Prehistoric Illustration: Semiotically Unlocking and Learning from Early Visual Communication

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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This paper aims to do three things. Firstly, it aims to make the case that the roots of illustration and visual communication stretch back to the dark cave walls during the last Ice Age. In doing so, secondly this paper orientates the reader into the basics of Peirce’s semiotic sign-action (Semiosis), as a phenomenological framework applied to illustration to enhance visual communications with a primary target audience. This will then lead to the third aim, which is to demonstrate how semiotics pervades every image in some way, whether intentionally or not. To illustrate how Semiosis works and how it can help modern illustrators to encode stronger levels of meaning in their work; we will see how Semiosis can still unlock meaning in paintings over 45,000 years old.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication10th International Conference on Illustration and Animation
Place of PublicationPortugal
PublisherInstituto Politécnico do Cávado e do Ave
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9789895493999
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2023


  • Peirce
  • Cave Art
  • Sign-action
  • Semiosis
  • Semiotics
  • Palaeoillustrator
  • Palaeontology
  • Illustration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology


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