How To Organize Pictures On A Wall

Iam sure you’ve seen dozens of articles explaining how to organize pictures on a wall. A quick stop by Pinterest and you will have a days worth of ideas. Learning by mimicking is a great way to learn. Artists have the same approach when they are learning how to interact with a medium. Kids learn most things by mimicking parents and other kids. It’s natural. What if I told you that instead of mimicking you could learn a few concepts that can help you make your own design decisions and change them as you please anytime you may need to without having to spend time online?

I’m guessing you’re entertaining the idea!


*Design by Luiz Fernando Grabowsky

Here are a few basic guidelines to follow when thinking about hanging pictures on a wall:

  • Although it’s ok to mix and match different types and sizes of frames, they need to be consistent with your overall scheme so they can complement your decor and not tear it apart.
  • Look at your wall as a piece of paper. If need be, measure it and draw it to scale on an actual piece of paper to relate to the concept. I don’t think you will need to, but it might be a good way to test ideas before you go on a nailing mission.
  • Rudolf Arnheim wrote a book called The Power of the Center, A study of composition in the visual arts that deliberates on centricity and eccentricity with regards to centers of energy and the relationship a viewer has with a composition; as well as with regards to the relationship geometric elements have with each other, to include: limits, frames, spatial systems, volumes, all kinds of nodes and other concepts of space and depth. That is how you should look at your wall! As a composition that will relate to the viewer and the objects will relate to each other as well as the wall. If you have a couch up against the wall and you plan on hanging pictures above/behind it, remember to include the couch in your composition. The center of gravity of a sofa (or any furniture for that matter) will relate to the center of gravity of the frame or group of frames.




Over simplifying Arnheim’s study to the point he’d be turning in his grave, here are easy diagrams of spacial organizations for you to consider when creating your wall composition. From Ching’s book:

Screen shot 2014-11-22 at 2.03.46 PM

  1. Centralized
  2. Linear
  3. Radial
  4. Agglomerate
  5. Grid
  • Remember to align the pictures through their centers at eye level (if possible) if you are using a linear composition. Eye level should be between 63″/67″ (1.6/1.7m) to give viewers comfort.

In practical terms, use the example bellow to visualize the difference in approach that can make or break your composition:

  • Red = Don’t  |  Green = Do


Screen shot 2014-11-22 at 3.04.51 PM


Now that you are, perhaps, super confused and overwhelmed here is a cheat graph to make sense of all of this information:


Screen shot 2014-11-22 at 2.59.15 PM



Let me know how it goes and if you have questions send them in the comments section below!



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