Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.” 

John Maeda, The Laws of Simplicity

I bought this book the day we visited the Museum of Art and Design in NYC with Jennifer! It was a special day and this was a nice memento and reminder of the day.  I confess I haven't read it in full; but I was drawn very much to the notion.

This brief quote from the book sums it up for me. Simplicity in a design or an art piece is about removing the obvious and yet making sure that whatever is added in is meaningful, and purposeful.  Sometimes adding the meaningful can be about adding a blank space to something I suppose. But each element that remains is meaningful, not just there for decoration.

Maybe this is too considered an approach for some artists who might prefer to just place things and respond and keep adding and balancing. I am nearly always trying to work if I HAVE to add anything; I am nearly always satisfied with less, and have to be pushed (by myself or in the presence of others) to add things in. I like simplicity.

The more I think about and talk about art, the more I try to make sure my work isn't too obvious; not too direct. But I do like simplicity in work - the essence or the pared down nature of it. I find simplicity quite beautiful and restful and I think that's how I want my art to be.

©2010 Fiona Dempster 2010


  1. adding and taking away things until you arrive at the essence is my entire modus operandi

    1. Thanks Ronnie - it feels like a chemistry equation at times, getting things to balance either side. Still, it's the only way that makes sense for me...

  2. Fiona, do you think this has the same meaning as that oft trotted out phrase 'less is more'? It's something I aspire to but usually I can't resist the urge to add something completely unnecessary. I love the idea of pared back, stark simplicity but don't think it's in my make- up!

  3. Hi Lesley, I've not noticed your work having added unnecessary extras I must say.

    I think this idea is a relative of the less is more thought, rather than a twin of it. This one feels quite a lot more purposeful to me - deliberate and really trying to add meaning and fight hard against the obvious. Less is more seems like a lighter version of that - happy acceptance perhaps of less without perhaps knowing why one is pursuing it? Hmmm, not sure really and not explaining well sorry!


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.