Percy Principles of Art

A while ago I found an amazing set of principles of art written by Marvin Percy Bartel, Emeritus Professor of Art. They are called the Percy Principles of Art and the original document can be found here. After getting permission to use Mr. Bartel's Principles in our class I customized and reworded these principles a bit  just as YOU will need to do for this quest.


Percy Principle #1 - Avoid a sore thumb.

When there is something so strong in your piece that nobody notices all the rest of it, it makes all the extra stuff almost invisible... all they can see is that one super-obvious item. Avoid that. If there is more than one thing in your piece, don't make one thing too strong.

Percy Principle #2 - Keep everything connected.

Connect each part of the composition to something else in the composition - otherwise it's just a random pile of stuff. Use similarity to make it obvious that things belong together. Common Trainee mistakes – using a different font and color for different items on your page. That makes it look unprofessional and lame- totally random. Have a reason for your fonts. They should mean something obvious to the person viewing your work.

Make a piece of art... not a piece of crap.

Percy Principle #3 - Include Secrets.

Make it FUN!!! Just showing the obvious is never as fun. Instead hide some amazing stuff in your art. Try to get people to look at your artwork for longer than a glance. Want some great examples to look at? Check these out! I LOVE logos with secrets!

Percy Principle #4 - Challenge common assumptions.

You know what they say about when you assume, right? People do it all the time. Be subversive in your art. Tell a lie. Be sarcastic. Make fun of something. Make your art say something and make people think.

Percy Principle #5 - Cherish Mistakes.

Sometimes a mistake is just the universe's way to get you to be more creative and expressive. Don't be so quick to delete or trash mistakes. Save them. Sometimes there's something AMAZING in your mistakes. Learn to use them. Of course, sometimes mistakes are just that.. a mistake. I'm not saying to never throw anything away... just be slow to do it. Sometimes you're making mistakes because your brain is trying to get you to see this incredible thing that you can't see because you're focused on something else... listen to mistakes and see if there's something that might be hidden in there for you!

Percy Principle #6 - Be Accident Prone

Sometimes we're so focused on what we're thinking about that we miss an opportunity. Sometimes mistakes happen when you think you know what you're doing... we just talked about that in number 5. But sometimes you're having a hard time creating something amazing... Save your progress... and then do a "save As..." and call it "projectname-test1." Then go crazy. Don't try to make what you were trying to do... just play with it and know you can't mess it up- you already saved a copy of your progress... use this test file to really go crazy and don't be afraid.

Accidents and mistakes are such useful problem finding techniques that we need to practice them. Some projects can have "intentional accidents" as part of the lesson. It is a way to learn how to generate problems and ideas.

Percy Principle #7 - Never borrow other artist's ideas. Steal 'em!

This is CRITICAL to understand.. An idea can't be copyrighted or patented. Ideas and concepts belong to everybody. A particular arrangement of words, sounds, pixels, etc... can be copyrighted- but not the idea. So steal ideas and make your own expression of them! Don't steal what another artist did... Steal what they THOUGHT or HOW they created ...  and then think about it some more, and design your own expression of that thought.

Percy Principle #8 - Make it memorable.

Good art punches people in the brain. Make it unforgettable. It's really easy to do this when you twist things up.... like we discussed in #4 above. Make it striking. Make it amazing. Make it beautiful. Shock people into remembering your art... I don't mean taking the cheap and easy way and being obscene or overly blunt.  I mean the creative way- making them have an "Ah- HA!!!" experience with your art. Make them see something new. Make them see something old in a new way. Make them see a new side of something.

Bottom line... make them see something new.




To complete this mission... post about all of the principles. Make a new post title it "Percy Principles."

Then copy the principles... but REPLACE MY PARAGRAPH with your own description and explanation of the principle and what it means.


Fantastic work Visitor.

I like what I'm see from you!


Now...Are you ready to show Mastery?


Make a post that contains ORIGINAL ART that illustrates ONE of these principles. It must be done in Illustrator or Photoshop!


Set your document up to be 17x22  inches (150 DPI in Photoshop) and it must be ORIGINAL.


Yes, it's a lot of work. But it's also a lot of points!

Show it to the Captain, and when he approves it as awesome, you can claim mastery! He's a picky old fart... so be sure that your final piece is truly amazing. You already got a lot of points for completion. Mastery on this one is TOUGH.

We have High Standards!!!   We set High Standards!!!

Awesome Job!! You are doing amazing stuff.

The Captain is picky so you MUST have impressed him.

Skip to toolbar