Gestalt Principle of Proximity: Understanding What it Means and How to Use It

Our human minds are incredible. Not only can our brain group similar elements, simplify complex images, and recognize shapes. But it is also able to put all these concepts together in order to better help us understand the world around us.

In the 1920s, to further explore these concepts and learn more about how our brain works, a group of German psychologists began to investigate how humans process complex stimuli and interpret what they see. As a result, they developed the Gestalt Principles. These principles were a range of theories that explained how our minds tend to organize elements and group objects in predictable ways.

So why are we discussing these principles in regard to graphic design? Because once you know how these theories work, they are an amazing tool that can help you create and organize content that is not only aesthetically pleasing but makes it incredibly easy for your audience to understand. In this guide, we will introduce you to one of these theories, specifically, the Gestalt Principle of Proximity. Through the below information, we hope to explain what this principle is, how to use it, and how it can help you create user-friendly images or designs.

What Does Proximity Mean in Graphic Design?

The Gestalt Principle of Proximity indicates that things that are grouped closer together appear as they are more related than things that are spaced further apart. The principle of Proximity is incredibly compelling and often overrides when other attributes, such as shape, color, or other factors, are added that can differentiate a group of objects.

However, when it comes to graphic designs, this principle of Proximity means that objects that are near each other are often seen as a unit. Meaning designers can use this principle to create relationships between objects to help viewers understand the information that is presented. For instance, if you take a look at any web page, most of the related information will be placed near each other so that it can form a complete visual unit.

How to Use Proximity in Graphic Design

Quite often, when individuals are first getting started in graphic design, they feel that they need to fill up every inch of space on a page with some type of picture or image. Yet, what they quickly learn is that not only does this not make the page look good, but it makes the information incredibly difficult to digest.

However, when these designers start using the principle of Proximity, they find out that if they start grouping items that have something in common and separating the things that don't, they create a page filled with a clear hierarchy and visuals that make sense.

Best of all, designers can also use Proximity to get their audience to group certain elements together without having to resort to things like hard or thick borders. Instead, by putting objects closer together and making sure there is space between the groups, their audience will quickly pick up on the structure that the designer wants them to perceive.


Once you understand how to apply this Gestalt Principle of Proximity to your designs, you will be given the tools and insight you need to create enticing images that help you better connect with your audience. Even better, it will also give you new ways of approaching challenges and problems that you never thought possible. Allowing you to create beautiful designs time and time again that your viewers will love.

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