Let There Be Light: Light Paintings and Sculptures

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Although light is considered to be rather a practical than an artistic tool, it has some properties which designers can effectively explore in their works. Indeed, light can also be considered as a medium for more powerful and more vivid artistic expression. In fact, many artists and crews make use of it creating quite impressive works of art.

In this episode of our Monday Inspiration series we present 50 beautiful examples of light art — paintings, sculptures, drawings and graffitts which were created using light. At the bottom of this post you will find references to related Flickr pools which contain thousands of further examples of what can be achieved out of creative experiments with light.

Light Paintings and Light Sculptures

Sitooterie II1
The structure is a cube punctured by over 5000 long thin windows that project from all its surfaces and lift it off the ground. As the long thin windows all point at the exact centre of the cube, it only takes a single light source, located at this central point, to send light through every tube, causing the windows to glow orange. A small number of them also project into the cube to form seating. Designed by Heatherwick studio.

Lightning Photography - Heatherwick studio - Sitooterie II2

Lightning Photography - Heatherwick studio - Sitooterie II3

I am on Fire4
Light painting by Benegizer.

Lightning Photography - Nebulous in Blue5

sm_light paint6
Created by Andrew Thomas.

Lightning Photography - sm_light paint scott17

Finding Light8

Lightning Photography - Finding Light - Part 19

feb light graffiti 01110

Lightning Photography - feb light graffiti 01111

Lightning Photography - feb light graffiti 01112

Light Circles13

Lightning Photography - PA278895.JPG14

Perfect Cicle15

Lightning Photography - Human Bulb16

Human Bulb17

Lightning Photography - Human Bulb18

Tunnel19
Kevinhooa walks backwards while circling a road flare inside the Oxford tunnel.

Lightning Photography - Human Bulb20

AntiVJ21
AntiVJ is funky and creative. The team creates visual experiments, installations and live light visuals. Videos are included.

Lightning Photography - AntiVJ is a visual label22

So far away23

Lightning Photography - So far away24

Lightmark25
Light architecture by Cenci Goepel and Jens Warnecke from Hamburg, Germany.

Lightning Photography - Lightmark | Cenci Goepel and Jens Warnecke | Hamburg | Germany26

Lightning Photography - Lightmark | Cenci Goepel and Jens Warnecke | Hamburg | Germany27

Eric Staller28
Light drawings and light sculptures created by Eric Staller.

Lightning Photography - Eric Staller - light drawings29

Lightning Photography - Eric Staller - light drawings30

Lightning Photography - Eric Staller - light drawings31

Lightning Photography - Eric Staller - light drawings32

Lightning Photography - Eric Staller - light drawings33

Spirallight34
By Robin Carpenter.

Lightning Photography - Inhabitat » SPIRALIGHT by Robin Carpenter35

Laser36
Created by Fesan from Norway.

Lightning Photography - Laser37

Light in the Hall38

Lightning Photography - DSC_012639

Fluorescent Tunnel40

Lightning Photography - [mb] Fluorescent Tunnel 641

Light Painting Humanoids42
Light painting examples by Christopher Hibbert.

Lightning Photography - Learning Light Painting | Abduzeedo - graphic design | design inspiration | design tutorials43

Lightning Photography - Learning Light Painting | Abduzeedo - graphic design | design inspiration | design tutorials44

Dean Chamberlain45

Lightning Photography - Dean Chamberlain46

Lightning Photography - Dean Chamberlain47

Abstract48

Lightning Photography - Abstract on the Behance Network49

Lightning Photography - Abstract on the Behance Network50

Lightning Photography - Abstract on the Behance Network51

My New Camera!52

Lightning Photography - My New Camera!53

Toby Keller54

Lightning Photography -55

Olho – Light Paint com celular e sony!56

Lightning Photography - Olho - Light Paint com celular e sony!57

Fun with light and robots58

Lightning Photography - fun with light and robots59

Lightning Photography - fun with light and robots60

Feb light graffiti61

Lightning Photography - Flickr Photo Download: feb light graffiti 03262

Lichtfaktor63
A German design crew which specializes in light graffiti and light drawing.

Lightning Photography - energie in motion on the Behance Network64

Light River65
A light painting by Crystal Chroma.

