Visual Research



An image or photograph of a bird shares many likenesses of an actual bird. In this case, the photo of a bird is considered an icon.


Flipping the Bird

Sans wings, beak, and everything else that might resemble a bird—this gesture has become a symbol in Western culture for "fuck you."



An 80's television series that revolved around Streethawk, an all-terrain attack motorcycle designed to fight urban crime.

Mark "The Bird" Fidrych

Mark Fidrych was a Major League Baseball player for the Detroit Tigers from 1976-1980.

Bird Egg

The bird egg, while not sharing any likeness to an actual bird, points to it. It is an index of or reference to that which is signified: the bird.

Larry Bird

Larry Bird is a retired American NBA basketball player who played for the Boston Celtics.

Bird's Nest

Just like the egg, the nest references the animal which occupies or builds it—in this case, the bird. The nest is a place of refuge for bird and egg.

Kentucky Fried Chicken

Kentucky Fried Chicken has long been an American icon for delicious chicken. Their logo serves as both a symbol and an index.

Tweet, Tweet

The Twitter bird has become an integral part of our social networking habits. It is both the icon of a bird and a symbol of our socio/techno dependency.

Bird is the Word

"Bird is the Word" is a song performed by the American surf rock band The Trashmen, which reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Bird Shit

Guano is another name for it. We most often encounter bird shit in large quantities on parked cars and lakeside docks or piers.


Nests are comprised of sticks, twigs, and many other natural elements. The nest serves as an index to the bird.

Air Force Logo

The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare, space warfare, and cyberwarfare branch of the U.S. armed forces.


A naturalist illustration, much like a photograph, is packed with visual details. Such an image is considered iconic.

Baltimore Ravens

This mark is iconic in its portrayal of a bird. At the same time the illustration serves as a symbol for the professional footbal team.


An apple

An icon, as defined by Charles Sanders Peirce, is that which closely resembles or imitates the signified. This imitation can be achieved through looking, feeling, sounding, smelling or tasting like that which is signified. It possesses some of the same qualities.

A prime example of iconicity is an illustration or a naturalist's rendering, a mode of representation that requires a minimal amount of cognitive abilities to make the connection between signifier and signified. Artists heighten the markings and details of birds to convey their specific identities in the animal kingdom.


Apple seeds

Just like a pointing index finger, the indexical mode of representation points to, or is physically or causally connected to, that which signifies or represents. The index is not an arbitrary link. Smoke points to or is evidence of a fire, just as a bullet hole points to the bullet or gun that made it.

In design, indexicality is an enigmatic and creative mode of representing an idea or product. The singular feather is an index of that which is signified... a bird.


The Apple Inc. logo

Symbols are by definition arbitrary or conventional. They are dependent upon a social agreement and must be learned. Perhaps the most widely used system of symbols is our humble alphabet—a representation of language. It is comprised of letterforms that possess no intrinsic connection to sounds of speech. It is a simple framework for communication.

Other common examples of symbols are traffic signals or nautical flags. The dove is a common symbol of peace.