February 19, 2014 § 1 Comment
February 19, 2014
Last January, Christine Peters, a marketing consultant in the financial services industry joined my class in Burbank, California. Interestingly, Christine has more than just a passion for color-she actually experiences a phenomenon called synesthesia. It is such a fascinating topic. I just did a report on synesthesia to a forecast group in London. There are personal variations of this condition and it is important to know about those variations so I invited Christine to guest blog on the topic.
Cross-Wired And Color-Crazed By Christine Peters
I’ve always had a love for magazines. The glossy pages, the styled photos, and the bite-sized content create the perfect recipe to help me unwind. Some people like to end a stressful day watching a favorite TV show, or enjoying a glass of the finest merlot. Instead, I reach for a magazine for my fix, and flip, flip, flip through the pages over and over savoring every inch. However, despite my lifelong passion for magazines, I never would have imagined a magazine could, and would, change my life.
In the spring of 2010 I was on a business trip to NYC, and as I trekked through LaGuardia a magazine titled The Brain caught my eye (who knew there was such a thing as a magazine about brains!) It was obviously a must have for me after a long and stressful day.
I boarded my plane and started flipping away, and found an article that was of particular interest called The Cross-Wired Brain. It was about an unusual condition called synesthesia. As I read more and more, I had that magazine life-changing-aha moment.
What I experience ALL THE TIME is not the norm for most humans. What I experience is actually called grapheme-color synesthesia “in which the visual appearance of a written letter or number triggers an experience of color”. I was astounded – both at the fact that this was considered an unusual condition and at the fact that I had never, ever heard of it, but have been experiencing it my whole life.
Essentially, for me, everything has a color inside my mind that is usually not the same color my eyes see! Each day is filled with rainbows of color. Each word has a color that may or may not be the color represented by the colors of its individual letters. And again, it is usually not the same color as it appears when I look at it. This can be complicated and yet wildly colorful which, for me, is the best part.
While reading that article it struck me that having grapheme-color synesthesia has shaped my life and decisions in ways that I have never even realized. Generally speaking, I sometimes can get tripped up by indecision, and now I believe it is largely due to the many colors on my mind! For example, naming my children was especially difficult because the letters in each name needed to have just the right color harmony. I thought every new parent had that same dilemma!
As another example, buying a car can be strange and riddled with indecision too. The word car in my mind is bright yellow (C), light green (A) and a deep, dark purple (R). Not quite the colors you would typically consider when heading to a dealership. To complicate things the brand name of the car has it’s own color as well.
I also tend to remember things by color. So if I remind myself to grab my keys, I will be thinking about the colors orange and red (K is an orange color and the letter S is bright red and they both overpower the colors for E and Y) For some reason, the vowels all have lighter colors in my mind’s eye. The more information I have to think about or remember, the more colors I have on my mind.
Given my new revelation, I started to pay close attention to how I process colors and information on a day-to-day basis. I can be swayed to choose one thing over another based on the colors I think of in my mind. And colors I see in my mind can even affect how I feel. I started to research the psychology of color, which ultimately led me to Lee Eiseman’s 4-day Color/Design class. Color can be so strong and powerful that it can affect moods, influence behaviors, and even drive purchasing decisions. It has always been natural for me to think about color given my “superpowers”. Now that I realize other people don’t quite have these same intrinsic ideas about color, I’m more motivated than ever to understand how color plays a role in every day life.
I am grateful for this gift. Knowing I am synesthetic has helped me explore my own creativity and passion for color and literally see my world now through a different lens!
February 3, 2014 § 1 Comment
February 3, 2014
Enjoy this little color tidbit.
“The blue mussel mollusk creates a unique amino acid, which formulates a strong thread, connecting it to rocks in the ocean. By remaining attached to the rocks, mussels withstand the pounding waves of the surf. The mussel “glue” is created at ambient temperatures, under ambient pressures, and in a wet environment. Looking to nature, researchers were able to mimic the mussel recipe, creating a soy-based and formaldehyde-free adhesive now used in its products.”
Click the link below to read more.
