Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Invert Art

Take a look at this art by a Malaysian artist named Brian Lai.  It is obvious that he is a skilled artist, but it looks unrefined with little detail.

The real genius and detail of his art only comes out when you look at it through a negative lens!

He calls this technique invert art, and he invented it while at art school in Malaysia.  He first draws out a reference sketch with normal coloring.  Then he inverts the colors from the normal sketch.  The hardest part is trying to get the toning right, because without proper toning the negative version will not look as refined.

Remember how Steve Jobs learned calligraphy because he liked it and stored it in his mind, only to retrieve it during the development of the Macintosh.  The typography on the Macintosh is what set it above other computers.  Brian has a similar story; he was thirteen when a friend took a photo of his signature with a negative lens.  Brian was amazed, but did not think twice about it.  Seven years later, when he was in art school that moment came back to him.  He then tried to put that effect into his art, and he created invert art.

In Ward, Finke, and Smith’s paper Visualizing in a Creative way, they wrote, "Infusing subtle details into mental images, scanning the images to make not of the details, and recasting the images to see things in different perspectives can all inspire original discoveries.”  This is exactly what happened to Brian.  He had a mental image of a negative signature, and while in art school he recalled that image and used it to inspire his original discovery. 

Check out this video of how he creates this amazing art.

Week 3- Ward, Finke, Smith


  1. Artists have always amazed me with their ability to draw such realistic drawings, but this guy just takes it to a whole new level. You do a really good job of bringing it in to class topics and readings we've had. I really like how you relate his story to the story of Steve jobs, it worked very well. I would be interested in knowing a little bit more about Brian Lai and his background. Has anyone else picked up this technique?

  2. His has a very interesting and inovative approach to sketching. It's weird that small, almost memories like the one when he was just 13 can come back to you and spark this sort of creativity.

  3. This form of drawing seems very mathematical. I would love to see a study on Brian's brain about which forms of processing he is using at different moments. He is clearly very high in the visual-spatial intelligence, but I can imagine that his ability to precisely invert values ranks high in the mathematical processing as well. Thanks for sharing! It's always interesting to hear about innovative creators in the visual arts realm!


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