OPINION: The art of symbolism: Finding meaning in normality

Nolan Hovell


Symbolism: there’s no doubt it plays a prevalent role in our day-to-day lives. From the literature we read to the schools, institutions and ideologies we represent, we are all connected through symbolism.

We’ve all heard someone claim a particular spirit animal, but let’s look at what this really means. A spirit animal revolves around a belief that a certain animal will either choose you or be chosen by you so you may learn something from it or embody its skills or virtues.

The term is grossly overused and misused; however, this can be seen as an opportunity for each individual to find an animal or symbol that is true to their nature and identify with that.

Everyone can use symbolism to connect different aspects of their life in order to give additional sentimental meaning to everyday objects.

One method of applying symbolism to your life is getting a tattoo. In the last decade tattoos, commonly a symbol associated with sailors, bikers or rebels have become more integrated into the general population.

Historically speaking, humans have been tattooing pictures and symbols on each other for thousands of years. Maybe, on a more spiritual level, they understood the power of permanence to give a person’s physical being an added dimension.

What is it about tattoos that is so increasingly appealing? The sketches laid by the artist on the skin before applying the needle are considerably less impressive than the tattoos themselves.

The depictions and inscriptions will only vanish in death. It is the mortality of the canvas that makes the ink an element of the soul. In some cases friends or family receive matching or connecting tattoos to symbolize their unity or bond.

Another more common way that people identify with the symbols that relate to them is through their apparel. Shirts depicting artists and bands and school mascots are owned by most everyone. A strong sense of unity arises from recognizing the emblem on someone’s class ring that’s the same as your own.

Seeing someone wearing the shirt of an artist who you listen to heavily can be a humanizing moment. It is in that instance that we forget the things that make us different and realize that person is, in some degree, like me, or thinks or feels the way I do.

Symbolism allows additional meanings and context to be added to situations and surfaces. If you have a favorite character from a show or any certain animal or object that you’ve always held as special to you, find a way to make it part of your day.

You’ll find that people will take notice and even ask, “What does your tattoo mean?” or “What band is that on your shirt?” Taking opportunities to speak about something which you are passionate or care about makes you more appealing to just about everyone.