Saturday, April 10, 2010


Sometimes the things you do not create are more powerful than the ones you do. Negative Space or “White Space” has been used artistically by designers and artists in all fields from photography to graphics designing. Today I am going to illuminate the topic of White space/negative space in logo designs, which is not just white space but a lot more than that. Before we move further, I need you to take a look at this logo real carefully:

What do you see? Nothing? …Look again, this time more cautiously…Do you see a dove in the middle of the image? Do you see that the brown cloud type design is actually a tree? And, do you see the white space in the middle which represents a dove image also depicts the face of a woman? Well if you could see these things in this image or not, there are these three elements of a bird, a face and a tree. This is what negative space (or white space) in graphics designing is all about!

Let’s understand the Negative space with this definition from Wikipedia:

The space around and between the subject(s) of an image is negative space. Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject, and not the subject itself, forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space is occasionally used to artistic effect as the “real” subject of an image. The use of negative space is a key element of artistic composition.
The biggest and most crystallized example of negative spacing in a logo can be explained by the FedEx logo, Take a look:

Could you see the negative space in the logo? Actually it’s an arrow sign which is in between the E and X. if you carefully look at the logo you can find it. If still can’t, here I am filling up a color to help you see it:

In its May 15, 2003 35th Anniversary “American Icon” issue, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked FedEx as one of the 8 best logos of the past thirty-five years. Alongside Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike, IBM, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Playboy

According to FedEx spokesman Jess Bunn:

“The arrow was indeed intentional as a secondary design element…”

“If the viewer sees it, it’s a neat, interesting visual bonus. If the viewer doesn’t see it, that’s OK. It’s still a powerful logo. The arrow is intended to communicate movement, speed and the dynamic nature of our company.”

Another most famous example of negative space is the Rubin’s Vase shown below. It features an optical illusion that can be perceived as a vase or two faces with a clever use of negative space:

Here’s how this illusion came into formation:

Now, I am going to show you some logos with their descriptions but you must try to figure out their “white space” messages before you read their descriptions. Here we go:

FORMULA ONE LOGO: The designer creatively came up with the number “1” in between the F and the red spikes to portray “F1” speedy theme, great piece of work

 Yoga Australia by Roy Smith: A wonderful illustration that lets the Australian map in, in to the logo (look in the negative space inside where the girl is holding her leg)

Gun Crime consequences: It’s an image that shows the violence results. First thing is apparently a gun but the other is tricky. That’s a dead man bleeding from mouth which is inside the gun trigger area. From Noma bar’s book “Negative space”

The Big Squeeze: Art piece for an article on the American oil gains to be made from Iraq

There are a huge number of logos that contain negative spaces to depict secret messages, but can’t be covered in just one article. However, I tried to explain the “Negative space” in logos in the easiest way I could. I hope, after reading this article now you can make out the difference between the normal logos and the concealed logos, which was my intention to tell you.

Please leave a comment if you like this article and want me to come up with more logos that somehow have something unusual.


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