Dr. Jung said, "The creative process, so far as we are able to follow it at all, consists in the
unconscious activation of an archetypal image and elaborating and shaping the image into the
finished work. By giving it shape, the artist translates it into the language of the present and so
makes it possible for us to find our way back to the deepest springs of life."
Archetypes and Symbols are fascinating topics to study and there have been many important
books written about them, in particular by Dr. Jung. He studied the importance of archetypes and
symbolism in Art, among other things.
As Jung put it, "Therein lies the social significance of art: It is constantly at work educating the
spirit of the age, conjuring up the forms in which the age is more lacking. The unsatisfied yearning
of the artist reaches back to the primordial image in the unconscious, which is best fitted to
compensate the inadequacy and one-sidedness of the present. The artist seizes on this image
and, in raising it from the deepest unconsciousness, he brings it into relation with conscious
values, thereby transforming it until it can be accepted by the minds of his contemporaries
according to their powers".
|Archetypes and symbols communicate
with us on both a conscious and
WHAT ARE SYMBOLS?
An object or image that represents something else. For example, the lion is a symbol of courage.
Flowers can symbolize many different things, such as love, life, or remembrance. Fire is viewed by
many cultures as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge.
Symbols communicate with both the conscious and unconscious parts of our minds and transcend
language. We've read that some symbols are so powerful that even animals can respond to them.
We like the idea of creating artwork with symbols that communicate ideas on both conscious and
|SYMBOLS AND ARCHETYPES IN GRAFFITI
|THINK ABOUT DIFFERENT WAYS YOU CAN USE SYMBOLS AND ARCHETYPES IN YOUR OWN ARTWORK!
WHAT ARE ARCHETYPES
Archetypes are universal, common life experiences that people from all cultures share. Like love, for
example. Motherhood, fatherhood, desire, fear, friendship, nature and belief in god are all themes
containing elements of archetypes. Psychologist Carl Jung called these common experiences a kind
of "collective unconscious" of the human race. Children's stories are filled with different archetypal
characters that kids easily recognize. Here's some examples: princesses & princes, heroes &
heroines, mad scientists & monsters, wise elders, fairies & pirates, angels & devils, mothers &
fathers. We will write more on this subject in the future.
HOW SYMBOLS ARE USED IN ART
For centuries artists have used symbols to stand in for objects or ideas. For example, an artist
might put the sea god Poseidon in a picture to represent the sea and everything sea related.
Some of the popular symbols you will find in graffiti art are hearts, stars, flowers, eyes, arrows,
halos, skulls, flames, and numbers. These symbols mean different things to different people.
To us, hearts symbolize love and we use them all the time in our work. Below are many different
variations of a heart that you can put in your own graffiti designs. Also, you can watch a fun art
video by graffiti artist Scape Martinez about the symbolism of a heart and how to paint it graffiti
|"The vital role of the artist in modern
society is to help us see the messages
that emanate from the collective
unconscious". - Dr. Carl Jung
Flowers can be used in art as both archetype and symbol. They can symbolize many different things,
such as love, life, or remembrance. Specific types of flowers can have different meanings in different
cultures. To some Native Americans, wild roses are a symbol of life, and sunflowers are a symbol of
courage. In some Hispanic cultures, poinsettias are associated with Christmas. In Japan, the lotus
flower symbolizes attaining enlightenment, due to its ability to rise from murky waters to bloom
into a beautiful pure flower.
symbolize both good and evil. Skulls can be drawn cartoonishly, like the example above, or
Skulls have strong religious and spiritual connotations in many different cultures. Some people
think skulls represent death, mortality, or evil. But others believe that skulls symbolize life,
protection, power, fearlessness, wisdom and guidance, strength, overcoming death or surviving
through a difficult time. Christian Cortes is a great example of a master graffiti artist who uses
skulls in a positive way throughout his work. He feels they symbolize life and he draws them
realistically. You can check out his work at Christian Cortes on flickr here and here and here.
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