Why Your Design Needs Negative Space

Notice the arrow?

Notice the arrow?

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Lewis Sellers, founder of the web design agency Pinpoint Designs.

It’s what you can’t see that counts, well in the case of negative space; it’s being able to see what’s not there that counts.
The power of negative space in art and also in design is extremely powerful and can really be used to the advantage when creating web pages, brochures, logos and anything else you can think of.

Negative space essentially defines positive space; however it can still be used to as much or more of an effect visually than positive space and the inverse can really create impact. One of the other great things about wise use of negative design is that it also allows for a double meaning.

It’s Simple

Negative design is not about complexity, in fact, it’s about the complete opposite. This sort of design relies on being easy to see and leaping out. In fact, it should be as easy to see as the positive equivalent. The biggest mistake people make when designing something with negative design in mind is creating designs that are too intricate and too hard to see. This means they will not be seen by consumers and so is a wasted opportunity.

The finest piece of negative design we can think of off-hand is American mail company FedEx’s brilliant arrow design. This is a highly effective piece of design and has been achieved by keeping things very simple and limiting any sort of intricacy.

Colour and Tone

Even though a large number of negative designs are in black and white, this does not mean they only work well in black and white. Black and white is popular as it is the greatest of contrasts; however colour also can feature very prominently in negative design. So, be sure to consider colours when deciding on creating a negative design.


Much negative design is extremely simple and involves simply bolding up a word within a word in the company’s name. This is a simply visual ploy and allows the business to showcase a word that they feel is apt to their business and creates a message, whether a website design or logo.

Negative design is a great idea; however it should not be done for its own sake, but as part of something greater. Negative design should add some value to the business. For instance think of the FedEx arrow, or the ‘1’ inside the Formula 1 logo. Both of these add to the overall feeling of the business.


Of course, the logo is aimed at your audience and it should fit in with what they expect. Elegant negative design logos are suitable for some, but not everyone. In the same way cartoon like negative design may only be ideal for children. Lesson – remember your audience when creating this form of design.

Overall, negative design can really add a lot to your branding and can really have a positive impact on your business and people’s perception of it.

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