Look Up! But I Don’t See Anything?

When I was little, one of the commercials that ran locally featured Detroit Pistons guard Isiah Thomas teaching kids about electricity safety. In the commercial, Thomas asked a little boy, “Look up.” To that, the little boy responded, “But I don’t see anything?” The commercial went on to discuss looking up for power lines. However, the exchange resonates with me this week as I thought through graphic design. I don’t claim or pretend to have an artistic eye. I tend to take things in the most literal sense. And, I frequently find myself engrossed in my iPhone reading through emails instead of observing what is happening around me.

At the beginning of Kelli Anderson’s TedTalk, she explains that she gets to tinker with the designs in every day lives. This week, I committed myself to “looking up” so I could take in the world around me so I could take in and think about design concepts and “tinker” with the things that I probably see every day but am too busy “looking down”.

As part of the design safari, I collected representative pictures. In full disclosure, I did not necessarily take all of the pictures featured. However, they were images from the past week that I either enjoyed “live” because I was there in person. Or, “admired and appreciated” because someone shared them with me.

Color: I love color! It helps convey mood and settings. When I’m feeling bright and happy, I’ll frequently put on a pair of red heels. My first car was bright yellow and strangers frequently stopped me and said, “Looking at your car just makes me feel good!” When my team was out visiting the local city square for lunch, we chanced upon an old Beetle car. Even though it was pretty rusty, the red paint still gave it a vibrant yet nostalgic feel. It was parked next to a Good Humor Truck with a red strawberry sundae bar and had a wagon on top (also two items that “tie” into the red theme and remind me of my childhood). All in all, I left the square with this image and couldn’t help but feel happy and reminiscent.    


Metaphors and Symbols: It’s been a long winter! When I was out walking with a friend at a nearby like, we came across a single dead leaf clinging to a tree. The bright blue of the lake provided a backdrop for the single leaf that, although still dead, symbolized that spring WILL come (eventually) and the leaf’s sheer determination to stay put instead of fall off…despite the horrible winter. This picture also struck me as something that could go under “Unity” as it does represent the connectedness of the branches and seasons (bright lake for summer vs. dead leaf for winter).


Balance and Symmetry: I am a perfectionist. So, I love straight lines, linear angles, etc. One of the photos I posted included dual rainbows that came after a huge thunderstorm passed through the area. I love the perfect matching arcs of the rainbows, particularly against the “quilt” of grass and trees below.


The other picture comes from a friend on vacation who was trying to make me jealous! The pool and sky appear almost as mirror images. Her legs follow the strips of the towel and buildings in the background. This photo also made me think of “Movement” since I can almost picture the person jumping into the water at any minute.


Rhythm: I never really thought much about a still photograph having rhythm. However, I changed my mind when we captured the sky after a series of storms passed through. The sky was beautiful and the clouds left such a pretty pattern and almost “parted” for the sun to make an appearance.


I also captured a photo of the Detroit skyline. The press is usually so negative about the city of Detroit. However, there really is a new rebirth going on. In looking at this photo, it reminded me of a heart beat pulse monitor. The skyline is Detroit’s new pulse. I know that this is definitely creative interpretation of the photo (and “rhythm”).


Proportion: Finally, we came across a bench in the forest. It seemed so small and simple compared to the large trees and bright sun. However, the tall trees made me feel like I would be safe and protected should I decide to sit and take a nap there.




One thought on “Look Up! But I Don’t See Anything?

  1. Beautiful pictures! I think the first one illustrates the power of color very strongly. I reminded me of the 1950’s and summer days… Is it just me or does red seem to have the most effect of the color design element? I’m sure there are strong examples using other colors, but red just has a certain effect.

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