January 27, 2014 § 5 Comments
January 27, 2014
I am always intrigued by trending or popular stories that are making their way around the web. I have been known to indulge in my fair share of sharing of colorful infographics and eye catching imagery, thank you, Pinterest. But once the initial glow of awe has dissipated it is then when the real work gets started.
In the color business it is crucial that information be correct when it comes to color as our upbringing and personal experiences shape our lives and perceptions of things. Often our personal feelings can override our objective behavior and we can set things into motion that may not be exactly as they appear. This is especially important in color matching when you are seeing things online versus in person. It is here that I might add the disclaimer that everything you read/see on the internet is not true.
Let’s talk specifically about the most recent color goodie from Google Alerts, that came across my computer screen titled ‘Forget the blue plate special: Have the red plate dieter’s meal’ by Tom Jacobs for Salon.com.
Here is an excerpt. “…the takeaway from a recent study by researchers from the University of Parma in Italy, published in the journal Appetite.
The researchers served test subjects popcorn and chips on crockery of various colors, and found that the snackers sampled smaller amounts when the items were offered on red plates. The subjects reported the same level of enjoyment of the treats regardless of what they were served on, suggesting the plate color made the difference.
The researchers theorize that red—due to either cultural associations such as traffic lights or biological ones such as blood—is linked in our minds with “danger and prohibition.”
It sounds compelling. Let’s take a closer look at the actual study. Here is the Abstract.
“Recent literature suggests that individuals may consume less food when this is served on red plates. We explored this intriguing effect in three experiments. Independent groups of participants were presented with constant amounts of popcorns, chocolate chips, or moisturizing cream, on red, blue, or white plates. They were asked to sample the foods (by tasting them) or the cream (by rubbing it on the hand and forearm) as they wished and to complete mock “sensory analysis” questionnaires. Results confirmed that red plates reduce taste-related consumption and extended this effect to the touch-related consumption of moisturizing cream. Suggesting that the effect was not due to a decrease in the consciously experienced appeal of products on red plates, overall appreciation of the foods or cream did not differ according to plate color. After careful photometric measures of the materials used for each food-plate pairing, we determined that food and cream consumption was not predicted by Michelson (achromatic) contrast. Although the origin of the intriguing effect of the color red on consumption remains unclear, our results may prove useful to future potential explanations.”
The results were “unclear.” I wonder why that part didn’t make it into the article.
I hope none of you ran out to get those red plates. I too get excited about new studies (especially those on color) that come out but I have learned to take the extra time to trace the information back to the original study to fact check as the information has a way of getting twisted just enough to create a buzz.
We may be a nation in need of dietary assistance but preying on our insecurities and color assumptions or misinformation, is not the way to go about it. As seekers of color truths, it is our responsibility to change the color conversation to properly reflect colors’ true psychology.
January 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
January 3, 2014
In 2005, I did a Color/Design class here on Bainbridge Island (as I do every summer) for those wishing to expand their careers in color and had the good fortune to have a lovely woman named Irma from Indonesia enroll in the class. Needless to say, Bainbridge is a long way from Jakarta and I was delighted that she was motivated enough to come all that way to take the training program, especially because I had spent some time in Indonesia doing consulting and presentations for a very large cosmetic company founded by a woman named Martha Tilaar. She literally started her company on a shoe string budget with a recipe for skin cream passed on to her from her grandmother. She had seen my first book, more recently re-done as More Alive With Color, and decided to contact me about the possibility of coming to Indonesia to train her make-up artists and salespeople in color.
I happily took my first trip there in the late 80s and subsequently went back to Indonesia twice in the 90s (including Bali— but that’s another story) and enjoyed every moment there. This is a country rich in color heritage and the women are really quite beautiful. They are a mix of native Indonesian, some other mixed Asian cultures and Dutch. The furniture in their homes, the food they eat and the clothing they wear reflects those varied cultures. Ms. Tilaar was a fabulous hostess and I found out when I was there that she had quite a success story behind her. When she took me to one of her cosmetic-producing factories, she opened cauldrons of bubbling creams and had assigned color names from More Alive With Color. It was quite a colorful and amazing experience!
