The Zebra – the Epitome of Graphic Design

I’ve always seen the zebra as the epitome of graphic design – it has all the elements – line value, diagonals, white space…

I was a Fine Art major in college. My emphasis was on life drawing. We would spend hours doing “contour drawings” where we would draw to actual contours of a model, never lifting the pencil from the paper. The idea was that when completed the dimensional shape would be evident in your drawing. Sometimes it was successful, sometimes not so much.

I experimented with sumi brushes making the lines thick and thin in order to show depth along with contour and I was a bit more successful with that method in creating something that was closer to being art and not just an exercise.

None of my experiments even approached the success of the lines of the Zebra – curving over the curved parts, widening over the wider parts – unfurling like the waves of a striped flag in the breeze.

It’s the ultimate use of negative space – show just the white on black and it’s all there, show the reverse and its design is just as successful.

How amazing is it that these stripes serve as camouflage in an environment made up of golds and browns. A brown and gold striped horse on the African plains would have been just as successful, yet this bold design works just fine in the presence of color blind predators.

Super-clean lines, completely functional design, bold styling – just perfect.

These Grant’s Zebras are a part of the herd living at the Promised Land Zoo just north of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.