Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – Yue Lin

From a personal perspective, should Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1940-1944) not only be considered as a pioneering French postal aviator and a Grand Prix du roman [Grand Prize for Fiction] winning author (Marotte and Lunt) , but also qualify as a historically significant illustrator who should have been discussed and more comprehensively studied in various graphic design textbook as the designer of several of the most culturally significant symbols of France.

To begin this study with the reasons why Saint-Exupéry was considered to have significant impacts on the development of graphic design, the worldwide cultural phenomenon of the success of Saint-Exupéry’s graphic novel Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince, 1943; Stukalova) allowed that series of “iconic”, “charmingly amateurish” (Senior) illustrations to extensively spread and impact its “dual-targeted” audiences (Magbanua) around the world since its first publication. Which contextual illustrations gradually developed to be the visualizations of the major themes and philosophical meanings of The Little Prince, they were so representative that the most influential three, the character Little Prince (Figure 1 and 2), the boa constrictor (Figure 1 and 2) and one of three sheep the pilot originally drew by the Little Prince’s request (Figure 2), were adopted by one of the leading specialists of currency design, Swiss designer Roger Pfund, as graphic elements in his design for the 50-franc banknotes (French Banknotes) employed from 1980 to 2002 (Hymans 320). Which also had significant long term economic and financial impacts on generations of people.


Figure 1 (French Banknotes)


Figure 2 (French Banknotes)

In terms of the aesthetics of his design, Saint-Exupéry deliberately adopted a unique, mutually comprehensible (Tereza Pop 96), children resembling the form of drawing (Biagioli), as his illustrations revealed a naïve (Tereza Pop 91) and surrealistic (Tereza Pop) style in which he outlined the slightly exaggerated shape with clumsy lines (Sommerfeld) using pen or pencil then painted those shaped with watercolor or crayon-watercolor (Tereza Pop 91). Those illustrations suited but also concretized (Kaniewska 172) the story, “Są one wyraźnie osadzone w fabule i nie wychodzą poza elementy w niej zawarte” (Sommerfeld), “gdyż wpisują się w konwencję tekstu, korespondują z przekazem estetycznym.” ( qtd. in Sommerfeld) Moreover, Saint-Exupéry’s illustrations were also considered to be artistically thought-provoking, as not only did researchers discover the metaphor for spatial representation (Schaeverbeke et al.) in the sheep and the box illustration (Figure 2), but the question of how drawings should be comprehended with the respect to its medium (Wilcox) Saint-Exupéry addressed in the elephant/boa constrictor illustration (Figure 1 and 2) were also re-evaluated.

Despite his previously discussed significant impacts on illustration, when a content analysis for keywords including “Antoine de Saint-Exupéry”, “Little Prince” and “children’s book” was conducted on the current version of Graphic design: A New History (Eskilson), the lack of relevant results clearly indicated that the deficiency of research on the artistic values of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and The Little Prince. In order to establish a comprehensive historical view on graphic design, it is strongly recommended to add Antoine de Saint-Exupéry as an historically significant illustrator who promoted the development of illustration as the author of some of the most culturally significant symbols of France to the latest version of graphic design textbook.




Biagioli, Nicole. “Le Dialogue Avec L’enfance Dans Le Petit Prince.” Études littéraires,

vol. 33, no. 2, 2001, pp. 27-42, Érudit,


Encyclopædia Britannica. “Antoine de Saint-Exupéry”, Encyclopædia Britannica,

inc., 28 January 2020,, accessed 2 April 2020.

Eskilson, Stephen. Graphic Design: A New History. 3rd ed., North America, Yale

University Press.

French Banknotes. “Roger Pfund”., accessed

2 April 2020.

Hymans, Jacques E. C. “International Patterns in National Identity Content: The Case

of Japanese Banknote Iconography.” Journal of East Asian Studies, vol. 5, no.

2, 2005, pp. 315–346. JSTOR, Accessed 30

Mar. 2020.

Kaniewska, Bogumiła. “O ważności obrazków, czyli ilustracja w książce dziecięcej”

Literatura w kręgu sztuki. Tematy – konteksty – medialne transformacje, edited by Seweryna Wysłouch, Beata Przymuszała (red.), Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskiego Towarzystwa Przyjaciół Nauk, 2016,pp. 155-173.

