circle with the bottom of the circle left open where it connected to the A. I thought that would also be easy for people to draw or share. I remember somebody commented that the bottom corners where the legs of the A met the circle looked "sharp" to them and made them uncomfortable. It doesn't matter what you design, somebody's going to bitch. This design actually met with a lot more positive feedback than the last one, so make of that what you will.
Lizlovestoons12's avatar
Now, this one, I like!
woohooligan's avatar
magic6jewls's avatar
The first one looks the best. The bottom three just reminded me of the gay pride flag. Just my personal opinion though!
woohooligan's avatar
Yeah, that's why I changed the colors, to differentiate it from the GLBT pride flag. I don't much care for the background colors either, but I wanted to emphasize the point that people are meant to take liberties with the design.

Thanks, Julia!
magic6jewls's avatar
Your welcome! I really love the design though because you could see the A in the box.
EarthVStheDerek's avatar
This autistic person approves. A little better than the puzzle pieces.
woohooligan's avatar
BrendanR85's avatar
I myself have Asperger syndrome, and I think you've made a very valid point with this submission. :)
woohooligan's avatar
Thanks, Brendan! :highfive:

p.s. Nice typewriter. ;)
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