Positive space is where shapes and forms exist; negative space is the empty space around shapes and forms Areas of a picture or art work that contain “nothing” are important visual elements that provide balance in an image.
Nowadays simplicity and clean looking design is the new trend. We tend to have enough stress and chaos in our everyday life, so we are naturally more attracted to pieces that can “breathe”.
Having the negative space gives the viewer an uninterrupted focus on the message you are trying to convey.
In most cases less is more, like posters. Compare these posters and notice how the negative (empty) space which does not have images or text helps you focus on the main point the artist is trying to make. In some designs, so much is going on that the viewer doesn’t have a specific direction or point to focus on. The eye may wander on irrelevant elements instead of the important text or images; in that case the designer did not do a successful job.
What you will notice more in your everyday life is business card designs. It’s important to make your business card stand out, but keep it clean not chaotic. Some people want to put a family photo, all their social media information, a picture of their dog, and 3 addresses, older people would like their fonts to be in 13 point so they wouldn’t have to use their glasses… NO, just NO. Remember negative space is your buddy. Use it wisely; not like these realtors who want to fit a A4 page of info on a 3.5”x2” format. Please remember to leave breather space between your content and edges.
Notice how powerful logos and words can be by vitalizing negative space. The FedEx logo has an embedded arrow between E and X which upgraded the logo from vanilla to super double double fudge.
I know you will disagree about negative space if you work in a direct mail company! Let’s all be friends J just because you are paying for the print does not mean you need to smother the page with elements.
So next time you are flipping through a magazine you will embrace the powerful layouts that have utilized negative space and turned it into a positive tool to please your eyes.