Ever since the development of the Foote, Cone and Belding Grid in the late 1970s, the FCB Grid has been an essential tool for the advertising industry. In essence, the Grid is a design template allocating the most appropriate places in an advertisement to insert imagery and information where a viewer will have the “right” mindset for negotiating meaning. For instance, on the left side of an image a viewer has a propensity to read information with an analytical mindset. Consequently, imagery that leans to a process of rationalisation is well suited if placed in this region. By contrast, on the right side of an image a viewer is more likely to want to respond to imagery intuitively. Thus imagery that is likely to excite the subconscious in a reflexive (i.e. automatic) way—perhaps emotionally—is best placed there. The lower region of an image is where a viewer tends to want to see everyday subject material. Therefore this is the ideal area for subject material addressing temporal issues. Finally, in the upper region of the image a viewer is disposed to see meanings dealing with the spirit. To tap into this way of looking and feeling, imagery evoking feelings of spiritual transcendence or mediates with a viewer beyond everyday concerns is shown here.
Of course every artwork engages with a viewer in different ways and so there are no inflexible rules for how an artist should express a personal vision. But this does not mean that the FCB Grid has no value as a guide for visual communication outside of advertising. To explain how the disposition of subject material into pictorial zones has always been a part of an intuitive mind map for artists, even before the FCB Grid was formalised, the following discussion focuses on the example of a remarkably dramatic etching by Daniel Heimlich (1740–96), Lightning in a Landscape.