The origins and rise of the Extinction Symbol

I interview the Londoner whose design now powers a global movement.

In the 1950s British designer Gerald Holtom created the CND logo for the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The clean black and white icon spread to the US and fast became the international symbol for peace. This is an unquestionable example of the power of symbols to represent, unify and communicate; but just one of millions of signs and symbols used by humans to try and make sense of the world around us. From Aboriginal art to graffiti, visual communication is a core component of civilization; whether enabling social cohesion or social change.

Today, against the backdrop of rising temperatures, daily species extinction and school walkouts across the globe, the environmental movement has finally found its symbol: Extinction Symbol. Seen on flags, walls, and on social media the globe over, it has one clear message: we are running out of time.

It was propelled onto the streets of the UK in Autumn 2018 as the official logo of Extinction Rebellion (XR), the fast growing global social movement for climate action. In six months, Extinction Rebellion has spread across the globe – representing true environmental action. Whilst this icon has been used thousands of times on and off-line, the origins of the icon haven’t yet fully been interrogated. For anyone interested in the role that design and art can play in environmental communication, it’s a fascinating trail to follow.

Read the full interview on Ecohustler.