Why Negative Space Is Important in Design


Did you cringe a little bit before you clicked in? Don't leave just yet. I'm not about to get serious on ya! I'm talking about negative SPACE in art and design.

What is negative space?

The definition of negative space, is simply the space that surrounds an object in an image. Here are a few examples below. 

The negative space in this image is all of the marble texture surrounding the logo. 

The negative space in this flat lay is the surface surrounding the notebook and planner. 

The negative space here is the snow around and between the skies.

Why is negative space so important? 

As said best by photographymad.com, "Negative space defines and emphasizes the main subject of a photo, drawing your eye to it. It provides "breathing room", giving your eyes somewhere to rest and preventing your image from appearing too cluttered with "stuff. When used properly, negative space provides a natural balance against the positive space in a scene. All of this adds up to a more engaging composition."

Oftentimes when creating graphics, shooting photos, posting to social media, etc. our natural desire is to make everything BIGGER, wanting to ensure everyone gets the important details. We feel that if the space is there, why not utilize it right?

In reality, the space around your object, is just as important is the object itself.

Filling the full space can actually do more harm than good because instead of the important thing capturing someone's attention, it actually clutters it, causing a quick loss of interest all together.  

Your job is to guide the user through your graphic or image. With the proper use of negative space, you are telling the viewer what is most important without saying a word.

Here are some examples below.

Which graphics are you more drawn to?


Lots of negative space. We can see all of the elements of the logo in its full context. 

The full logo has fit into the frame. None of the elements have been cut off, but do you find it harder to know what to focus on?


Great fonts were used, and all of the information is visible. But do you find it crowded and hard to know which parts of this event are most important? 

Same great fonts, but with space. We immediately know it's a grand opening. Now, we can then focus on the details down below. Even the fonts hear have been opened up, allowing space for the words to "breath".


I invite you today to allow for more negative space- to SHRINK, BACK UP, AND ELIMINATE. 

Shrink: When creating your next graphic, shrink all of your text and graphics. Try pulling it down to half its original size. If it becomes illegible, of course, enlarge it, but go small!

Back up: When taking your next photo, back up and show more of the background. You can always crop later if needed, but the subject of the photo plenty of space surrounding it.

Eliminate: Next time you are styling a flat lay photo for instagram, eliminate one thing in the photo. Balance all of the objects to allow for negative space in between or around the objects.

I'd love to see your instagram posts using negative space! Tag me @emilywellsdesign!

BusinessEmily Wells