I don’t know about you, but as a designer I love deconstructing things. What makes something tick? What are all its elements? What colors make it pop?

So it was natural that the #ThingsOrganizedNeatly trend and blog would catch my eye – and I’d bet you’d like it too:

#ThingsOrganizedNeatly creation by Poster Child Prints

By Poster Child Prints

#ThingsOrganizedNeatly creation by Ballen Photography

By Ballen Photography

#ThingsOrganizedNeatly creation by Johanna Inman

By Johanna Inman

#ThingsOrganizedNeatly creation by Neil Henegan

By Neil Henegan

According to the project’s founder, Austin Radcliffe, the point is not to appeal to the OCDs and anal retentives of the world – it is to provide an artistic place of sanctuary in a chaotic world. As he put it, “Precision is beauty.”

The objects in your photo can be arranged according to size, shape, color or gradient, or according to a less straightforward or linear association, as long as they are obsessively neat in composition. Taking the time to adjust items to perfect right angles or precise patterns shows intention in your design. You didn’t just find these objects this way (although some #ThingsOrganizedNeatly submissions are more organic); you took the time and effort to arrange them.

This design trend isn’t just for the visual appeal (although there are many fans of this type of eye candy); it can add a highly stylized and dynamic visual to a website, business card, or magazine layout, as shown below:

#ThingsOrganizedNeatly creation by New York Magazine

Stocking stuffers spread by New York Magazine

Here are some things to keep in mind as you compose your own #ThingsOrganizedNeatly masterpiece:


The way you light your piece can make or break it; even Radcliffe stresses its importance. He only selects photographic submissions that exemplify high quality photography or design knowledge, including making good use of landscape and using the proper lighting. Don’t shroud your piece in shadows (unless done thoughtfully!) and don’t wash out the subjects, either. Sometimes the shadows themselves can make a great part of the composition.

#ThingsOrganizedNeatly creation by Adam Voorhes

By Adam Voorhes


Remember, this trend is about neat organization – don’t just throw down or scatter your objects within the frame. Focus on the lines and angles of your piece, and use negative space to your advantage. Ideally, the information is presented so neatly that it requires little interpretive effort from our brains. Keep in mind, however, that this doesn’t mean you have to keep your piece small – your arrangement could be vast, containing hundreds or even thousands of objects.

#ThingsOrganizedNeatly creation by Richard Long

By Richard Long

Thematic Integrity

What is the thread holding all these objects together? Maybe it’s the type of object (parts of a bicycle, many colors and varieties of tomatoes), the source (the contents of your backpack, things you found beachcombing), or the color (every yellow thing you own).

#ThingsOrganizedNeatly creation by Emily Blincoe

By Emily Blincoe

#ThingsOrganizedNeatly creation by Jim Golden

By Jim Golden

#ThingsOrganizedNeatly creation by Seun Ismail

By Seun Ismail

Sometimes, you may not have a clear thematic connection between the objects you select, as in the case below. But there is still a vibe that carries throughout – from the wooden model toting the lipstick, to the pineapple with sunglasses, the image below has a fun and vibrant tone throughout.

#ThingsOrganizedNeatly creation by Leta Sobierajski

By Leta Sobierajski

…But There Are No Real “Rules”

But, as always, rules are made to be broken. Challenge yourself – how can you forge a connection between a hodgepodge of unrelated objects? What new ways can you find to organize and photograph the stuff that accompanies you throughout your everyday life? I hope you give it a try.

#ThingsOrganizedNeatly creation by Rachel Ignotofsky

By Rachel Ignotofsky

#ThingsOrganizedNeatly creation by Audubon Aquarium

By Audubon Aquarium

Publish your creations on Flickr or Instagram with the tag #ThingsOrganizedNeatly. To submit your own photograph or design to Radcliffe’s curated collection, click here.

Yellow objects photograph by Seun Ismail. All other photographs from the Things Organized Neatly archives.

About the author

Lexie Lu

Hello! My name is Lexie and I have a fervor for design, writing, and coffee. I graduated with a dual major in Creative Writing and Commercial Design, and through those grueling study hours (facilitated by coffee, of course) I always found time to write for myself.

My posts feature design trends throughout all industries and show how the field is always changing. There’s never a dull moment in the design world!

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.