You’ve heard that there is a ‘grand design’ to everything, right? Well, we can pretty much pin the blame on that one to a dude named Fibonacci. He was an Italian mathematician who lived in the Middle Ages and was one of the brains that was fascinated by how numbers become integral parts of art and design.
You read that correctly, if you are a sketchy type, and have fallen for art for either a simple grade in school or to avoid math you took a wrong turn. That’s because art and design are closely connected to math. Sorry to break it to you. We couldn’t make this stuff up if we tried. Part of that grand design we were talking about just moments ago includes a healthy dose of math. And we’re not talking about that nutty ‘new’ math. We are pointing to old school math. You know, the type that required slide rules and philosophers dressed in long capes to ponder and speculate over for hours on end.
Formally known as the Golden Ratio, and informally known by several variations of that handle, it is a geometric proportion (1:1.61) that is believed to be the key to eye candy. What we mean by that is our eyes see things in certain ways. We aren’t going to get into the science of it because well, quite honestly, it’s boring. But we will say that if you divide a line into two parts so that the complete length divided by the long part you’ve cut it into is equal to the longer part divided by the short part of the line you’ve cut…you’ve mastered the Golden Ratio. Did you get that? Essentially the Golden Ratio makes everything look fab.
Which is where Liberace fits into the equation. Lee, as he was known to his friends, was a child prodigy who lived from 1919 to 1987. He is probably best known for his lavish, visual presentation (translation: wacky, outside-of-the-box wardrobe). He never looked anything but fab. Lee was talented to the point that he recorded upwards of 70 albums over his career. The pianist had an eye for flashy stuff and actually skipped radio opting for television because foxtail fur capes did not show well on radio.
Just as the Golden Ratio is versatile and appears anywhere you stare long enough to recognize it, Liberace grabbed your attention before you could look away. However, he was versatile thanks to his many talents that extended beyond the lightning from his fingertips. Lee was a well-known cook; poet and pretty much beat every other entertainer senseless in Vegas when the lights went up. His visual assault to the senses tested the 1:1.61 ratio to the limit. To steal the words of Liberace, too much of a good thing is wonderful. This brings us back to design. The next time you are in the grocery store stuck in line behind that little old lady who insists on paying for her purchase with coins, look around you. Not for an escape, but take a look at the product brand logos that surround you. If you look hard enough you’ll start to see the 1:1.61 Fibonnaci’s sequence.
Okay, we get it. You don’t really see the connection between math and groceries. So, here it is. The logos you see around you were designed by a graphic artist. That graphic artist probably went to design school. One of the first things that graphic artist would have learned, aside from how to draw without a pencil, would be the Golden Ratio, a natural mathematical explanation of beautiful art.
Now, the logos around you in the check out stand are not all going to jump out at you. Some will be invisible because they lack certain design elements. However, the ones that you can’t ignore – the ones that are as flashy as Liberace was at the peak of his career – will most likely be the ones that were designed following the Golden Ratio.
Fibonacci left behind a legacy that many have picked up and run with. Kind of like what Liberace was up to with his massive show on The Strip. He knew that taking that “good thing” to excess was going to spell success. Graphic designers follow the same basic incentive. Well, that and the fact that there’s a pay cheque somewhere along the way. But design would be flat, dull and non-Liberace like without the Fibonacci math sprinkled in for good measure. Besides, if you want your brand to be eye catching and breath taking at the same time, you need a Liberace treatment as nothing less would do.