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“Realism in art and design is not an absolute but a convention." –Amy Arntson

Are you going to decorate, or are you going to think about and work with the principles of perception?

Memory | Experiences | Innate responses | Physiological considerations | Culture(s)

We finish uncompleted shapes (remember our "frags"?). We group similar shapes. [numbers overlaid illustration]
We see foreground and background, even though it is a two-dimensional surface. [Licht and Schatten ad]
We see, we make, we re-make structure (Foucault).
We group like things, relating them to one another. We, therefore, note the dissimilar, the one unlike all the others. [5-4]
We seek to explain (proper perspective).

[lines illustrations]

The point: Be intentional. Know why and not just what.

Design is communication. Form is content. (Read Balzac, Unknown Masterpiece)


Texture | Symmetry (or asymmetry) | Familiarity | Gravity | Size | Proximity | Continuation | Closure
[see illustrations]


Two kinds of communication in graphic design. Any guesses as to what they are?

1. Design with intellectual unity: idea-generated and word-dominated (thinking, the mind), and
2. Design with visual unity: design elements working in concert according to intent (looking, the eye)

For the latter, Young & Rubicam's "Tonnage" advertisement.

Gravity, weight, impact. We read top to bottom. The designer knows that. It often is about expectation. Far Side comics, for example. What will happen in the next second, the second you cannot see. Saigon officer shooting a North Vietnamese. It's not in the image, it's in our heads.

Ink on paper. Words and symbols. We, the readers/viewers, supply the dynamic tension intentionally prompted by the designer using tools and media to elicit a reaction or experience.

How? Suspense. Expectation. Ladder precariously leaning on a wall. Will he fall? Diver at the top of a huge cliff, arms spread. "Oh!" Both pre-suppose gravity, expectation. Top-heavy art means something likely will tip over, be crushed. There is discomfort. Turn the Young & Rubicam ad upside down. Put extra weight at the bottom if you want it to look stable, firm, secure.

Balance: vertical, horizontal lines are stable. Symmetry: diagonal connotes instability, leaning, movement:

/ \
walking down a road?

We read left to right, top to bottom. So, for example, an animal running left to right will seem to be running faster. There is no cognitive resistance. Think direction. Think depth, or the perception of depth, like the road above. Size = weight. Use contrast in sizes to communicate relationships.

Location: the center can support more weight than the edges, for example:

Other relationships:
Isolation or belongingness, categorization, grouping >> 5 over here, one all alone over there. Will be drawn to the prodigal.
Value: anything with light, for example.
Shape: a rolling O or a sharp, pointed, dangerous A? a light G or a heavy G?
Color: bright? dark? intense? fading?

Gestalt: German word for shape or configuration. How we turn parts into a meaningful, organized whole. The whole is more than the simple addition of all the parts. Each part is in relationship to the others and to the whole. The Orchard logo, for example.



Sports Illustrated Michelangelo cover: No single icon would make much sense. Look at the logos for Montblanc, Swiss Victorinox and COACH. How do they achieve Gestalt? Other examples: ALCOA logo, Karen Keeney logo.

The logos should symbolize the entire enterprise, the values, the mission, the audience and product portfolio. It will be used in many sizes, media, in b/w and in color.

>>Continuation, closure, figure and ground, dissimilarity all as tools of Gestalt. [see examples; newspaper ads]

Omniphasism: We make sense of what we see through cognition, intuition, experience and association.

Semiotics: The science of signs. Icons should resemble what they symbolize. Symbolic = learned. Remember the middle finger? Mickey D's golden arches? Semiotics explores what the signs mean to people, to society, how they are perceived. Mercedes star, for example. What does it mean? Twin towers? Nazi symbol? These all are learned.


©2008 CarrollinaWorks

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