Lightning Photography - Light River66

Michael Bosanko67
“We Come In Peace”.

Lightning Photography - We Come In Peace68

Lightning Photography - We Come In Peace69

Experiments with Light70

Lightning Photography - experimentos para retrato 0371

Santa’s Reindeer – Light Sculpture72

Lightning Photography - Santa's Reindeer - Light Sculpture73

Abstract light painting74

Lightning Photography - IMG_160175

Breakwater76

Lightning Photography - Breakwater77

Neon Coriolis78

Lightning Photography - Neon Coriolis79

Bow80

Lightning Photography - bow81

Gyrating Quasar82
Photos created by throwing an old camera around various light sources. A camera toss in front of some lovely blue lights.

Lightning Photography - Comes from the earth but does not have the weight of a stone83

UVA and the Light Fantastic84
Some excellent examples of light installations presented by the Creative Review blog.

Lightning Photography - CR Blog » Blog Archive » UVA and the Light Fantastic85

Lightning Photography - CR Blog » Blog Archive » UVA and the Light Fantastic86

Lightning Photography - CR Blog » Blog Archive » UVA and the Light Fantastic87

Working Late88

Lightning Photography - Working Late89

Fireworks90
No light art without fireworks, of course… Sky painting at its best.

Lightning Photography - Working Late91

Lightning Photography - Working Late92

Last Click

Sprint flashlight93
Sprint commercial with flashlight animation.

