The traditional work of writing icons is based on old rules according to which only canonized saints and texts with a Biblical or liturgical basis may be used as the motif. Therefore, some aspects of any given icon are already prescribed. Within these regulations, however, it is quite possible to add a personal touch to any particular icon (see examples right).
Devotion in Orthodox families has been instrumental in developing this individual touch especially in relationship to the patron saints of family members. The idea that our patron saint accompanies us throughout our lives is brought to life when, for example, an icon is made for the baptism of a child and then hung in a "holy corner" of the room; carried in the procession during the person's wedding and eventually laid on the coffin during his or her requiem.