It is always gratifying to hear from former students, particularly when I have such fond memories of both Irma and her country, so I was happy to hear from her with an update on what she has been doing in the eight years since she took my class.
Among many other advancements in her career as a personal image and fashion consultant, she has been quite busy picking the colors for Garuda Indonesia’s crew uniforms. It was such an amazing coincidence that earlier in the year, July to be exact, she chose reddish purple as an additional color for the Maitre de Cabine uniform of Garuda Indonesia new cabin crew uniform (national flag carrier airline). Additionally in 2009 as part of the team of consultants for Garuda, Irma chose three colors for the new cabin crew uniform: turquoise, orange and blue (purser). After the launching of the new uniform in July 2010, she was thrilled knowing that turquoise was chosen as Color of the Year (2010) and Orange or Tangerine Tango for (2012).
Well done, Irma!
December 24, 2013 § 1 Comment
December 24, 2013
I was reading the NY Times this morning and was drawn by this story about visionary art as it is based in my hometown of Baltimore. As I clicked over to the AVAM site (American Visionary Art Museum) and started looking around I got really excited.
AVAM has something for everyone (as most museums do) only this time it comes with a little twist. One of the current exhibits is called Human, Soul & Machine: The Coming Singularity.
As the website describes it, “The American Visionary Art Museum’s 19th original thematic exhibition is a timely and playful examination of the serious impact of technology on our lives, as seen through the eyes of 40+ visionary artists, cutting edge futurists, and inventors. Pleasing to an audience of Nobel Prize winners and schoolchildren alike, this show asks, “Two billion personal computers later, post DNA-sequencing, are we on the road to becoming a better, healthier, happier, less warlike, human race?”
Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with color. Well, as I was reading through the details of the exhibition I was quick to notice that one of the artists included is Neil Harbisson. If you follow me on Facebook you might recall me sharing Neil’s Ted talk “I Listen To Color.” Neil has created a world for himself based on color and technology which has opened up a whole new world for him. As a person who works in and with color, the growing conversation is increasingly intermixed with talk of technology and how we see color.
There are a few different schools of thought when it comes to looking at color on a computer versus seeing it in real time. Although it is tempting to view color digitally and it has come a long way since the days of limited “web safe” colors, at this moment, I tend to fall on the side of color in real time and always send clients seeking color advice hard copy of the colors, but who is to say that technology won’t make virtual color matching easier in the future?
How do you weigh in on “real” color vs digital?
Have a safe and Happy Holiday!
December 17, 2013 § 2 Comments
December 17, 2013
Brett Doss attended my talk for the Seattle Fashion Group back in October and we have been in touch ever since. Take a moment to stop by Brett’s site to enjoy his photography and see what he has to say.
Thank you for the wonderful article, Brett! Job well done.
November 18, 2013 § 6 Comments
November 18, 2013
Have you ever stopped to think about how color truly affects our lives? I understand the joy of color and know, first hand, how color can influence most aspects of our day to day existence. Then I remembered a movie that does a lovely job of capturing the transformative aspects of color.
That movie is Pleasantville. While I was watching the movie I had a bit of an epiphany. I then Googled Pleasantville and found this gem of a quote from Warren Epstein (The Gazette) on Wikipedia that really summed it up.
“This use of color as a metaphor in black-and-white films certainly has a rich tradition, from the over-the-rainbow land in The Wizard of Oz to the girl in the red dress who made the Holocaust real for Oskar Schindler in Schindler’s List. In Pleasantville, color represents the transformation from repression to enlightenment. People – and their surroundings – change from black-and-white to color when they connect with the essence of who they really are.”
Have you ever stopped to think about your immediate color world? What colors give you the connection to who you really are?
I was once asked “If you could live without color, where would you give up color?”
Would you be willing to give up color?
October 4, 2013 § 4 Comments
October 4, 2013
Teaching my color/design class has brought me into contact with so many creative people who work with/in color. As a teacher and a lifelong student, I am fortunate to be in contact with a lot of amazingly wonderful and talented people.
