The YHT icons story

I was working on an early-stage layout for the Yuin Healing Trail website when Cate from YHT asked me to design icons for the 7 Themes for Yuin Healing. She gave me a list of the themes and told me they shall represent these themes online and for print and were quite crucial to be featured on the site for the launch, which was not far away.

It was immediately clear to me that for these themes you wouldn't be able to use existing icons from the thousands of icons that are available, at least not in a satisfying way. However, i remember to have used some more or less random icons as placeholders for the web layout so Cate had something to look at and i could start working on the proper icons. I might not have made clear that the ones i used where placeholders, as Cate soon enquired if i was serious with the icons :).

The design for the icons went surprisingly quick due to the fact that Cate had had this great idea to commission Summer Sky to paint a picture that represented healing for her and we'd use that as an inspiration for the YHT design. It was a courageous approach, as no one knew where it would go but it was the most beautiful process and it was great to be involved in the Zoom call for Summer's briefing and then hear her story of how she had literally dreamed up her 'My Tree Dreaming' painting and it came out so beautiful. The fact that she painted a tree made so much sense to me and informed hugely how i went about the icons.

Even though i had already worked with Ngungwulah i could sense a fear in regard to creating those icons as a non-indigenous individual. What if my symbols turn out to be culturally completely wrong? I relied on the feeling that my understanding of what it was about and my intention were pure and if something should turn out wrong, i would be told and it can be corrected. So i immersed into the themes and did some sketching on paper (see above) which i scanned and imported into Illustrator. A color palette from Sky's painting i had already derived for the website, so i used a restricted palette for coloring, which makes them work together beautifully. Really taking time to look at summer's artwork helped with certain decisions.

Having worked alongside Uncle Paul McLeod for Ngungwulah for a couple of years has deepened my understanding of indigenous culture. I believe in its essence, it teaches what we all know is undeniably true if we take time to listen not only with our ears and see not only with our eyes. I love work where i learn a lot in the process. Working on the YHT project and creating these icons was and is such work and i feel very honored to have been trusted with the task and hope people will relate.


Stefan Joesler

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