Elements of Art – Elements of Design

The Elements of Art (also known as The Elements of Design) are the building blocks of visual language. Learn about design elements so

Photo Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), 2018, The Pillars of Creation.

What are the Elements of Art?

The elements of art (or design) refers to color, copy, form, line, shape, space, texture, typography, and value. These are the basic building blocks of art (e.g., paintings, drawings, sculptures) and visual communication. Artists, graphic designers, and others use these elements to compose art and communicate using the power of visual language. Just as the alphabet, syntax, words, and genre are the basic building blocks of alphabetical language, these are the basic elements that artists, writers, and others use to compose infographics, data visualizations, and other graphical illustrations.


The Elements of Art may also be referred to as The Elements of Design.

Why Do the Elements of Art Matter?

Writers, artists, graphic designers, and other creatives employ their knowledge of design elements in combination with their knowledge of design principles to entice audiences to read their texts, enjoy their compositions, and use their products.

Additionally, these elements provide the vocabulary you need to discuss your visuals or the visuals of others. Knowledge of these elements can help you better understand why a composition works or why it may need a bit of revision.

Principles of Design

While the elements of art concerns the basic units of visual language, principles of design refers to the theories, conventions, and artistic traditions that inform how artists, writers, speakers, knowledge workers . . . use design elements in their texts (aka compositions).