Golden Mean

Joshua Williams


Professor Pennisi

10 / 8 / 14


Golden Mean


The “Golden Mean” is a philosophical term which is defined as the desirable middle between two extremes. One extreme is of excess and the other is composed of deficiency.  Golden mean is derived from the beliefs of the Greek philosopher, Aristotle who used the term to associate truth and beauty. In Greek culture, it is believed that beauty has three ingredients: symmetry, proportion and harmony. Each of these ingredients and the Golden Mean itself as a whole is a impactful contribution to design.


Symmetry is the quality of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis. This ingredient of beauty creates balance as pairs of similar shapes and patterns to complete a full image. Symmetry is useful in design because it determines where the center of a piece should be placed. Its origin comes from the Greek word symmetria which means “Agreement in dimensions.” This saying also applies to design because when the ratio of an image is equal from every angle, all sides of it agree as everything is in perfect balance.


Proportion is the adjustment of an object with the purpose of  forming a suitable relationship with something else. This is used in art to scale a drawing in comparison to the artist’s body.  Relating art to the human body is an essential part of design since it gives the image a real life point of reference which brings more life into the piece.  Proportion has aesthetic value as it illustrates how different sizes could interact with one another.


The final ingredient of beauty is harmony which is the success of art elements that create a visually pleasing image. Harmony is the result of when the first two ingredients, symmetry and harmony blend to create complete image that is perceived as true beauty to the human eye. To find harmony the image must first find agreement in placement through beauty. Afterwards, proportion scales the objects reasonable to a reasonable size. Finally, harmony is born through the success of precise care of design to grant the viewer the gift of visual beauty.
The Golden Mean is the placement between two extremes and the three ingredients of beauty prove that it is. Balance with the aid of contrast can construct aesthetic images through the use of design elements. A good artist can combine perfection with flaws and form a result that is visually pleasing. Symmetry, proportion and harmony create beauty by joining together through separation.

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About Joshua Shane Williams

Aspiring artist and graphic designer free lancing as well experimenting various mediums. Founder of Joshane Comics™ as well the creator of many characters and logos.
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