Headshot Placeholders

Sometimes I'm struck by how many icons we work with naturally and daily online. Take what might be called the "headshot placeholder icon, a way of indicating that there is room for a headshot and that said headshot hasn't been uploaded yet.

Such headshot icons range from signifying "upload your weeble-like headshot" to "upload your Tom Selleck headshot," but it only takes a glance to know what is being expressed by the icon. In part, I think, the message is conveyed by the vacancy of gray in some of the images, the anonymous facelessness in all of them, and in the most obvious samples the overwritten "Photo Coming Soon!" text.

We've come to be quite icon literate, I guess: your cart icons (), shortcut icons (), and even silly ones like and .

The shortcut icon is as close as we've come to reanimating cartouche culture, whereas the little doo-dad icons (Photo coming soon!) seem more about conveying a commonplace through a vernacular visual vocabulary that has plenty of elasticity built into it.


  1. I am behind on reading your blog! I have no idea what a shortcut icon is. Does this mean I am illiterate?

  2. Dear bp:

    You are hopelessl behind and uninformed. In fact, since you don't know what a shortcut icon I am forced to give you this quiz worth 100% of your grade:

    A shortcut icon is:

    a) an icon signifying a sneaky route that makes the distance between points a and b shorter and, thus, less time consuming to travel
    b) not an icon at all but a dish made with tomatoes
    c) the little icon that shows up in your browser (up up up top) next to the url you've decided to peruse. In your case, that would be http://hellokitty.com

  3. um, "b". also, i am really more of a san-x fan.