What are "The Elements of Art & The Principles of Design" 
and why are they such a big deal?

There may be no perfect way to explain the importance of the elements of art and the principles of design.  These "rules" are all around us, in every thing we see and touch, everything we problem solve or contemplate:  the clothes we select to wear, how we arrange our furniture or work space, a billboard we drive by that moves us to turn off the road to get a burger.

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Abstract: existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.
Ambiguity: uncertainness of meaning.
Composition: a complete work of art or design, seen in total, not as individual visual elements. Comprehensive design: the final rendering of a graphic idea, short for comprehensive.
Format: refers to the layout of a design, the surface area in which a composition is created and it’s boundaries, such as the size of a business card or brochure.
Idea: a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action; a concept or mental impression; the aim or purpose.
Line: a line is an identifiable path created by a point moving in space. It is one-dimensional and can vary in width, direction, and length. Lines often define the edges of a shape. Lines can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal, straight or curved, thick or thin.
Representational: relating to or characterized by depiction of the physical appearance of things.
Rough sketch: a mid-stage development of a graphic idea, often shown to a client for approval.
Shape: the form of an object or its external boundary, outline, or external surface, as opposed to other properties such as color, texture, etc.
Texture: an interwoven pattern of light and dark tones that imparts a physical quality to a surface—rough, smooth, etc.
Thumbnail sketch: a small sketched idea, a fast way to generate multiple ideas.
Ubiquitous: present, appearing, or found everywhere.
Long Questions and Short Answers:

A Q&A with Award-Winning Art Director Brian Rees

Andrew Hanelly — June 4, 2012

My experience with graphic design is limited to oohing, ahhing, and the occasional “holy [expletive deleted], that’s good!”  Understanding the science behind the art has never been my forte, but has always been a topic I’ve been fascinated with.  So, instead of just continuing to stare at great work with a glazed look of appreciation, I sat down with award-winning senior art director Brian Rees and asked him to share his perspective from the other side of the InDesign document. And being a nice guy, he complied:

1. How has design changed during your time in the industry?

Technology now enables a designer to do things unheard of just two decades ago.

2. Where do you look for inspiration for your design work?

Television, advertising and environmental inspirations.

3. What is one thing design should always do?

Make you think? (and be pretty, of course)

4. What is the biggest mistake you’ve made (or see other people make?)

Going with the first layout that comes out of you…

5. Creativity and deadlines aren’t always friends (let’s call them frenemies), how do you solve the problem of being creative on-demand?

For me, it actually helps knowing a deadline is impending. Sometimes it enhances creativity.

6. Are there any websites you check for inspiration or advice?

Getty and photography in general can spawn wonderfully fresh ideas.

7. If you could give one piece of advice to a recent college grad about to enter your field, what would it be?

Stay young at heart and never close your mind to new ideas.

10. How do you create inspiring design if content is … dry?

Humor always helps.

11. What famous (or not so famous) designer inspires you and why?

Clothing designers, because they are masters of form & fluidity.

12. Know any good quotes about art direction that you think are worth publishing?

“Art gives voice to that which has not been spoken.” —Unknown

15. What work are you most proud of and why?

My ability to work with just about anyone.

17. What are some trends you wish would die today?

The arrogance of top creatives.

18. What is one thing you wish every editor knew about design that could save you time, headaches, and frustration?

Not every editor should be a designer.