Giv'em The Ol' 50/50 Rule — Corey Bernhardt

Submitted 11.30.23

Giv'em The Ol' 50/50 Rule

[02:58] “You take something very simple that everybody will know, and you kind of take that other 50% and flip it on it’s head a little bit. It makes the viewer stare at it a little longer.”

— Corey Bernhardt

Artists often face difficulty in capturing viewers' attention in a limited timeframe, so it can be very helpful and important to create elements that draw the audience in instantly. The “50/50 rule” in composition suggests presenting 50 percent of the composition as something familiar and relatable to capture the viewer, like a rooster or a skull, and enticing them with the remaining 50 percent, encouraging them to explore and engage with the artwork. 

flower bird tattoos by corey bernhardt

Corey’s “Flower Birds” are a perfect example of this rule. He shows the familiar shapes of wings, feathers, and bird legs while drawing your eye towards the head, then replaces it with an illustrative and surreal flower to disrupt the pattern and pulls the viewer in to figure out what’s going on in the composition. By offering something easily relatable, then simultaneously, the artist can inject an element of surrealism or intrigue, encouraging the viewer to observe and engage. 

Another way to draw attention is utilizing storytelling elements Incorporating recognizable features to entice viewers, and contrasting features keep them exploring further. Jake likes to take the hand holding approach, treating viewers as if they were kindergartners, ensuring the initial recognition of key elements. The aim is to guide the viewer's focus with easily identifiable aspects before introducing complexities that spark curiosity. 

Watch the full episode: 

Breaking Rules The Educated Way | Corey Bernhardt | EP 168

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