In our own physical world, we see the results of what gravity can do. We feel the affects of it. If we are to believe Newton’s assessment that it’s a simple force of attraction of masses or Einstein’s model of a warping of spacetime, its still one of the greatest mysteries of science. We can measure it, quantify it, yet we still don’t know what it truly is.

Designers often are asked about the nature of their creativity. We should think of our creativity the same as we accept gravity. We can demonstrate it and analyze it, but we don’t know what it truly is. We should accept that its a force of attraction–we can utilize our creativity to attract our target audience to interface with our creations. We can also understand that our creativity is a warping of spacetime–our creations can take control of our target audience’s reactions and those reactions control our creations.

There are many mysteries within our physical world. Our creativity is the same. Undefined and yet we feel the strength of it every day of our lives. We are attracted to great design and its because of that attraction that it interacts with us and we interact with it. Next time you enjoy great design, think of the mystery of its origins.



Often when critiquing design work, both professionally and academically, we have an intuitive notion of whether it visually works or not. This initial gut reaction is what any Star Wars fan calls “The Force”. In the Star Wars movies, the force is this invisible energy that surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds all things. This force is referenced in almost all cultures and civiliations.

I often think of “the Force” when I ponder visual design communication. Visual communication can only happen when there’s something to be viewed, a viewer, and a medium that conveys the two. This communication carries with it conveyances (packets of information). Any component and its arrangement (composition) carries meaning that is interpreted by the viewer. When both components and composition of the viewed resonate harmoniously with the viewer, the work is successful. The opposite is also true. If both components and composition don’t resonate with the viewer, the piece doesn’t work and a harsh reaction occurs. Like The Force, there’s no meaning until it reaches the viewer.

The Force (communication conveyances) can be manipulated by designers. Composition, in particular is a strong way to deal with this force. It’s a quick and easy way to create harmony or disharmony. So, composition is one of the first things I deal with when teaching new design students. When we can manipulate this strong aspect of design on many levels, we can control the viewer—a magical aspect of design. The power of arranging things is documented in the study of Feng Shui.

Often beginning designers don’t realize the power that can be harnessed with composition. And, I know which students have it and those that don’t. I guess that makes me a “Yoda” in the design world. Hmmm… I’ll take that.