Negative space: 18 brilliant examples

11. The Birds

negative space art

Troy DeShano was inspired by one of Hitchcock's greatest movies

Michigan-based artist Troy DeShano has created tons of negative space art but it's this creation, based on Hitchcock's 'The Birds', that caught our eye. We love the way the figure's hair has been integrated with the silhouettes of flying birds.

12. FedEx 

The FedEx logo is a classic use of negative space

This list wouldn't be complete without perhaps the most famous use of negative space in a logo. The white arrow between the E and the X, once seen is never forgotten. The logo has won ample design awards and is constantly featured in 'best logos' lists. The logo was originally designed by Lindon Leader in 1994. Read our interview with Leader about the design in our 10 best logos ever article.

13. Letters

Clever use of negative space to have the maximum impact (not literally)

We're used to seeing highly creative and quality work come from worldwide ad agency Leo Burnett, and this brilliantly clever campaign for Fiat is a particular highlight. Created by the Brazil studio, the series of ads encourages drivers not to text while driving.

A series of three prints, a large white letter R, N, and F are accompanied by a graphic of a little girl, dog, and bus respectively, each illustration creating the defining shape of each letterform. The taglines state: 'You either see the letter or the dog (bus, little girl). Don’t text and drive.'

This is a fantastic example of how clever use of negative space can make a big impact. The stark contrast between black and white creates beautiful silhouettes of the girl, dog and bus hidden within the type. An innovative idea that really drives home the dangers of texting while driving.

14. The Typefaces

art of negative space

Negative space gives this type a face

The Typefaces is a book from Singapore-based designer and illustrator Scott Lambert, which aims to celebrate playful products for kids and kids-at-heart. "Inspired by letterpress printing and childlike observations, The Typefaces are simply faces in type," Lambert explains. Negative space allows Lambert to give each letter a friendly face.

15. The Body Artist

Negative space

One of many Don Delillo book cover designs by Noma Bar

Award-winning graphic designer Noma Bar's animation work has already featured in this list, but his still work is equally impressive. Using a limited colour palette, Bar carefully crafts and places positive space to give the negative space another meaning.

Using the bare minimum to communicate his message, Bar's distinctive work has gained him international recognition and work from leading companies including Vodafone, Coca Cola and the BBC.

16. Cut-Outs

Negative space in art

Simon C. Page uses negative space trickery to depict Batman versus Penguin

It's Batman versus Penguin in this brilliant print by graphic designer Simon C. Page. Part of his Cut-Out series (click each pixellated image to see the real thing), Page cleverly depicts both characters using negative space. The bald head and long pointy nose are instantly identifiable as Danny Devito's Penguin, which in turn, carves out the bold silhouette of Michael Keaton as Batman. 

17. Shigeo Fukuda

Negative space in art

Japanese graphic designer made full use of negative space in his artwork

Japanese poster designer and graphic artist Shigeo Fukuda's optical illusions brought him international renown. Much like many of his pieces, this striking black and white print, constructed of minimal, considered lines, is slightly disorientating – a theme that ran through his work up until his death in 2009.

18. The Kama Sutra

Negative space in art

Malika Favre is know for her naughty negative space work

When French artist and illustrator Malika Favre was commissioned to create the cover for this naughty classic, she went through many iterations – including this one – to get to the final design.

Known for her distinctive use of graphic shapes and bold colours, Favre comments on her website: "I try and get to the essence of my subject by using as few lines and colours as it needs to convey the core of the idea." And she's certainly done that for this version of the book cover, cleverly incorporated negative space into the design to depict various sexual positions.

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