How to Discover Your Symbols
One of the things you do as a writer and as a filmmaker is grasp for resonant symbols and imagery.” ~ Christopher Nolan
It’s possible that you are using symbols without even noticing.
One way to discover your symbols is to survey your current and past work. What common threads do they share? What colors, motifs or shapes reappear? Are there particular marks that you like to include in your work?
Another source of symbols is to look at artwork that you are attracted to. What is it about the image that you like? Can you find any symbols? Are they metaphoric? Are they figurative? Do the symbols that you find tell a story or remind you of a memory?
You can also add to your collection of symbols by making a list of meaningful words.
Create or assign a symbol to each word. What is the message that you want to share through your art? Think about what is important in your life. Your core values are a good way to start the list. What are the values you hold dear to your heart?
Alternatively, you can start with symbols that you are interested in incorporating into your artwork.
Assign your particular meaning to the symbol. Meanings will change with time, so no need to feel stuck with the meaning that you assign right now.
In case you have a symbol and are not sure of the meaning, there is no reason you can’t use it. Eventually, it will be revealed, or not. If there is no associated meaning, that is okay. You can certainly use a symbol, shape, or color just because you like it. Don’t hold back.
Books are a handy way to find symbols.
A children’s picture dictionary is a fun way to find symbols. Reference books, such as The Illustrated Signs and Symbols Sourcebook by Adele Nozedar can spark ideas and help build your collection.
Any symbols that you use will automatically have your own meaning transferred onto it.
When you adopt a symbol don’t worry that you are stealing. For example, our alphabet is a series of recognizable marks assembled into words. We all share these 26 symbols freely without much thought.
Symbols are all around us. They are figurative and/or metaphorical. Keep a notebook or a sketchbook nearby to keep track of them.
Read Part 1 of the Use of Symbols in Your Art HERE.