Participated in a Figure Drawing Class the other day and was intrigued by the concept of ‘negative space’. I’m sure anyone, from a graphic artist and portrait painter to a photographer, landscape artist, interior designer or website designer understands the concept of negative space.
According to Wikipedia negative space, in art, is the space around and between the subject(s) of an image.
One of the most famous uses of negative space is Rubin’s vase. It creates an optical illusion. Is it a vase or is it a silhouette of two people facing each other?
There are many famous logos that use the concept of negative space. A good selection can be reviewed in an article called The art of negative space: 20 amazing examples.
And then there are the not so obvious uses of negative space. Take the below illustration by Roc Goudreau. Roc uses negative space to perfectly scale and proportion every feature. Observe the space between each individual finger, the space between the eyes –between the nose and mouth – the use of space is one of the most important dynamics to which you must pay attention. The relationship of the space will be your teacher and friend.
So to me negative space is looking past the direct object to what is around it. In using what is around it, how can I enhance the object or objective I am seeking to create? If I don’t see beyond my focus – I lose.
To me, a marketer, someone who works in the world of SEO, SEM and research, it was an eye opener. Now I find myself staring at an object and looking at the negative space around it that makes that object stand out – I’m not just seeing a face but what makes the face unique.
And then a bell goes off in my head (DING DING DING DING > bell sound!) WOW I liken this concept to what I do daily without consciously realizing that is what I was doing.
One cannot thoroughly research a company – and create a plan for any project be it a new brand, website, SEO or SEM without looking at the negative space surrounding your client. Concentrating solely on your client’s business only provides part of the picture. You need to dig deep – ask and answer imperative questions. Who are their competitors and what are they doing? What makes them successful? Or – why are they unsuccessful? You see part of the ‘negative space’ in this instance is the competition. Knowing information about the competition will help to create and implement a solid plan.
So open your eyes and take in the negative space around you!