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Saturday, February 4, 2012

What's in a picture?

This past week some of us were designing a T-shirt to celebrate World Water Day and Aquaponics. The T-shirt is now live at Cafepress, and it's cool.

In the process, however, I came up with a slightly different logo, which I'll be using for my own aquaponics efforts. Thought I'd explain what I was thinking, and why this is such a perfect logo for "365 Aquaponics."

The T-shirt slogan talks about growing more food with every drop. Since I often have to explain aquaponics to folks, I thought a design that showed the fish in clean water and the plants in fertilized water would be cool. Of course, the plant would have to be above the fish. Since the system cycles constantly, I decided to show the drops chasing each other - it would also look a bit like the yin yang symbol, which implies completeness. Super-excited about my concept, I shared a sketch with the team:

They were underwhelmed. Frankly, I don't like it, after getting a good night of sleep. The term "hot mess" comes to mind.

The official T-shirt went forward with its elegant and simple graphic, but I couldn't get the idea out of my head. Around this time I decided to research the yin yang symbol, to make sure there wasn't some weird symbolism I wanted to avoid. That's when I found out that the original yin yang symbol was all about the seasons of the year.

Allen Tsai has a nice page describing the original origin, with plots showing the day when the sun shone longest (and cast the shortest shadow) versus the day the sun shone least and cast the longest shadow.

If you put a little white spot to symbolize the day the sun starts to "conquer," and a little black spot to symbolize the day the moon starts to "conquer," you get the familiar yin yang symbol. And it's all about the seasons of the year.

I created my yin yang art, and drew a fish. The plant is supposed to be generic plant - neither lotus nor lettuce nor flower, but somehow representative of all of these.

The final touch is the curved white line of bubbles, suggesting movement and the need to oxygenate the fishes' water. Voilà! An image that explains aquaponics and the full year, winter as well as summer.

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