I've seen a lot of them. I pay good attention. They can say a lot about the person, you know. Political opinions, comics they read, things they've seen, what the look like, how they feel, what there inerests are, and more. What makes... a good LiveJournal icon?
I think, if it was something that one could understand, kinkyturtle would seem to understand it. I think kbhoyt has made a few clever ones. Do I need to know how to draw to do the best ones? Perhaps, it is an ability one is born with: in innate understanding of how to cram the most identity into the smallest space without losing coherency. Maybe it is magic. More realistically, it's just a combination of an epiphany ("ah-ha!") and familiarity with the hardware and software involved. But can that really make... a good icon?
What makes... a good LiveJournal avatar?