Resources

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.heatherwick.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20&Itemid=41&limit=1&limitstart=3
  2. 2 http://www.heatherwick.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20&Itemid=41&limit=1&limitstart=3
  3. 3 http://www.heatherwick.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20&Itemid=41&limit=1&limitstart=1
  4. 4 http://www.flickr.com/photos/benegizer/808459254/
  5. 5 http://www.flickr.com/photos/benegizer/808459254/
  6. 6 http://flickr.com/photos/13908766@N00/149691302/
  7. 7 http://flickr.com/photos/13908766@N00/149691302/
  8. 8 http://www.flickr.com/photos/lukaskracic/677622888/
  9. 9 http://www.flickr.com/photos/lukaskracic/677622888/
  10. 10 http://www.flickr.com/photos/robokon_gt/2292590021/
  11. 11 http://www.flickr.com/photos/robokon_gt/2292590021/
  12. 12 http://www.flickr.com/photos/robokon_gt/2292590021/
  13. 13 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ewilhelm/1798408315/
  14. 14 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ewilhelm/1798408315/
  15. 15 http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonrphotography/2655645131/in/pool-76838000@N00
  16. 16 http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonrphotography/2655645131/in/pool-76838000@N00
  17. 17 http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonrphotography/2655645197/in/pool-lightmovement
  18. 18 http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonrphotography/2655645197/in/pool-lightmovement
  19. 19 http://www.flickr.com/photos/vogelium/2106600152/in/pool-94749148@N00
  20. 20 http://www.flickr.com/photos/vogelium/2106600152/in/pool-94749148@N00
  21. 21 http://www.antivj.com/
  22. 22 http://www.antivj.com/
  23. 23 http://www.flickr.com/photos/28075059@N05/2643353887/in/pool-lightjunkies
  24. 24 http://www.flickr.com/photos/28075059@N05/2643353887/in/pool-lightjunkies
  25. 25 http://www.lightmark.de/overview.htm
  26. 26 http://www.lightmark.de/overview.htm
  27. 27 http://www.lightmark.de/overview.htm
  28. 28 http://ericstaller.com/studio%20work/light%20drawings/?page=3
  29. 29 http://ericstaller.com/studio%20work/light%20drawings/?page=3
  30. 30 http://ericstaller.com/studio%20work/light%20drawings/?page=3
  31. 31 http://ericstaller.com/studio%20work/light%20drawings/?page=3
  32. 32 http://ericstaller.com/studio%20work/light%20drawings/?page=3
  33. 33 http://ericstaller.com/studio%20work/light%20drawings/?page=3
  34. 34 http://www.inhabitat.com/2007/02/15/spiralight-by-robin-carpenter/
  35. 35 http://www.inhabitat.com/2007/02/15/spiralight-by-robin-carpenter/
  36. 36 http://www.flickr.com/photos/28327062@N04/2652194681/in/pool-lightjunkies
  37. 37 http://www.flickr.com/photos/28327062@N04/2652194681/in/pool-lightjunkies
  38. 38 http://www.flickr.com/photos/14434260@N07/1472062840/in/set-72157602426421098/
  39. 39 http://www.flickr.com/photos/14434260@N07/1472062840/in/set-72157602426421098/
  40. 40 http://www.flickr.com/photos/merrickb/345237858/
  41. 41 http://www.flickr.com/photos/merrickb/345237858/
  42. 42 http://abduzeedo.com/learning-light-painting
  43. 43 http://abduzeedo.com/learning-light-painting
  44. 44 http://abduzeedo.com/learning-light-painting
  45. 45 http://deanchamberlain.com/
  46. 46 http://deanchamberlain.com/
  47. 47 http://deanchamberlain.com/
  48. 48 http://www.behance.net/Gallery/Abstract/42785
  49. 49 http://www.behance.net/Gallery/Abstract/42785
  50. 50 http://www.behance.net/Gallery/Abstract/42785
  51. 51 http://www.behance.net/Gallery/Abstract/42785
  52. 52 http://www.flickr.com/photos/52375768@N00/2460613319/
  53. 53 http://www.flickr.com/photos/52375768@N00/2460613319/
  54. 54 http://www.flickr.com/photos/burnblue/1760922800/
  55. 55 http://www.flickr.com/photos/burnblue/1760922800/
  56. 56 http://flickr.com/photos/auto_photo/592909831/
  57. 57 http://flickr.com/photos/auto_photo/592909831/
  58. 58 http://www.flickr.com/photos/trevor303/2443424408/in/pool-lightwritings
  59. 59 http://www.flickr.com/photos/trevor303/2443424408/in/pool-lightwritings
  60. 60 http://www.flickr.com/photos/trevor303/2443424408/in/pool-lightwritings
  61. 61 http://www.flickr.com/photos/robokon_gt/2287351015/sizes/l/
  62. 62 http://www.flickr.com/photos/robokon_gt/2287351015/sizes/l/
  63. 63 http://www.behance.net/Gallery/energie-in-motion/42738
  64. 64 http://www.behance.net/Gallery/energie-in-motion/42738
  65. 65 http://flickr.com/photos/43545546@N00/2484238896/
  66. 66 http://flickr.com/photos/43545546@N00/2484238896/
  67. 67 http://www.michaelbosanko.com/portfolio8407.html
  68. 68 http://www.michaelbosanko.com/portfolio8407.html
  69. 69 http://www.michaelbosanko.com/portfolio8407.html
  70. 70 http://www.flickr.com/photos/rtoscani/2656332912/
  71. 71 http://www.flickr.com/photos/rtoscani/2656332912/
  72. 72 http://www.flickr.com/photos/anindo/125608152/
  73. 73 http://www.flickr.com/photos/anindo/125608152/
  74. 74 http://www.flickr.com/photos/trevor303/2457681063/in/set-72157605225645732/
  75. 75 http://www.flickr.com/photos/trevor303/2457681063/in/set-72157605225645732/
  76. 76 http://flickr.com/photos/elray/281646889/
  77. 77 http://flickr.com/photos/elray/281646889/
  78. 78 http://www.flickr.com/photos/elray/320777840/in/set-72057594059675779/
  79. 79 http://www.flickr.com/photos/elray/320777840/in/set-72057594059675779/
  80. 80 http://www.flickr.com/photos/elray/123942271/in/set-72057594059675779/
  81. 81 http://www.flickr.com/photos/elray/123942271/in/set-72057594059675779/
  82. 82 http://www.flickr.com/photos/elray/350725828/in/set-72057594059675779/
  83. 83 http://www.flickr.com/photos/elray/350725828/in/set-72057594059675779/
  84. 84 http://www.creativereview.co.uk/crblog/uva-and-the-light-fantastic/
  85. 85 http://www.creativereview.co.uk/crblog/uva-and-the-light-fantastic/
  86. 86 http://www.creativereview.co.uk/crblog/uva-and-the-light-fantastic/
  87. 87 http://www.creativereview.co.uk/crblog/uva-and-the-light-fantastic/
  88. 88 http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomaschristensen/2081043813/
  89. 89 http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomaschristensen/2081043813/
  90. 90 http://www.flickr.com/photos/mr_magoo_icu/81936274/
  91. 91 http://www.flickr.com/photos/mr_magoo_icu/81936274/
  92. 92 http://www.flickr.com/photos/dailyville/215277405/
  93. 93 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lW_9SYaWAQg
  94. 94 http://www.flickr.com/photos/elray/sets/72057594059675779/
  95. 95 http://www.diyphotography.net/painting_with_light
  96. 96 http://www.digitalpicturezone.com/digital-pictures/25-amazing-light-graffiti-pictures/
  97. 97 http://www.flickr.com/groups/lightwritings/
  98. 98 http://www.flickr.com/groups/lights-n-shadows/pool/
  99. 99 http://www.flickr.com/groups/movinglights/pool/
  100. 100 http://www.flickr.com/groups/lightfantastic/pool/
  101. 101 http://www.flickr.com/groups/lightjunkies/pool/
  102. 102 http://www.flickr.com/groups/lightdrawing/pool/
  103. 103 http://www.flickr.com/groups/lightpainted/
  104. 104 http://www.flickr.com/groups/lightstream____/pool/
  105. 105 http://weburbanist.com/2008/07/07/10-amazing-light-graffiti-artists-and-photographers/
  106. 106 http://www.flickr.com/groups/thegalleryoflight/pool/

