What’s Next: Discovering the Positives of Negative Space

Our newest What’s Next article has been submitted by Philip A. Provins, [email protected]

Negative space, in art and graphic design, refers to the area around and between the subject of an image. Negative space becomes apparent when the space around a subject, and not the subject itself, forms an interesting or relevant shape. Often, negative space is used to form the “real” subject of an image.

The use of negative space is a key element of artistic composition. In a black-and-white image, a subject is usually depicted in black and the space around it is left blank (white). However, reversing the tones so that the space around the subject is printed black and the subject itself is left blank causes the negative space to be apparent as it forms shapes around the subject. This technique is called figure-ground reversal.

The use of equal negative space, as a balance to positive space, in a composition is considered good design. This basic yet frequently overlooked design principle gives the eye is known to increase the appeal of a composition through subtle means.

Here are a number of interesting and effective examples that illustrate the use of negative space in graphic design:

A.G. Low Construction logo

By Rebecca Low

(A floor plan is the hidden visual.)

Martin Newcombe Property Maintenance logo

By buddy

(A house is the hidden visual.)

Nexcite logo

By Amore

Via Blair Thomson

(A heart is the hidden visual.)

American Institute of Architects Center logo

By Pentagram

(The skyline is the hidden visual.)

Ogden Plumbing logo

By Astuteo

(The plunger is the hidden visual.)

World Wildlife Federation

By Sir Peter Scott, modified by Landor

FreemanWhite logo

By Malcolm Grear Designers

(The F hides within the W.)

The Brand Union logo

By The Brand Union

Egg n Spoon logo (same day couriers)

By Thoughtful

(See the egg and the spoon?)

Human logo

By Social UK

Eaton logo

By Lippincott

USA Network logo

By Peloton Design

CultureBus logo

By Pentagram

Carrefour logo

Original design examined by Miles Newlyn

Sinkit logo

By smashLAB

FedEx logo

By Lindon Leader while at Landor

Hands On Network logo

By Duffy & Partners

NBC logo

By Steff Geissbuhler while at Chermayeff & Geismar

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About Steven

Steven, a native of Los Angeles, is an advertising and marketing copywriter with over 20 years of writing experience in a wide range of subjects. An eBay addict, Steven has way too many hobbies and arcane interests – but it all makes good cocktail party conversation.

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