Size Does Matter
Of all the design concepts that artists must consider, I’ve recently gained an intense appreciation for the use of scale.
While Chase and I were vacationing (on the most incredible journey of our lives), we went to the Iao Valley on the island of Maui. For those that haven’t been there, Maui is covered in grandiose mountains covered in lush forests. Literally, when you look the other direction – all you see is the vast Pacific Ocean. Either way you look, you suddenly feel small and insignificant in comparison. It’s one of those moments where you contemplate your place in the world and wonder just how much of an impact one human being can have. I had a bit of an existential crisis standing there in that Valley – I must admit. It made me question who I was, where I was, and how this all came to be.
But I digress.
The point is that I realized then that scale is one of the MOST important things an artist can use to make their art important. In terms of design, scale is what makes us feel small – or large in the universe. Scale helps us to determine what is most important in the composition of a work, and it plays a crucial role in the telling of the story. The way that the mountains and the ocean make us feel tiny, or the way that a row of ants on the sidewalk makes us feel like giants – these are instincts we all react upon as humans, especially when they are turned on their head and we change our standards on scale. As artists, we use scale in our work to determine what is most important – on our canvas or outside of it.
By breaking our normal standards of scale, artists are able to make a statement. Here are just a couple of examples of how scale is used to make an impact -
There are thousands of examples I can give – but the fact remains the same: by challenging our normal standards of scale, artists are able to challenge the viewer’s perception of the world, of reality, and of themselves. Just as we feel awe at the natural wonders that surround us – from the tallest mountain to the tiniest blade of grass – so should our art inspire a grasp of our place in the universe.
In short, size does matter. In the end, it’s a deciding factor in how we determine the value of art.
Finally, just watch this little flash presentation by Cary Huang. It’s something to remind us all that no matter how large or small we may feel at times, it just depends on what we’re standing next to.