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

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  1. 1

    just fantastic

    0
  2. 2

    just fantastic thanks

    0
  3. 3

    Very, very nice !!!!!!!

    0
  4. 4

    In my opinion, Santa’s reindeer is the best one among these!!

    0
  5. 5

    Fantastic collections yet again – i will be coming back to this post for sure when i get some more free time!

    Leigh
    Portfolio

    0
  6. 6

    Cool! There are some beautiful thing between them :P

    0
  7. 7

    fantastic…

    0
  8. 8

    Eivind Ingebrigtsen

    July 14, 2008 5:05 am

    Somehow this site has lost its topic. And it doesn’t seem to be going back.
    I am sure I’m not the only one with this feeling.

    Come on Smashing – get back on topic and stay there.

    0
  9. 9

    amazing

    0
  10. 10

    Sandie Sørensen

    July 14, 2008 5:25 am

    Nice.

    I’ve been planning to make a such myself at some time. I was inspired by Pucasso… Tjek it out here:
    http://search.live.com/images/results.aspx?q=picasso+painting+with+light&FORM=BIRE#focal=17ca4cb76e09fcbf234b5547f61a871a&furl=http%3A%2F%2Ftropist.files.wordpress.com%2F2007%2F06%2Fpicasso2.jpg

    It’s funny how soft the curves get in these “paintings”… It’s a must try! Soon!
    Thanks for reminding me, and inspiring me- again!

    I particulary liked the photo with the two persons standing on the bridge and looking down on their reflections. :)

    0
  11. 11

    Always enjoyed doing this with slow shutter speeds on my camera.

    Niki Brown Niki Brown

    0
  12. 12

    Real nice, some great inspiration.

    Eivind Ingebrigtsen: I don’t see how this is off topic at all, sorry…

    0
  13. 13

    I know its a little off topic – however it was great to see Architecture in Helsinki’s song Souvenirs used for the Sprint flashlight commercial. Such a great Australian band.

    0
  14. 14

    I love the exploration of the intersection of art and machines (which is what artbotica is all about)… all art involves the use of technique… this art uses the technology of light as one of its primary techniques. Inspiring indeed.

    0
  15. 15

    check this out also, made by a design firm in japan. they were the ones that inspired the sprint commercials, but this video is sick. a bit long, but wait till the end where it gets crazy:

    http://tochka.jp/pikapika/2007/03/pika_pika_2007_release_1.html

    0
  16. 16

    Lightpainting is really fun!

    I wished my lightpaintings would look like the ones in this article.

    0
  17. 17

    Barbara Gonzalez

    July 14, 2008 7:16 am

    These are so unique, will be sending it on to all my friends.

