Design teacher explains how to use “negative space”

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Douglas Thomas, assistant professor in the design department, lectures students on negative spaces. The conference is the first in the Faith and Works conference series for the 2021-22 school year. (Mandi Robins)

BYU design professor Douglas Thomas delivered a message about negative space to students at the College of Fine Arts and Communications on Thursday, November 4.

Through the lens of design, Thomas discussed the deliberate use of negative space while describing the iniquity and healing it brings.

“In my graphic design industry, we think about space deliberately and often, with great consideration,” Thomas said.

He mentioned the Jewish term “Sabbath” and how the name not only marks a day of rest, but is a verb meaning to cease or to abstain. “There is a very deliberate way of saying no,” Thomas said.

“Saying no is actually your most powerful friend,” he said. “It is perhaps one of the most powerful design tools you have; saying no is a powerful tool to make time for other things that are more important.

Thomas told the students about his experience at the University of Chicago while obtaining his master’s degree in social sciences. He explained how busy the library was on Sundays.

During his experience there, he relied on the promise found in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things will be added to you.

His colleagues would be in the library designing buildings from dawn to dusk, but Thomas had many opportunities to test the principle.

Thomas said he felt like he was lucky enough to have ideas due to the deliberate decision he made to get up early on Monday or work late on Saturday instead of being at home. library on Sunday.

When deliberate in time and space, there are also built-in inequalities, Thomas said, such as white space being a luxury commodity. In publications, books, and other design projects, white space can be determined by how much money is available.

“Those moments of rest that are so crucial to typography and so crucial to our lives, like our Sabbaths, actually require us to sacrifice time and money,” Thomas said.

He concluded his lecture by discussing the healing that comes from negative spaces.

“Negative space forces us to consider what is most important,” Thomas said. “Sunday time can be one of the most difficult times for all of us as we are actually forced to face the difficult truths in our lives. ”

The power of negative spaces in life becomes a source of healing and a way to strengthen yourself spiritually, Thomas said.

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