Icon #10: “Male + Female Condom”



When I was originally trying to create an icon to represent birth control / contraception, I came up with some ideas…none of which I thought really conveyed the concept well: A barrier between egg and sperm, a crossed out fetus (which I quickly realized might be interpreted as referring to an abortion), and then the specific methods themselves (e.g., condoms, Depo, patch, ring, IUD, etc.).

I ended up creating the above icon of a male condom. Condoms are commonly used to represent birth control, barrier methods and contraception. I find that most people will tend to automatically associate the male condom with pregnancy prevention or better yet, safer sex. I decided not to create a female condom icon because it is less well known and in many cases, people just don’t know what the female condom looks like. And then…I started thinking that this is a great reason to create an icon and some visibility for it! So, Voila:



Female condoms can be a very powerful tool for safer sex and best of all, insertion and use is female led. They are a bit unusual looking (people joke that it’s like a large, noisy plastic bag) but in the end, they are protective and a great option for many women. I don’t think I did it much justice as an icon, but I’m not sure how best to visualize it. I placed the inner ring at a tilt to show that it’s moveable and versatile compared to the outer ring. Would love your thoughts on any improvements I can make.

The Unintentional Bedtime Story



I have problems falling asleep.

Usually my mind is racing at bedtime. I think about the day that passed…what’s to come…ideas that are percolating in my head.

And what doesn’t help is that I don’t do a very good job of maintaining a strict sleep schedule. As you might be able to tell through the timing of my blog posts, I tend to stay awake at funny hours.

While out and about and traveling from conference to conference over the past while (AIGA, DMI and Design Thinkers…yes, I will be posting about my experiences at these events very soon!), a good friend of mine has tried to help remedy my inability to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. From this, the unintentional bedtime story was born.

The unintentional bedtime story can be anything from a “terms of agreement” policy to a dry journal article to a train schedule. These aren’t your typical bedtime stories: They tend not to convey highly engaging content because they tend to serve a very particular (often practical) purpose, for a particular audience, at a particular time. When pulled out of context, they can make for stellar sleep material.

Take for instance the example I use of an Apple Terms of Agreement document: I’m sure people actually read these documents through at some point in their lives (I have once but now just opt for the “Agree” button) but really, I’m not sure how much the average Apple user gets really excited about reading this legalese. Same goes for the example of the excerpt from a journal article: The example I include is completely fictional (and content-wise doesn’t offer much) but it does make me think about the language and audience that most research publications are targeted to and how this may not always be overly exciting to read, particularly by non-academics/researchers.

Anyways, I thought I might throw together some short bedtime stories that may also help you fall asleep. These are shortened versions, but I think it’d be fun to imagine what an illustrated policy/article may look like if turned into a full, beautiful storybook.

And if you’re the kind person who is reading these stories to someone else, hopefully the visuals help you avoid falling asleep at the same time.


Note: The “Source” links in the JPEG files were lost upon export. The content for the Apple story is here and the M1 Service Schedule is here.

InDesign note: I am starting to use a Wacom graphics tablet for some of the illustrations on the blog. Still trying to learn how to optimize this for InDesign, but in the meantime, expect more hand drawn content to come.