Aesthetics is a collection of tools used to create and appreciate beauty, such as shape, rhythm, contrast, scale, color, and texture. Most creative people have a natural affinity for aesthetics, learning through experience the various tricks and techniques that produce the effects they’re looking for. They often apply these techniques unconsciously, without ever using the word aesthetics.

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Other people would just as soon throw the whole notion of aesthetics out the window. They contend there are no universal laws for creating beauty, and anyone who says there are is not a true artist.

But aesthetics is not a book of laws. It’s more like a box of toys. When you play with these toys, applying them to your project in various ways, you’ll find they can bring clarity, excitement, and nuance to your work. Some of the more universal ones are shown here.

If these tools seem abstract to you, it’s probably because you haven’t felt their weight in your hands or applied them consciously to real tasks. With enough practice they’ll begin to make sense and become powerful extensions of your creative skills. Aesthetic choices are never right or wrong, just better or worse. Try them and see.

Next week: Visualize with sketches, models, or prototypes.
When ideas flow, the music of chance plays faster.

The Rules of Genius is now a book with a bonus section called “How can I matter?” that includes 10 essential rules.  Buy here.