Mini Art School #1

I found this magazine ad for the Nike 123 marathoner shoe online, and I was immediately drawn to its bright colors. As someone who loves running and buying new shoes, I decided that this would be the advertisement I would use to help me think about design principles.


Although the rules of design dictate that the use of too many colors can clutter an image and make it appear too busy, I think that in this case, Nike’s use of color creates a feeling of excitement and energy and the solid black background prevents the image from being overwhelming to the viewer.

It also combats over-stimulation by keeping the font face the same throughout the entire ad. It uses a playful bubble-lettered font that is easy to read and meshes well with the other curved lines and circular shapes throughout the shoe.

At first, it seems like the advertisement does not adhere to the principle of uneven spacing, placing the shoe directly in the middle of the frame. However, upon closer inspection, the splash of color in the bottom left corner creates an off-center balance to the piece that adds visual interest and does give a sense of creativity to the whole ad ( Krause 19).

In addition, the design uses repetition to create calm and harmony, even in a very bright and in your face image. The repeating colors of green, pink and blue guide the eye through different parts of the advertisement and make it easy on our brains. The only color that may seem out of place is the purple Nike logo. However, it is clearly meant to stand out right in the middle of the frame and remind us of who’s selling this shoe.

Furthermore, it reminds us what the product exactly is several times through subtle theme and grouping techniques. The shoe is called the 123 marathoner. We see these numbers in written and numerical form inside the shape of a shoe, and we’re reminded that it “breaks tape” in April 2011. By creating a theme of these three numbers associated with running, it reinforces the idea that if you’re a runner, this is the shoe for you. Another design principle, used primarily by websites, is that the goal or message of the site should be clear. In the case of this advertisement, the goal smacks you right in the face with a giant silhouette of a shoe that you should most definitely buy. However, the details are a bit more elusive. It is up to the viewer to determine from visual clues that this is a running shoe, and that it is meant for long distance running.

The presentation is decisive, placing the shoe in the center of a large empty space focalizes the attention towards it. It takes into account not only color but the values of color weighted up against each other, using the contrast of bright versus dark to draw attention. Overall, the advertisement implements a number of design rules and strategies to create a compelling graphic design with a strong message.

Going to School

My own pursuit of using the principles of design for the purposes of message design turned out to be a lot of fun. At first it was a little bit frustrating to work with digital tools to work my designs, but after a while I became more confident using Canva, an online graphic design tool to create my very own music festival poster. I chose this exercise because it requires a lot of work with colors. It’s a fun audience and my biggest goal was to create a visually interesting piece.

As you can see, I got more confident towards the end and decided to use an entire photo in my design. I did my best to keep the color scheme within the same grouping for each poster. However, I think my favorite piece is still the first poster I did because of it’s simplicity. I think the spacing makes it less crammed and more easy to read. It keeps the focus on the information itself, rather than the visuals surrounding it. I tried to use the Nike ad as inspiration and use a color pop for the music festival logo.

I also chose to redo a recruitment banner I designed for my fraternity, after concluding that it was just way too busy. The new design simplifies the entire banner and makes it easier to read. It also makes use of white space, a principle emphasized by Margaret Kiernan in her interview with our professor. However, it maintains visual interest by making the background a deep purple color. I think that the changes make it more accessible to the viewer and make better use of the visual space.

banner redo

The new product gets the message of the banner across more quickly and also makes it easier to read by limiting the number of fonts in the piece. A passerby would be more likely to remember the information and webpages without the overcrowding of other information and wordiness surrounding it. I think that this design could also easily function as a business card. I look forward to improving my designing skills throughout the rest of the semester. I’ve already seen a great improvement in my intuitive design skills after learning about the basic principles.



4 thoughts on “Mini Art School #1

  1. Hi Jessica! That is a really great Nike ad. I’ve never seen it before, and it is really eye catching, I can see why you decided to choose it. I decided to choose a poorly designed piece, so it’s interesting to see you talk about all of the things they did right instead of all of the things they did wrong! Your festival posters are great! The middle one is my favorite. It intrigues me to look further the most I think. The simplicity leaves a spark of imagination available. It’s awesome to see your redone recruitment banner. The new one looks so much more modern! Good job.


  2. Hi Jess! I’ve never seen that Nike ad before. It caught my eye, as it caught yours; and I think it would catch just about everyone’s eye. The bright colors really pop out on the page, screaming at the viewer, “Look at me!” Although sometimes these bright colors could be distracting, I think it works for this advertisement. Nike wanted to catch the audience’s attention. If you were skimming through a magazine and saw this ad, it would be difficult to look over; if you were in NYC and saw this on a billboard, your eyes would float up. Within the bright colors, the first thing that pops out on me is the work “nike,” and secondly the logo. I think this ad was well done, catching the audience’s attention with bright colors that jump out at them.

    For promoting a product, this design works. However, if a similar image was used in a different context it may be too distracting for the viewer. For example, if an image with bright, neon colors was used in a serious news article, it could take away from the text. An image like this needs to be used carefully; but when used well, it is really powerful.


  3. I love the advertisement that you chose as it is very dynamic and visually interesting. I think that your analysis was great and these elements of creating calm and harmony as you mentioned can be applied to materials you design for your own classroom. I also love the designs that you created as they are very eye catching and get the point across quickly and efficiently!


  4. Hi Jessica,

    Now that I know there are three activities here… 😉

    I LOVE this Nike ad! As your colleagues commented above, I, too, have never seen this image before, but I think it’s a fantastic example of following the rules of design as you articulated in your post – nice job! I’m not sure when was created, but Nike clearly started the trend in 2011!

    I’m glad to hear that you took the plunge with using a new digital tool, Canva, for the poster exercise. The first poster you created is my favorite as well. As much as I love chevron design (reminiscent in poster #2) I agree that the simplicity of the first image worked really well for your festival title. I will say that I really liked the arrow at the bottom of the second poster though – something about it caught my attention in a good way, and the fact that you chose zig zags and curvy arrows as opposed to the “obvious” layout choice also piqued my interest. You did a great job with all three poster designs, regardless.

    Finally, the changes you made to your PSP flier look great! I like the solid colors in the background, and the simplicity of one theme. The only thing I felt was “missing” from the new flier were the Greek letters. As a sorority alumna, I know how important letters are! Where would you put them if you were to add them back in?

    Well done!
    Prof L


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