Ambiguity of Positive and Negative Space

positive and negtaive spcae

Piano forest by Jason Cho is a beautiful example of the use of positive and negative space in an ambiguous way. The trees in the center of the piece mimic the black keys on a piano. When looking at the picture a person can’t help but go between the image as two different ides, piano keys and trees in the forest. Even though the coloring might be simples, the simplicity really captures the concept of piano forest perfectly.


Ambiguity of Positive and Negative Space


In this blog assignment, I did some research and found an artist by the name of Tang Yau Hoong; a Malaysian illustrator and designer.  Hoong focuses on the design concept of using positive and negative spaces to create conceptual, fun designs that are either satirical, political, or anything in between.  His work may be simple yet very surreal and makes the viewer think about what exactly they are looking at, like a puzzle or an illusion.

The work I have selected is a satirical take on America’s obsession with fast food and the direct correlation to our extreme obesity problem.  1 of every 5 people who die in the US die of obesity related issues.  McDonald’s, the biggest fast food company in the world by far, has a very recognizable logo which depicts an “M”, or golden arches.  Within the golden arches, two obese people take up the negative black space where the inside of the M usually is.  The background is black while the M is yellow-orange, making the contrast between negative and positive space very visible.  Also, the burgers that the obese people are holding are yellow-orange, matching the rest of the golden arch but contrasts from their actual bodies, which I thought was a very clever design move.

Ambiguity of Positive and Negative Space

One of the most known logos worldwide is Apple. This logo is a prime example of use of both negative and positive space. Apple has taken a simple fruit and turned it into an elegant, recognizable design. The “bite” out of the apple draws your eye to the design and creates an interesting contrast of both positive and negative space using black and white.

Positive & Negative Space

shutterstock_284489381Originally known as Federal Express only, FedEx was first started in 1971 and only started off as a small delivery company. Today we know FedEx to be one of the top delivery companies in the world. FedEx has grown into the powerhouse delivery system totaling in millions of deliveries year round. The FedEx logo, created by designer Lindon Leader, is bright and easily recognizable that makes people anticipate their deliveries However, our eyes can almost overlook the unique way the words play and utilize positive and negative space. The words not only say FedEx, but the E and X together form an arrow. This arrow is a form of marketing to promote the companies speed and precision in an almost subliminal sense.

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A well known brand name, the FedEx logo is common place to anyone. Ranking as one of the eight best logos in the last thirty five years, the design is very straightforward and simplistic. As any great logo, the arrow perched between the E and X offers a minimal and effective concept of the brand to viewer. Designed by Lindon Leader, it remains a strong and universally known image.

Ambiguity of Positive and Negative Space


This panda logo is from the site. WWF means World Wide Fund for Nature and they have a great example for the use of positive and negative space in their logo. This is a very simple example of negative and positive space. Whereas the white areas is the positive space and the black is the negative space. The designers did a good job taking the basic qualities of a panda and figuring out the spaces in between and around to make the image if the animal to make their logo.

The Mobil sign

The mobil gas station logo is one of the most iconic logos we see around today. The sign is very balanced with using its negative space and positive space. They use a white background  creating lost of balanced space with the writing centered. The typogarphy used keeps it at a good balance of thickness. The blue writing, with the O as the color red makes a seperation between the two colors that creates a nice pattern. This design was made by the New York graphic design firm  Chermayeff & Geismar in 1963 and it is the same design used today.