Optimum is defined as the level where something is the most conducive to a favorable outcome. We are always searching and striving for the optimum level of whatever it is we are into at the time. We often associate this concept with athletics. They are the epitome of optimum and we see the results manifest themselves with being bigger, faster, stronger, etc… Find any sports highlight video snippet and you can see optimum at its finest.

We shouldn’t forget that optimum applies to all aspects of our lives as well. There is always an optimum value of all things. Keep in mind though that there is a drawback to optimum levels. Above that level, it becomes toxic and below that level it is deprived. Like calcium, water, or oxygen, there is an optimum quantity that each of us needs. Beyond that it is toxic and poisonous for us. Below that our bodies become deficient, which is just as bad.

Creativity is also subject to this natural law. I’m always striving to understand my own optimum levels of creativity. I used to think there can never be too much creativity. And, yet, I see the results of toxic levels of creativity–no common sense, overly stylized things, madness and obsession, etc… Also, on the deficient end of creativity–no spark of life, fear of trying new things, status quo, etc…

Being creative is an energy that we struggle to maintain our optimum levels with. Recognize your own levels. If you’re deficient, get inspired (recharge). If you’re toxic, then calm your mind (discharge). Stay creative at your most optimum levels and you’ll be surprised with the results.


Energy and Balance


Often when we design, we seek to manipulate energy and flow. This is achieved by an understanding of how to take control of the user’s eye movements. By skillfully using visual hierarchy, we bring the viewer in with a first read. Once a designer has you in the composition, they will then send you to the second read and on to the third read, etc.. Finally, there’s a call to action.

This flow in visual hierarchy can only happen if there’s a uneven distribution of visual weight. Like the physical world, an uneven distribution creates energy. Think of temperature — energy flows from hot to cold until a balance happens. As designers we purposefully manipulate this visual energy until a balance is achieved — resolution in the mind of the viewer.

As graphic designers, if we can embrace the natural order of the universe by manipulating a viewer’s curious energy and finally providing balance, visual solutions will be more successful. Balance and order is the end result of all things. As humans, we seek resolution. As designers we can take advantage of this natural human quality.