She talks about how classical principles such as contrapposto – a way of posing a model so that most of their weight is on one foot, resulting in a delicately curved posture – and the golden section – a rule of proportions based around a ratio of 1:1.6, which classical scholars believed to be innately pleasing – are still powerful forces, even in digital art. For a practical guide on how to use the golden section in your artworks.

“We have been following these ‘divine’ concepts for generations. We have inherited all this information – it is in our cells,” she says. “In my work, they are important, but in a very intuitive way as I don’t particularly try to use them; they just come naturally.

For his poster artworks, Mads Berg believes that beauty comes from the understated. “Simplicity and balance are things that I worship,” he says.

 

“I guess the same happens with other creatives. These concepts are something deep inside us, like our need for food or love.”

“Proportion is important; symmetry is not,” says Mads Berg. His highly stylised Art Deco-inspired posters have a sense of coherence which is the result of meticulous composition. “Things that are off-balance please the eye... I try to avoid putting things right in the middle, so they’re always slightly off-centre.”

Building blocks of beauty
Although Mads doesn’t use the golden section, he says he tries “to build up the composition with all kinds of lines and curves that connect to each other. There’s a kind of grid or architecture behind it”.

 

He adds: “It’s a matter of treating very simple shapes as quite important actors on the stage. What I do more and more is start with a strong composition, a shape that is turned clockwise about 35 degrees. I’m afraid I have no idea why – it all sounds so technical, but it just seems right.”

If composition is important, so is colour – whether you’re using delicate pastels or shockingly vivid hues.

British illustrator Sarah Arnett (saraharnett.co.uk), who creates stunning semi-abstract, nature-inspired patterns and photomontages, explains: “Colour can have a real effect on what is beautiful; it affects your immediate emotional response.” She adds that the palette of a piece can have a more immediate impact than even the subject of the work.

Mads Berg says he likes to work within a stripped-down palette – usually three colours or fewer. “I always try to have only a few colours to work with, and look for shades within those colours.”

Ana Montiel’s use of colour is guided by gut feeling. “It’s very instinctive to me to use a lot of colour in my work. Sometimes I’m in the mood for brighter colours, but on other occasions I’m more into muted, very pale colours. I can’t really explain how I use them – my creative process is very intuitive.”


The Judgement by Ise Ratinan Thaicharoen

Stories told by colour
For Ise Ratinan Thaicharoen (dieeis.wordpress.com), who is based in Bangkok, Thailand, colour is “one of the most important factors” in her collages. “Colour can communicate feeling and tell us a story.
I like to use a pastel palette but sometimes I go noir – it depends on what’s happening in my life.”

Sarah Arnett adds that colour and composition can, between them, seduce the viewer effortlessly – and she agrees with Ise that colour can have a strong narrative effect. “When you have given thought to the composition and colour and how that may affect someone, the way the eye moves across the image and subject matter creates a thought process.