As promised, here’s more from our author, illustrator, and artist, Jenna Stewart, on Principles and Elements of Design. In case you missed her earlier post, for further reading and more about Jenna here is a direct link, Art Tells a Story.
Principles and Elements of Design
Whether selecting an image or hiring an artist, look at the principles and elements of design each convey. There are many, and it would take forever to go through them all, but the main ones to pay attention to are line, colour, texture, balance, emphasis, movement, and unity.
- Are the lines rigid or flowing, bold or simple?
Rigid and geometric lines reflect cityscapes and an industrial identity; where flowing, fluid lines are organic, reflecting nature and movement.
- What mood do the colours convey?
Pastel peach, pink, and coral colours often reflect more feminine qualities. Different tones and hues of blue remind people of water or sky, which can evoke feelings of floating, calmness, and openness. Greens and browns are earthy and often bring the viewer closer to nature. Bold colours of red can be powerful but also angry. Yellow is happy and excited. Purple hues almost always have a sense of royalty, as if naturally regal.
- Does your choice of art or imagery include textures?
When you look at the imagery can you see a variety of textures that you know would feel different to the touch? Textures can significantly change the look of an image. Texture often reflects raw materials, makers, and builders of things.
- Is there balance in the imagery? And if there isn’t, is it purposeful?
Balance can be created or not created in a number of ways. I’d say the most obvious ways would be by using colour and space. Is there a lot of negative or unused space in the image and, if there is, is there a reason for it? Is the colour spaced well throughout the image or focused to one area? Balanced images can create a sense of purpose and organization, however, unbalanced images are often far more interesting to look at. Just make sure that whatever it is, it makes sense in relation to your message and content.
- Is there one thing in the image that deserves emphasis?
You can create emphasis either by off-centering something of importance or using bolder colours, contrasts, or lines in that spot. Once again, make sure that whatever it is you are drawing emphasis to directly reflects your message, and is purposeful.
- Does your eye move around the image creating movement?
When you look at the artwork, what do you notice first, and what do you notice last? Has your eye been carried around the whole image between that first thing and last thing, or was something missing? Did your eye float off the page somewhere? Was the last thing you looked at going to bring the viewer back to the topic at hand and want to continue reading?
- Is there Unity?
Basically, do all the above principles and elements of design work together in your chosen image? Are they representing your message? Does everything tie together nicely?
I encourage you to really look at the art and imagery from your audience’s perspective. At the same time, remember that art is subjective.
The examples I have shared above are based on my own knowledge and experiences, as well as the thousands of art critiques I participated in during my university career. All of these things help me create an interpretation of an image or a piece of art, and everyone brings a little something different to their own interpretation whether they are doing it consciously or unconsciously.
Being able to read a piece of art somewhat analytically will allow you to have a small glimpse into how some of your viewers may be interpreting your message through the choice of imagery you use. Consider the opinions of your trusted inner circle and professional team as well, to make sure you are on track.
And most importantly, enjoy every bit of the creative process, the art, imagery, and words, as your precious work comes to life!
Be sure to visit the I C Bookstore and check out Jenna’s first book, as well as other I C Publishing titles she has contributed her talent to; and explore more of her beautiful artwork on her website.
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