Jaxon Polland illustrates Cobb Semiotic Standard.



Jaxon Polland has undertaken one of the most extensive illustrations of Ron Cobb’s “Semiotic Standard” you will find online these days.

His inspiration, formally entitled “Semiotic Standard For All Commercial Trans-Stellar Utility Lifter And Heavy Element Transport Spacecraft,” is the set of 34 graphic elements Cobb created for use in ALIEN.


Cobb’s title itself inspires a thousand exciting ideas about the universe of the Nostromo.


On page 60 of Cobb’s art book Colorvision, he wrote that the graphics were intended to be “a system of symbols used throughout the Nostromo to give it a standardized, multi-lingual, industrial look.”

He certainly achieved that goal.

Here they are, linked from Ron Cobb’s ALIEN art pages, this one is entitled, “Nostromo semiotic icons.”




Polland is a self-admitted admirer of this specific piece of Cobb’s concept art, and it led him to think deeply about it. In his own words, the art is

More than just a trivial object/concept produced for a movie (and destined to be “consumed” — “lost”/”buried” in the scenes’ background — and done with, once the film was finished), it resulted, instead, in a notable exercise in design, simplicity, consistency, expressiveness, coherence, ingenuity and meaning, all of it “lending” it a life beyond. It, surely, merits/warrants a closer inspection in some (all?) of these domains. Case study material.


And now that you have seen the originals, I think you will appreciate the care with which Pollard executed his project, “Pixel Semiotic Standard.”


Jaxon Polland’s rendition of the Cobb originals.


Not only did Polland recreate the originals, he took Cobb’s color-coded key and grouped icons together by color:


Cobb color-coded his icons: red, white, grey, black, yellow, blue, and green all had special meaning.


Polland’s ‘Reds’


Polland’s ‘Blues’


Polland’s ‘Blacks’


Polland’s ‘Whites-Greys’


Polland’s ‘Yellows’


Polland’s ‘Greens’


I hope this brief glimpse has whetted your appetite for more details about the project, which can be found at Polland’s 2afutureme web site.

And if you leave a comment, let him know The Nostromo Files sent you.

In the meantime, I think I will go explore the Green icons…whether you go with Cobb or Polland, that seems to be where they keep the coffee!






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