Ellen is a Designer and Brand Strategist. In addition to creating fantastic signage for retail outlets and events, she develops creative social media strategies and posts for some of our largest clients. We love her.

I have a passion for simple design. Creating a beautiful and streamlined graphic that is easy to digest, easy to look at and easy to read is my favorite puzzle to solve. In an effort to create something visually interesting, it can be tempting to jam colors and graphics on a design, filling all the corners and leaving no designable space untouched. It is far more challenging, however, to utilize (the somewhat terrifying) negative space.

Negative space in a design can be compared to the silence that comedians use during a joke. It’s the silence, the anticipation, that makes the joke work. In the silence your brain starts to work to predict what will be said next, and this anticipation is what makes the gift of the punch line so great. The same can be said for negative space in a design. It’s not always what’s on the page that makes a design work. It’s utilizing space to draw the eye towards your message instead of distracting from it. It’s in the negative space that people can fill in their own interpretations, making the design approachable.

Take, for example, the FexEx logo: simple, easy to read, easy to understand. The gift is not in the colors or the font – the gift is in the arrow created between the E and x – the negative space. The gift is in the space where your brain has to do a little work to complete the picture. It’s this space that I challenge myself to create. It’s in this space that some of the most interesting designs can live.