It is a no-brainer to write a blog about color as a designer. Almost every creative person uses this topic. People have been writing about the meaning of color for centuries. What it is. What it means. How to use it. Yet the meaning of color is not as black and white as it seems. You can’t just put a generic label on a color. The meaning of color also has to do with culture, history, and geography. That is why, as a designer, it is always important to know the target group for which you are designing.
For example, the color yellow. Ask the average Dutch person how the color yellow makes them feel. They will give you answers like: ‘summer, sun, cheerful, happy. Some even make the connection with Easter. Yet the color yellow in the art movement ‘Expressionism’ stood for hatred and jealousy.
In the western world, white stands for virginity, purity, clarity, and innocence. However in Eastern countries, white stands for death, mourning, and funerals. This a clear example of why it is important to know who you are designing for.
Everybody knows when you see pink balloons, a baby girl is born and in blue balloons, the baby is a boy. Yet in the 19th century, those colors were used the other way around. Pink stood for boys and blue for girls. Because the blue color was related to the color of the robe of the Virgin Mary. The color pink for boys was derived from the warrior red for men.
A green color today stands for nature, calm, and healing, however, if you go back in history, you will come across a completely different explanation of the color that used to stand for toxicity, jealousy, and disease.
Another example is the color red. In Eastern cultures, red is associated with happiness and joy, it is used at many weddings and celebrations. However in Russian culture, red stands for Communism. But in South African culture red stands for mourning. Red in English culture stands for prostitution. This is a clear example of where you can go completely wrong as a designer if you design for different cultures.
My conclusion is, that I can not write ‘just another article about color. At the end of the day, it’s not only what others say about a certain color but also what your personal preference is when it comes to color. My favorite colors changed over the years. Right now I’m drawn to everything that has the color turquoise but also orange or pink. I’d love to know your favorite color!
Do you want to know more about the history of color? I suggest looking into interesting books that explain the psychology and history of color.