Art, Meaning and the CPDX Logo

Any art or design enthusiasts reading today? Today’s post is about art and how artists include symbolism in what they create. I took a class on art history when I lived in Boston and was fascinated by the Italian Renaissance. I enjoyed learning how artists like Brunelleschi, Uccello and Rafaello (my favorite) created beautiful art while subtly placing symbols in their work. Here is Rafaello’s School of Athens:


The fresco is a celebration of knowledge and wisdom. Raphael filled the scene with  many important artists and philosophers (he placed his rival Michelangelo front and center), and even slipped his self-portrait in along the right edge. (You can see a larger image if you click here, and Wikipedia has a good description of who some of the characters in the painting are here.)

Staying with the symbolism theme, I thought I’d share a little bit about what the Caffeinated PDX logo stands for. If you are a fan of art or  “symbology” (the fictitious discipline that Robert Langdon studies in The Da Vinci Code), you might enjoy hearing about it. The logo is more than just a bunch of lines on a page and has at least five layers of meaning in it (though I’m not trying to say it compares to anything that the Renaissance masters have done). Hopefully, when you look at the logo from now on, you will think of what it stands for and remember that there can be a lot of meaning hidden inside simple things.

Before I describe it, though, I’d like you to study the logo for a minute and think about what you might see in it. Then when you’re done thinking, jump below to peer inside the mind of the artist.

The first meaning is all about the coffee. You can see a wisp of vapor rising above the rim of a coffee cup. This is a warm, comforting sight when you grab a cup of coffee on a cold day. You might also see that the steam looks like the profile of someone’s face, someone who could be taking a sip from the cup. Or you might see that the steam looks like a winding path. This represents wandering, something I’ve done quite a bit. In addition, the steam looks similar to a quarter note rest on a musical score written backwards, reflecting my interest in music.

Finally, if you take another look at the rim of the cup on the bottom part of the logo, you can see how it looks like a subtle smile. This represents the little pick-me-up that people get from their coffee or, hopefully, from reading this blog ;). That’s our goal here at Caffeinated PDX—to bring you that subtle smile every time you come by for a visit.