Negative Space: the book

by Fred Showker
NEGATIVE SPACE, by Illustrator, Noma Bar

SpockAn artist using "negative space" relies on the space that surrounds the subject to provide shape and meaning; of course, the term also refers to any topic that conjures feelings of unease and discomfort. With Negative Space, world-class illustrator and graphic designer Norma Bar solidifies his reputation as an artist able to convert complex topics into clean, provocative and revealing lines that viewers take in with ease, though they are not easily forgotten.

Buzz Poole, MBP managing editor and author of Negative Space's introduction makes this observation about Norma Bar:

QUOTE Noma Bar does not shy away from the difficult or the disarming ... He communicates some of today's most pressing issues, showing how these topics look to him, at times as disturbing as they are funny. END QUOTE

Norma Bar's depiction of celebrities with clever use of negative space

VW Bus with Doves as the negative spaceCelebrities: Such observations and interpretations of foreground, background, plane and object do not come easily. Rare genius takes over when some of those specific images take on further meaning to the discerning eye. In these depictions of popular celebrities, Bar utilizes a single element which characterizes the individual and melds it with flat color, logo-style, geometrically perfect shapes that make the character come true. What better device than 'radio active' for Castro or a guitar and harmonica for Dylan. Can you guess the other two?

VW Bus: Think about what the VW bus once symbolized. Anyone over 50 years of age should immediately see two doves flanking the bus, 'hiding' as roadway. But what of 'tears' -- do they seem to cry for peace? (demonstration)

Iraq oil editorial illustration defies the visual pun of what it is all about

How do you symbolize the world's energy crisis -- and being pinched by a small middle Eastern country?

Furthering the partnership that begun with the publication of Guess Who?, internationally acclaimed illustrator Noma Bar - recently dubbed by the magazine Varoom as "an illustrator that defines the decade" - has compiled his newest collection of work -- Negative Space. Comprising works commissioned by such prestigious publications as The Economist, Esquire, Wallpaper, The Guardian and Time Out London, as well as never before seen illustrations, in this book Bar focuses on subject matter ranging from sex, global warming and nuclear warfare to religion, crime and corporate greed.

The wolf and little red riding hood -- imposition of negative space tells the story

Woman and ManMark Sinclair of Creative Interview writes:

QUOTE To provoke a second glance, Noma Bar expertly uses negative space: his illustrations are formed of both a single image and a series of themed elements that give the final piece its shape. Note this quote reference END QUOTE

The New Yorker says:

QUOTE Take one look at the work of illustrator Noma Bar, and you'll be hooked. Sitting somewhere at the intersection of caricature, editorial cartooning, and graphic design, Noma executes complex ideas with a stunning—and deceptive—simplicity. But instead of drawing what people look like, he draws what they do—or, more correctly, what they are. He turns faces into logos, and his best faces are as memorable as Nike's swoosh or Target bull's-eye Note this quote reference END QUOTE

I highly endorse this bold paperback as the perfect companion for the graphic designer. It's a treasure trove of creative inspiration and an idea generator par excellence. I mean, who would show Little Red Riding Hood in the mouth of the wolf ... or, perhaps isn't that a superb juxtapositioning of images? How do you explain an alcoholic drinking problem? Is this perfect? For the graphic design lover, the media maven, the politics buff and the appreciator of art -- this will be the coffee table book to launch a million conversations!

coverNegative Space
World-Renowned Illustrator Noma Bar
Mark Batty Publisher; 128 pages; 8.5 x 11 inches;
Color throughout; Paperback

Norma BarAbout Noma Bar

Born in Israel in 1973, Noma Bar studied graphic design and typography at the Bezalel Academy of Art & Design, Jerusalem. He has been based in London since 2001. In 2003, Bar received his first national magazine commission from Time Out London, and since then he has worked for an array of media clients, including the BBC, Random House, BAFTA, The New York Times, Wired, The Economist and Wallpaper. Bar's first book with MBP, Guess Who? The Many Faces of Noma Bar, was released in 2007, showcasing his imaginative caricatures of the famous and infamous. This one too is a must have book!

You need this book. Seriously! And, thanks for reading!

Fred Showker

Don't forget ... we encourage you to share your discoveries about favorite or famous graphic designers and illustrators with other readers. Just comment below, contact me here, or just give me a tweet at Twitter/DTG_Magazine

Read more:

READ MORE Interview with Norma Bar at "Isn't that nice" blog

Mark Batty Publisher is an independent publisher dedicated to making distinctive books on the visual art of communicating, showcasing the visual power and innovation of contemporary culture in all of its varied poses. Today, the visual comes at us from more places than ever, and its dissemination is faster and more advanced every year. Books from Mark Batty Publisher capture this acceleration on the pages of every book. Affordable, well designed, thoughtfully created, and produced to last, MBP books are artful products that readers want to hold onto forever. (

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