Poof! Is it gone?

Composition, Color Theory, Emphasis and Polish would be important for all of us to take into consideration, right? What about Contrast and Hue, Value and Visual Weight? These are fundamental principles, right? I use them every day.

Mostly, I am thinking about the basics of design, when I am creating artwork for tee shirts and other apparel. I don’t always just use them then, however. Holding my cell phone up to click a picture, I innately and almost unthinkingly square up the image or make a visually interesting angle, and drop the subjects somewhere close to the rule-of-thirds, while filling the frame.

If I have a simple picture, that I want to add some text to, and post it online for an ad for our restaurant, I use all the same building blocks of solid design there too.

I cannot create anything, even down to a grocery list, without wanting to make it visually appealing.

This is something I learned to do, long ago, and has become second nature to me.

Back in 2010, I was driving thousands of miles across the wide open western part of the country. I had a cheapie little digital camera, and I took tons of photos. On that trip, I created a blog post per day. I uploaded a bunch of pictures and people complimented them. I didn’t show them all the crappy pictures I took, just the best of what I had done. Because I knew the importance of an artistic eye, my simple camera was able to capture some really nice shots.

It’s hard for me, not to notice that most of the general population has been shown, much advanced design theory. I can scroll through facebook and see thousands of poorly pointed photographs. They may even be decent pics, but they need a waaay tighter crop. Of the millions of images posted online, there are few that demand your eye to study them. Sure, we look at a lot of pictures, but few make an impression on our soul itself.

Once learned, these principals become part of the person themselves. I can’t imagine that many artists can just browse a website or magazine or family photo album without noticing the successful compositions versus the awkwardly arranged snapshot.

And even if you haven’t had any formal training in design, you too can ‘feel’ the power of an image, or its lack thereof.

See, these ‘rules’ of design, aren’t just someone’s current hot opinion. Someone may attempt to be rebellious and flip some of the standards on their heads from time to time, and even succeed. But in reality, the human spirit is moved and excited and gripped by, great artwork.

Once you learn the differences, it can’t be unlearned. I cannot ever now, be unaware of a poorly kerned title, or cliché font combinations. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know the principals of good design at all, since so much bad exists in our world.

In the same way a highly trained chef, may lose the enjoyment of a simple greasy paper bag of drive-thru fast food. His taste buds have experienced another level of balance, quality and refinement of flavors. The blast of sodium and over-processed meat patty could be almost painful to partake of.

Be careful about what you learn. In the movie The Matrix, Morpheus offers Neo a choice between two pills. One would wake him up to the greater truths of the ‘real’ world, the other a memory eraser.

There are things I wish I didn’t know sometimes. Asking Jesus into my heart, only changed everything about the way the world looks to me now. It is sometimes harder to see things in our broken world, knowing His love and presence is available, but not wanted by all.

Some knowledge can burden the mind as much as it frees it. I know that I would never want to release the reality of God’s love that I’ve been blessed with. I do sometimes miss my pre-born-again, infantile moments. Back then, I thought I’d mastered the point of life: Just to party and plow through, only working for the perpetual weekend, away from it all… If we could just be rich and relax on a beach with a beer… forever… That would’ve been Heaven!

Now, I’m not so absolutely sure.

Anyway, there are real principals that guide and direct the universe. They were designed by God. Working with them, we create great art, great food, great lives and afterlives. Against them, all our creations are like fine flash-powder, gone in a loud poof, leaving behind nothing but a faint scorch.

Until next week my friends, be well. Notice and be proud of the chance you have to create greatness for yourself, on whatever scale, or to benefit whoever may be blessed by your work.

God Bless!


Aaron Nichols




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