Ways to Change Art


Extend or expand

Develop your reference subject

Augment, advance or annex it

Magnify, make it bigger

What else can be added to your idea, image, object, material?



Remove certain parts or elements

Compress or make smaller

What can be reduced or disposed of?

What rules can you break?

How to simplify?

How to abstract, stylize or abbreviate?



Contradict the subject’s original function

Contradict visually and intellectually, yet remain structurally integrated

Contradict laws of nature such as gravity, time, human functions

Contradict normal procedures, social conventions, rituals

Contradict optical and perceptual harmony e.g. illusions

Deny, reverse


Ridicule, mimic, mock, burlesque or caricature

Make fun of your subject, roast it

Transform it into a joke, limerick or pun

Make zany, ludicrous or comic references

Make a humorous cartoon drawing of the problem


Fantasize your subject

Trigger surreal, preposterous, outlandish, bizarre thoughts

Topple mental and sensory expectations

How far out can you extend your imagination?

What if automobiles were made of bricks?

Alligators played pool?

Insects grew as large as humans?

What if night and day occurred simultaneously?


Repeat a shape, color, form, image, or idea

Reiterate, echo, restate, or duplicate your reference subject in some way

Control the factors of occurrence,

Repercussion, sequence and progression


Cross-fertilize-wed subject with an

Improbable mate

What would you get if you crossed a ___

With a ___?

Cross fertilize color, form and structure

Cross fertilize organic and inorganic elements

Cross fertilize ideas and perceptions


Transform, convert, transmutation

Depict your subject in a state of change

Change color, configuration

Make structural progressions

Make aging (cocoon to butterfly)


Make Jekyll and Hyde transmutations


A visual symbol; stands for something other

Than what it is

Design an icon for your idea

How can your subject be imbued with symbolic qualities?

Public symbols are cliché, well know and understood

Private symbols are cryptic, have special meaning to its originator

Works of art are often integrations of both

Public and private symbols

Turn your subject into a symbol

(public or private)


Build a myth around your subject

Transform your subject into an iconic object


Bring things together

Connect, arrange, link, unify, mix

Merge, rearrange

Combine ideas, materials and techniques

Bring together dissimilar things to produce

Synergistic integrations

What else can you connect to your subject?

Connect different sensory modes, frames of reference, disciplines


Make subject bigger or smaller

Change time scale – seconds, minutes, hours

Days, weeks, months, years

Change proportion, relative size, ratios, dimensions


Exchange, switch or replace

What other idea, image or material can you substitute?

What alternate or supplementary plan can be employed?


Twist subject out of its true shape

Proportion or meaning

Make imagined or actual distortions

Misshape it yet produce unique

Metamorphic/aesthetic quality

Make it longer, wider, fatter, narrower

Melt, crush, bury, crack. Tear. Torture, spill

something on it


Camouflage, conceal, deceive, encrypt

Hide, mask, implant subject into another frame of reference

Conceal by mimicry, like chameleons or moths

Create a latent image that communicates subconsciously


Separate, divide, split, dissect

Take your subject or your idea apart

Chop up, disassemble it

What devices can divide it into

Smaller increments?

How to make it appear discontinuous?


Separate, set apart, crop, detach

Take only a part of your subject

Crop your ideas with a "mental" viewfinder

What element can you detach or focus on?


Mobilize the visual and psychological tensions

Control the pictorial movements and forces

Apply factors of repetition and progression

What human qualities does the subject have?


Overlap, place over, cover, overlay

Superimpose dissimilar images or ideas

Overlay elements to produce new images,

Idea, meanings

Superimpose elements from different perspectives, disciplines, time

Combine sensory perceptions such as sound and color

Superimpose several views to show different moments in time


Move subject to a new situation

Adapt, transpose, relocate, dislocate

Adapt subject to a different frame of reference

Out of its normal environment

Transpose to a different historical, social, geographical setting

Adapt a bird wing model to design a bridge

How subject can be converted, translated, transfigured?


Sympathize with subject

Put yourself in its shoes

What if subject has human qualities?

Relate to subject emotionally, subjectively


Fictionalize, "bend" the truth, falsify, fantasize

Use subject as a them to present ersatz information

Interpret information differently to mislead or confuse


Draw associations

Seek similarities between things that are different

Compare with elements from different domains, disciplines

What can I compare the subject to?

Make logical or illogical associations

Possible original source Design Synectics by Nicholas Roukes.