‘Public Health Iconathon’ at Insight2



If you look through my most recent posts on this blog, you’ll notice a recent explosion of public health related icons I created back in October during my self-hosted Iconathon.

A summary piece of the Iconathon (above) will be featured at Insight 2: Engaging the Health Humanities at the University of Alberta in May. I mention this because not only am I delighted to take part, Insight 2 is one of the few exhibits that I know of that is exploring the intersections of design, art and health promotion. Moreover, Insight 2 is based in Alberta and, generally, I find that the conversation around design+art+health is limited here in Canada. Here is a quick blurb from their website about the aims of this project:

InSight 2 explores how we can engage the health humanities to help us work collaboratively across disciplines 
and communities, to imagine and design innovative and transformative processes, communications, products, environments, services and experiences that can help to promote our health and well-being.

Based on this description and my goals with the Iconathon, I thought it would be an appropriate addition to the exhibit. Here’s my explanation of how it aligns with this greater mandate:

“Public Health Iconathon” is a visual summary of an ‘icon marathon’ completed in October 2012 in response to the lack of recognizable, universal and usable imagery conveying complex public health concepts. Over a one-month period, twenty-five public health concepts were iconized, with personal Twitter followers and peers of the illustrator involved in helping brainstorm terms to visualize. Icons were created in less than one hour in order to encourage rapid ideation, iteration and prototyping.

The iconathon represents a type of visual design ‘jam’ or ‘charrette’ that I believe is important to incorporate into public health practice. Through ongoing and creative collaboration and a participatory co-design process, we can create new visual imagery in order to expand the public’s understanding of health and wellbeing, and improve health literacy, signage, and wayfinding. The ultimate goal is to create a more robust visual vocabulary for health.

Anyhow, if you’re in Edmonton AB in May, I think this showcase will be a great opportunity to see how practitioners, healthcare users, artists and designers are promoting health through creative and less conventional means. I look forward to seeing the other submissions!

Icons #14-19: Backlog!

My iconathon came to a brief pause last week here on the blog…at least posting-wise. The icon making didn’t stop.

Here is a collection of icons related to the social determinants of health and the conditions needed for health to flourish. These account for the missing days of this iconathon. Enjoy!

#14: Fresh, Healthy Food


#15: Justice


#16: Peace

#17: Income

#18: Housing


#19: Resistance/Unity


Bonus: Education


We’ve Moved + Public Health Icon, “Health 2.0”


Glad you found me at andrealyip.com!

As you may or may not know, I recently made the transition here from my “drawed” blog that was hosted on WordPress.com. I still want this space to be one where I share visuals and ideas that I’m working on (personally and professionally) and have challenged myself to get back into the blogging spirit through a personal Public Health “Iconathon” for the month of October. “Iconathon” is a term I borrow from the Noun Project to describe a visual blitz where I will create icons that can visually communicate different ideas and concepts related to health.

I have been asking and searching around these days for various health related icons and have found that a lot of concepts, particularly in public health, are under represented and/or highly abstract. A lot of them also borrow generic imagery from one other (oftentimes a “Y” shaped person with extended arms representing terms like “empowerment”, “community” and “health”). Granted, many concepts are quite complex. How does one iconize “social determinants of health” for instance? Not an easy task, but a worthwhile one nonetheless. If you could represent issues like “mental health” or the “health system” in a simplified and universal image, that would be incredibly powerful. Moreover, I think this can help build a sense of identity for concepts and topics in health, and for those working in these areas.

The “rules” I made for myself are pretty simple:

  1. Black & White
  2. My ‘drawing board’ is a square
  3. Minimize unnecessary details that cannot be seen from a distance
  4. Don’t spend more than 1 hour creating each icon (from start to finish)
  5. Create 3 icons / week.

To start, I have created an icon I’ll label “Health 2.0”. It blends the tech and medical/health side of things. I also happen to be attending Health 2.0 SF events all weekend long and next week, so it serves as a visual thought bubble of where my head will be at over the next two weeks.