    0
  18. 18

    I have one of those!

    In the form of Video:
    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=527103942566

    -Mike

    0
  19. 19

    What? No references to light beer? ;)

    0
  20. 20

    wooo flashy!

    0
  21. 21

    muy bueno, yo tengo hecho algunas cosas con de este tipo
    QuintoH

    0
  22. 22

    these are great. I used to send a mirrored light-written 2007 to my friends at dec 31st. 2006

    0
  23. 23

    WOW!, amazing!

    0
  24. 24

    simply amazing :O

    0
  25. 25

    Look great! Amazing

    0
  26. 26

    WOW!

    0
  27. 27

    Seems like Smashing magazine is becoming a Wallpaper site, No doubt its great stuff, but we expect some CSS/Javascript crunch along with these yummy wallpapers, Continous similar posts might get SM boring.

    0
  28. 28

    This is really wonderful, thank you, check this please:
    http://www.takuro-osaka.com/index.html
    also great work.

    0
  29. 29

    The Christmas reindeer made me laugh but great inspiration!

    0
  30. 30

    wow i really stunned with this collection… still wondering how they make these lighting..

    0
  31. 31

    I stunned through scrolling this collection. Great. Fantastic.

    0
  32. 32

    This looks totally awesome but I agree with the general consensus that Smashing Magazine should stick to publishing moar articles about web development.

    But hey, this is INSPIRATIONAL MATERIAL am I rite? You can never have enough of that. =3

    0
  33. 33

    Very(x10) nice ! ;)

    0
  34. 34

    Great.Fantastic!

    0
  35. 35

    woooooooooooow… its AMAZING!! fantastic, im very love it.. thx smashing ;)

    0
  36. 36

    GREAT !!!!

    0
  37. 37

    Oh! I loved these. In the studio that I work we did 2 light painting videos: midiaeffects.com.br

    0
  38. 38

    Wonderful images !!! and all my life I’ve just been using sunlight !

    0
  39. 39

    Fantastic

    0
  40. 40

    Wow! Stunning…and exceptionally inspirational.

    0
  41. 41

    it’s amazing. Images are beautiful……… Thanks….

    0
  42. 42

    God,so many paintings.
    If only there’s one from me ~~~~~

    0
  43. 43

    hahaha, Charles.

    0
  44. 44

    SLLLLOOOOWWWW!!!
    Nice, very nice!!!
    una joyita totalmete aleatoria de la tecnologia.

    0
  45. 45
  46. 46

    WOW, so amazing!!!!

    0
  47. 47

    Am I strange for seeing a squirrel in the picture above.

    0
  48. 48

    me too, lauren

    0
  49. 49

    TwitterBackgrounds

    July 7, 2010 11:45 pm

    I found all these light paintings very original. Nice choice!

    0
  50. 50

    Yippieeeeeeeeee I love light!!!

    0
  51. 51

    We did this for a contest with the subject “Speed”

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_mgqueRUEmV8/TOqCWJyEKCI/AAAAAAAAAkM/b_gTA4KM0u0/s1600/drawing+with+the+spees+of+light.jpg

    We used a flashlight, a neon and some color filters. Any thoughts ?

    0
  52. 52

    Not sure if the picture is set to private or not, but we were pretending to act out harry potter using long exposure and glow sticks. facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2406856288761&set=t.29002775&type=3&theater

    0
  53. 53

    I love light painting and the work with light.
    i found this: http://www.light-painting.eu

    Best regards
    KLaus

    0
  54. 54

    Thanks for all pictures it’s help me creating new ideas

    0
  55. 55

    Nice

    0
  56. 56

    This is very trite imagery, with not much of a range of how light can be used in art. I don’t understand why you show so much similar work, and not the broad range of art that works with light that exists. You could show Olafur Eliasson, Jon Sasaki, Andrea Stanislav, and those are my top picks from a 3 minute internet search, there is so much more of a range out there! The James Turrell tunnel at Houston museum is uncredited, which I also have a problem with, crediting is so easy to do, especially today! Articles like this are why the internet can be problematic, bigger (as in, more images) is not necessarily better.

    0

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