A Thing of Beauty

We’ve been able to judge the economy of the last few years just by looking at the billboards around town. For a while there, they were pretty bad – a dated event left up for months after it had come and gone or sometimes billboards were just left blank. Things are feeling better now, the sky in my neighborhood has a lot more noise.

It is really making me miss those Stella Artois billboards from last Spring (pictured). The dapper couple had a classic 60s feel about them. And the amount of white space used was an oasis among the Clamato and beer billboards that are usually littering my skyline. Really just three graphic elements relaxing in a pool of white, (couple, logo, tagline). You may argue that the woman is being objectified. The Billboard Liberation Front certainly did, but I thought of it as a play on the sexist stereotype we expect from beer ads. I may have chose to think the best of it because that white space is just so gorgeous. I loved having a daily reminder of just how important negative space truly is. I’m glad to see that they have carried this through other advertising opportunities.

Negative space shouldn’t be thought of as just “blank” space. It is an element of design which creates the stage on which all other graphics can exist, the balance between positive (or non-white) and the use of negative space is a part of good composition.

Because advertisements in magazines, newspapers, etc. cost the space they take up, it seems a logical jump for most clients to get their money’s worth by using up as much space as possible with words and images that convey their product’s message. In truth a page packed full of text or graphics with little white space will appear busy and cluttered, and may be unreadable. A graphic element surrounded by negative space is much more likely to get noticed and is therefore a powerful message.

Stella Artois is doing nothing new, but they are doing it extremely well.


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