What is Pareidolia?

Pareidolia is defined as:

“The imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist.” – (2015)

A good example of Pareidolia is when we imagine that we can see human faces in everyday objects, such as this happy coffee mug:


or this terrified egg poacher:


Pareidolia can be any object though, not just a human face. It is whenever we see a familiar object in something that isn’t that object, such as this Lion cub cloud:


Pareidolia in Creativity

It is a possible to use pareidolia as part of the idea generation and experimentation stages of the creative process. One way of using it, is to use a thick pen like a highlighter, to draw randomly shaped lines on a page, and then pick out where you see props, vehicles, and characters. You will not see items in every single squiggle you see, just as not every coffee mug has a smiley face on it, but it can help us to visualise ideas and shapes that we had not considered.

Here are a few pareidolia exercises that I have done:


As you can see, of all of these squiggles ,I have only sketched on a few of them. As my skill as an artist increases, I will revisit this exercise, to see if I can find objects in any more of the squiggles on the paper.


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