Color is the binding agent for which these relationships are forged and it is the provider for the inspiration that we all bring into our daily lives as well as our careers. Color touches every part of our lives; from our surroundings, to what we put on our bodies, down to the car that takes us where we want to go.
Consciously or subconsciously we are having a daily color conversation with ourselves. It is the driving force behind our choice of what to wear, unless you live in a nudist colony. It is in these daily “conversations” that we discover the power of color in our lives.
It is my love for color that got me here, and into teaching about color. It was through teaching color that I come to meet other people who share their love of color and how they use it. How people are using color directly affects how I learn and teach about color, which is what inspired this (and all) of my blog posts.
One of the students from my summer 2013 color class recently sent me a very Emerald inspired link from one of her colleagues. Click the link below to take a look at how Emerald, Pantone’s 2013’s color of the year, has inspired the creative juices.
Do you have a love of color? Does color drive your daily decisions? Has your love of color opened up your world to new possibilities? If so, I would love for you to join me for my next color/design class this January in Burbank, California.
I look forward to meeting you and hearing about your love of color and how you use it in your daily lives.
September 30, 2013 § 4 Comments
September 30, 2013
Who doesn’t love a list?
Every year, twice a year, I teach a class on color and design. In the preparations for the class I compile a list of books that I have found to be integral in my pursuit of color knowledge. It is a very long list (12 pages) so I decided to pick eight books that I think are important for those who are looking to grow their knowledge and understanding of color.
1). A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
2). Color and Human Response by Faber Birren
3). Color Psychology & Color Therapy by Faber Birren
4). Color Graphics; The Power of Color in Graphic Design by Karen Triedman and Cheryl Dangel Cullen
5). Colour/Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay
6). A Perfect Red by Amy Butler Greenfield
7). Living With Color by Deryck Healy
8). Designing Across Cultures-How to Create Effective Graphics for Diverse Ethnic Groups by Ronnie Lipton
I would love to hear about your favorite color books. Are any of these books on your “must read” list?
What books would you include in your top ten list of color books?
For my complete list of books sign up for my next Color/Design course in to be held in Burbank, January 2014.
September 19, 2013 § 10 Comments
September 19, 2013
If you ask me who was the first person to start the personal color movement I would say it was Susan Caygill, based in San Francisco.
Now long gone, Susan first started her business in the 60s. I only met her once, briefly in the 80s, when I lived in Los Angeles, but my memory of her at that time is still so vivid.
Susan had a certain way about her. She was definitely not one to be ignored with her fabulous head of red hair and the way she carried herself. Susan was truly a cut above in her approach to personal color and she commanded top dollar to share her knowledge with you. She had quite the following and it would not be out of the ordinary to be in a consultation with Susan with a few of her staunch supporters in tow. Creating a beautiful personalized color palette was often a group effort.
As the personal color movement was slowly gaining steam it was not uncommon to have the support of other ladies who were enjoying their new found color confidence. As I was working on my book, Alive With Color, which was published in the early 80s, I too had the support of some wonderful women who all shared my love of color. This was a wonderful time and I have some lifelong friendships as the result, a few of whom I mentioned in the dedication of my first book, which is now out of print but has recently been updated as More Alive With Color.
Even though the Seasonal color palette is not my approach to personal color, we both share the belief that they key to finding your best colors is found in one’s hair, skin, and eyes, as well as emotional attachments to color. I devised the Color Clock system based on the time of day as I felt it was more inclusive of those countries that don’t experience winter or fall and is more inclusive of the hues found most frequently in natural settings.
Personal coloring isn’t about rigid rules. I never say that you can’t wear colors simply because they aren’t in your personal Colortime palette. I encourage my clients and readers to embrace all colors with an objective eye. This is one of the most important factors that has helped me most in my color career.
It is never too late to have your colors done. If you are interested in learning your personal colors, or having your colors done professionally, or want to become a personal color consultant, please visit my website morealivewithcolor.com.
Have you had your colors done? Are those colors still working for you? What is your Colortime?