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.




I’m starting to resent what recycling has become. We’ve created a world of scavengers that are literally waiting at the gates of your castle to ravage your garbage. For those little bits of precious recyclable metal, we’ve created monsters that will destroy structures for the chance to turn in anything for a recycling reward.

For those familiar with the Star Wars franchise of movies, I equate these scavengers with the so-called Jawa of the planet, Tatooine — bizarre creatures that make a living off of the world’s detritus.

The role of the garbage man is changing. Our call to arms for recycling to save the planet has its dark side now. I propose that recycling should no longer be required and we throw everything away. No more sorting and no more extra containers for paper, metals, and plastic. Throw it all away I say and let our refuse engineers hire said people to sort through the rubbish.