Fear of White Space

Once advertisements were introduced to newspapers, the challenge was to distinguish them from editorial content. Goodbye, grey columns of text type, hello bold and bolder display faces and eventually little pictorial cuts. But adverts were still tightly packed together, and although visibility was better, it was still a struggle to be unique. The missing ingredient was white space.

Printers and publishers were afraid of the void, that it might look like a mistake or that readers weren’t getting their money’s worth. White space eventually became the hallmark of graphic design Modernism, but it happened gradually. We’ve learned to never underestimate its graphic power. These examples from the early ’20s (supplied by Mirko Ilíc and Borut Vild) of the Serbian Yugoslav newspaper POLITIKA reveal how there’s nothing empty about emptiness.

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