What Are Your Values?

Team members expressing their core value of teamwork

Article Highlights

In other words, who and what is valuable to you?

Values are the basic principles we cherish most, often summarized in one or a few words. They provide us with a sense of direction in life and business, helping us stay on track when facing difficult choices. People typically develop their own values through intuition, direct experiences, and second-hand knowledge.

We can hold many types of values. Some address individuals, such as honesty and kindness. Others require collective agreement and action, such as equality and freedom.

Team members expressing their core value of teamwork
In business settings, a common value is teamwork.

You might also be thinking about the monetary value of your business; this is important as well, but it is ultimately shaped by the core values that help your business run smoothly to generate revenue.

Depending on your industry, the term “values” might refer to something different.

In art design, values tend to refer to the different shades of light and dark.

They create the illusion of light and a sense of depth in a painting or digitally-designed item. The lower the value, the darker the tone; the higher the value, the lighter the tone.

Values also create a sense of movement, as they may give the illusion of light shining on a subject from various angles.

In most visual representations, such as the following drawing of a sphere,

  • There is usually a highlight so bright that it is the color of the paper.
  • If its surface is smooth, it will gradually transition into a halftone, or medium gray.
  • The shadow edge is an even darker part of any subject.
  • It may create a cast shadow onto other subjects or surfaces in which the light source is blocked.

Shaded sphere

There are many ways to put these values on paper, canvas, and more. They are only limited by the tools artists have, the techniques we know how to use, and the imagination we possess. Here are just a few techniques demonstrated in pencil.


Parallel Hatching: numerous rows of expressive lines

Contour hatching

Contour Hatching: hatch marks that follow the curve of each subject


Cross Hatching: sets of hatch marks that overlap in different directions


Smudging: pencil marks smoothed with cotton balls or tortillons


Stippling: small dots


Scumbling: loose, random scribbles

And sometimes, they relate back to our own values.

Art and design can communicate metaphorical values, too, from a creator’s personal beliefs to the standards of the culture in which they produced their work.

These values can be divided into two main categories: intrinsic and extrinsic.

  • Intrinsic values are inherent in the piece itself, such as beauty, originality, or emotion.
  • Extrinsic values are those that are not inherent to it; rather, they are assigned by outside observers, such as historical significance or market value.

Both intrinsic and extrinsic values are essential in art and design. Intrinsic values provide a connection between the creator and the viewer, while extrinsic values provide context and history. By understanding these categories, we can better appreciate any creative piece and the intent of whoever made or influenced it.

Why is it important to establish your personal and professional values?

Because, when our values are authentically our own, we are more likely to live in harmony with them and feel fulfilled as a result.

We value different things for different reasons. Similarly to how an artist might apply a range of light and dark tones with various techniques, we can develop and demonstrate our ideals in countless ways.

Just as they clarify what is being represented and expressed in artwork, values are both built by and shape our character. They give us a sense of identity. When we know them well, we are figuratively and literally three-dimensional people who are better able to stand up for what we believe in and stay true to ourselves.

So, which values mean the most to you? Once you have firmly established them, they can help you make better decisions in and beyond the workplace.

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