Year of the Snake Begins Feb. 10: How You Can Use it in Projects

Are we about so see more snakes and s-curves trending in design?

According to the Chinese calendar, the year of the snake begins on Feb. 10, and in many years the animal represented gets more attention.

SEE ALSO: Best Practices: Leading Brands and Promotional Websites

So what should designers expect in this year of the snake? First think about what it represents. The year of the snake relates to steady progress, attention to detail and focus. (Things that are quite important to designers and developers.)

Also think about the meanings behind this animal in Chinese culture. Snakes are a positive sign, with it comes the thought that a family will not starve if there is a snake in the house.

So how can you use the snake or snake philosophy in your design projects this year?

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Snakes in Design

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Snakes are not a new design tool, although they may be trendy in 2013.

The serpent has long been used in a number of logos and graphic representations.

Snakes are often used to represent healthcare, such as hospitals or pharmacies. The common representation is two snakes entwined around a staff. The logo, which is an ancient symbol, is associated with healing through medicine. Snakes, when used in the medical sense, are often paired with blues or greens to create a sense of calm and health.

But snakes also have visual connotations that are more sinister. Some websites use snakes to portray fear – because of the number of people who are scared of the creatures – or mystery. In these instances snake imagery is often used with dark colors and dramatic typefaces to create that eerie mood.

Simply snakes are also used for websites in snake-related fields – think animal care and information. These snakes are often more accurately depicted and more and more sites are popping up with more cartoonish, fun snake designs.

Finally snake imagery is often used as a fashion tool – snakeskin boots and bags are popular accessories. Even some brands not associated with snakes are getting in with Year of the Snake-themed products. MAC Cosmetics, for example, recently launched an entire line around the theme, emphasizing what a popular trend this is likely to be in the upcoming year.

S-Curves and Lowing Shapes in Design

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Don’t just limit yourself to actual snake visuals when developing Year of the Snake visuals. Also consider shapes with the snake in mind – S-curves, rounded shapes and other flowy patterns.

The imagery will appear less sinister to users that are snake-phobic but still exhibit some of the great undertones and themes associated with the snake design.

While using snake images may take some space to execute, using curved snake-like features do not. You can create beautiful and intricate details using S-curves and lines. Consider these shapes for backgrounds, accents and even in your typography. (Note the wonderful curve on the “C” in Craft for The Blksmith Design Co. and the curvature in the lines around the word “and.”)

More Year of the Snake Associations

The Year of the Snake is about more than just a single animal, according to Chinese traditions. It is one of 12 animals depicted in the Chinese calendar. This year’s snake is represented by the water snake, which is considered lucky when it comes to money and wealth. They are also considered to be intelligent and adventurous. Imagine those concepts when designing with a snake theme in mind.

The color associated with the Year of the Snake is black. This color association with the snake brings about mixed meanings, with feelings of change and instability.

What meshes well with Year of the Snake imagery?

Lucky colors for this animal are yellow and red with directional pulls to the southwest and northeast. Consider these pairings to create a strong sense of harmony in snake themes.

Cultural Considerations

Culture and audience is especially important when using snake imagery. While they are seen positively in the ancient Chinese association and as this year’s animal, snakes can be a source of fear or concern for others. Knowing how your audience might react to seeing snakes on a screen might help you decide whether to use an actual snake in your visual presentation or more of the curved, S-shaped concept.

Consider some of the classic examples of snakes in literature, movies and popular culture as examples. The snake is seen as evil and deceptive in the Bible and again as evil in Greek mythology as Medusa was cursed with snake tresses. In the story of The Jungle Book, the snake is helpful and helps a young boy learn to move with grace. In India, snakes are often seen as good luck charms. Many American movies often showcase the mysterious nature and often scary of snakes, depicting them in a way that causes fear.

Conclusion

If you plan to incorporate Year of the Snake visuals into projects, make sure to do it wisely.

Think about not only snake imagery but also S-shapes and flowy curves in design schemes. Also take into consideration the background of the Year of the Snake and its meanings. Even without designing with snake-like patterns or shapes in mind, you can create a design outline that embodies some of the same principles.

The most important philosophies behind the Year of the Snake are progress, attention to detail and focus – three things any designer can benefit from.

Carrie Cousins has more than 10 years experience in the communications industry, including writing for print and online publications, and design and editing. You can connect with her on Twitter @carriecousins and Google+.

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