Magbanua, Fatima. “Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince: Dual-Targeted

Audience”, WL 404W: Literature and Translation, vol.3, no.8, 2018.

Marotte, Evelyne and Emma Lunt. Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry

(Book Analysis): Detailed Summary, Analysis and Reading Guide., 2016. Book Analysis.

Schaeverbeke, R. et al. “Drawing and Conceiving Space: How to Express Spatial

Experience through Drawing?” Open House International, vol. 40, no. 2, 2015, pp. 74-79,

Senior, Tim. “Bjgp Library: The Little Prince: Escaping into Childhood.” The British

journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General

Practitioners, vol. 66, no. 648, 2016, pp. 380-380, PubMed,


Sommerfeld, Beate. “Ilustracja książek dla dzieci jako źródło dylematów tłumacza –

na przykładzie dwóch niemieckich przekładów Le Petit Prince Antoine’a de

Saint-Exupéry’ego.” Investigationes Linguisticae, vol.39, no.8, 2018,

pp.98-110, DOI:10.14746/il.2018.39.8.

Stukalova, Olga. “Text and Its Interpretation in Book Illustrations (Based on the Tale

by A. Saint-Exupéry ‘The Little Prince’).” Children’s Literature Review, edited by Jonathan Vereecke, vol. 229, Gale, 2019. Gale Literature Resource Center, Accessed 29 Mar. 2020. Originally published in Once Upon a Time in the Contemporary World, edited by Elena Polyudova, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016, pp. 103-121.


THE LITTLE PRINCE”. Studia Universitatis Babes Bolyai – Historia Artium 1:87-102.

Wilcox, Glenn. “The Medium and the Thing Itself.” Journal of Architectural Education (1984-), vol. 58, no. 2, 2004, pp. 25-27,



Icon as a symbolic representation of something is meant to visually communicate with the audience in a basic knowledge ground directly (Capsule 7). Viewing the mass amount of worldwide brands, their icon design is usually famous. The measurement of a successful icon is that it referring to the brand, at the same time, easy to memorize. Capsule expresses in his book LOGOS, “a great logo does not create a great brand or organization” (8). I personally agree with Capsule deeply. Yet, reconsidering the relationship between icon design and brand; I think a good brand can create a good icon easily and they are being connected from the development of each other. Exploring three popular brands McDonald’s, Mercedes-Benz and Starbucks’s icon revolutions will be compared as cases.

(Image from web MountainMarketing by  Shane, Dec 2ed 2016)

Image result for benz icon history(Image from web 1000LOGOS by unknown author, unknow date)

Image result for starbucks iocn history(Image from web BUZZINSPIRED by editor , unknown date )

One similarity can be discovered easily after briefly look at revolution graphics, all those icons end up with being more and more graphical. I define “graphical” is less color verity, more abstraction and without types. I am not judging that being graphical is the only way to make a fantastic icon. However, it commonly should be considered as the base of a successful icon since icon should be a symbolic thing and be able to communicate with the audience.

The text messages (mainly brand name) are almost be taken off from the icon in those three brands. McDonalds’ icon became more graphical began in 1962 is completely off-text is about 60 years after the brand is found ( Vlugut 187). Mercedes-Benz’s icon started became abstract in 1909 and until today the brand name sometimes appears with the text (Vlugut 191-192 ). Starbucks icon hasn’t changed much and the off-text icon established in 2011 (Vlugut 267). This seems like there is no clear connection between brand development and icon development; those icons just be reformed during time by different designers. In fact, the time they consider become more graphical is when brands already managed businesses over the years which indicates they already become certain well-known.

Analysis of the revolutions here, they reveal the development of icon and brand are closely influences each other. The user volume increasing the group recognized the brand as well as the old version icons, then the clients’ force to produce a more memorizable icon. Therefore, the aspect of icon development and brand development are be tied together is approved in those three successful brands. It is such an interesting fact that the success of an icon is determined by user volume to some extent.


Vlugt, Ron van der. Logo Life Life Histories of 100 Famous Logos. BIS Publishers, 2012.

CAPSLUE.  Logos 01: an essential primer for todays competitive market. Rockport Publishers, 2007.

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