September 28th, 2016

Macbeth the Usurper

Art Deco 101 - Symmetry and Asymmetry

Art Deco is always symmetrical. Always. I can't find any example of period Art Deco which doesn't use symmetry.

Most Art Deco is vertically symmetrical. Draw a line down the middle, and the right will be the same as the left. This symmetry may be direct, like two doors next to each other, or spaced, such as a three section work, where the ends are one symmetrical design, while the middle is a different symmetrical design.

Sometimes you see both horizontal and vertical symmetry, but not often. Even more rarely do you see diagonal symmetry. Rarely do you see circle bounded symmetry.

Infinitely symmetrical, circles were used with great care as they are such dominant design elements.

That Art Deco should be vertically symmetrical, but not generally horizontally symmetrical, fits in with the ideas and necessities of architecture. By structural and practical necessity, the top of a house could not be symmetrical with the bottom. It naturally follows that the top of Art Deco would not match the bottom.

While lacking vertical symmetry doesn't automatically make a design not Art Deco, it's a warning sign, and most likely, the design won't feel right. Where a design is asymmetrical, it will be executed with great consideration. The results will feel bold.

Asymmetry is almost always associated with necessity. (If you can't move a stairwell, then you must design around it.)

Return to: Art Deco 101

Douglas Milewski is a fantasy writer who liked drafting class too much. In his recent artistic struggles to produce art deco for his own covers, he found no internet sites dedicated to the technical underpinnings of the art. Seeing a niche that needed filling, he has documented his hard learned experiences. He doesn't claim that he's right, and would very much appreciate it if someone more competent would save him from his own folly.
Macbeth the Usurper

Racism in Double Jack

As I wrote Double Jack, I could not ignore racism in the 1920's. To ignore racism was to create too much of a fantasy, while to feature racism was to change the fundamental nature of the work.

To given you an idea of racism in the 1920's, Birth of a Nation premiered in 1915 and went on to sell a zillion tickets. Not only was there racism in this day and age, it was overt and unabashed. These were the days when racial purity mattered. These were the days when boxing colluded to keep out black boxers and Negros were fully excluded from baseball. Racism was the legal framework of the United States.

In Double Jack, I chose to apply racism as invisible to my main character. He saw Negros, interacted with them, accepted them in their station, and never once questioned whether any of it was right. He never once saw the rules as wrong. You, as a reader, I hope, see and recognize the racism for what it is. You may not know what their story is, but you know there's a story there.

Even the word that I use for Black Americans is the word of the age. Negro.

I avoided 'nigger'. It was period, but I never ran into a place where the word found appropriate expression. My grandfather used the word all the time. "That's what they're called!" he complained when he learned that people didn't like the word. My personal belief is that Sloe Joe should have used that word carelessly. It wasn't a cruel word to him, it was just a fact. But for us, it's not a fact, it's a cruel word. I think that Jack accepted it as a cruel word as well, so when he wrote down his memoir, he excised it from Joe's vocabulary. Joe wasn't cruel, but he was a product of his age.