Psychedelic or Minimalist

In art and design, you can find practically infinite number of styles. Every designer has a different taste, and this shows on their work. But today we will inspect two very different types of art. One is simple, and its simplicity is what makes it great and attractive: minimalism. The other is chaotic and vivid, with bright colors, and this makes it impossible to miss. Both are good for advertising and creating striking images, but let’s see why.

Psychedelic is a relatively new term, it was born in the late 1950’s, and a psychiatrist Humphry Osmond came up with it, for hallucinogenic drug reactions. These reactions often brought forth someones subconsious, creating vivid dream-like states: their perception of the world changed, their awareness was altered, and of course, they hallucinated. This state of mind was especially common in the 1960’s. So it manifested itself in the hippy era, making its way into art and music. The psychedelic rock was born, and at first these albums needed some kind of cover, so we can see a lot of psychedelic illustrations on album covers (e.g. Santana Abraxas).

This style of art uses very bright and vivid colors, with abstract forms and shapes, for example bright neon green, yellow, purple, blue and red. It seems, that this style of art just doesn’t know what pastel colors are, or how to make the impression of a fine gentleman. But the goal is also different, with this form of art you want to upset, to push somebody out of their comfort zone, but at the same time, it has to be constant and recognizable, so it can grab the attention of the audience. It has to mesmerize the viewer to be effective.

The psychedelic style is living a sort of revival these days through advertisement, of course it’s watered down a little, we can’t see the true chaos in them. With this style a designer can catch attention, but if it’s overused, it is confusing. In ads you have to be as simple and straightforward, as possible, and you can achieve this through chaotic lines and bright colors, but if there’s too much, the viewer can’t take it in at once, and the massage of the ad is not obvious. Which is not always a good thing.

Psychedelic is best for street advertisements, where the product has to jump out from the billboard, and have to grab attention fast. Mostly it’s used for shopping products and it appears lively and young.

Fanta ad by Jonathan Zawada

Minimalism is the other end of the scale. It was born roughly the same time as minimalism, in the late 60’s and early 70’s. But it’s motto is fundamentally different: “less is more” – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The major goal of minimalism is to strip down a concept, an ad, or a picture, to it’s bare minimum. And don’t include anything else. As the psychedelic style, this is also very difficult. You simply need to feel when to stop in both cases, here you have to see, what is too much, and what explains too much about the design, and the other case, you have to stop not to make it too abstract (in case of advertisement).

A very famous, and obvious minimalist company is Apple. A minimalist picture, advertisement, or website has to be clean, simple and easily usable. It takes advantage of the opposite thing: the striking here is the absence of things.

Now which one is better? There’s no definite answer to that. Both of them can be very successful, and also, their mix can be effective (for example the Apple iPod advertisements, where a silhouette dances in front, and the background is a bright and vivid color). Only individual taste can define the success rate of these, but they are both visually appealing.

The minimalist style is much more elegant and professional. Big companies use it, mainly it is used in logos and websites, where a chaotic layout is a disadvantage. But it can also strike on a billboard.

Apple uses a mixture of minimalist and psychedelic

Lead picture from: mrecko999 on deviantart.

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