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!
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!
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?
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.
August 19, 2013 § 7 Comments
August 19, 2013
How many times have you heard that “gray is the new black“, or “brown is the new black” or even “red is the new black”? I can tell you that in my professional career I have heard this said season after season. The truth is black is a constant, staple, mainstay, and essential to every wardrobe.
I just roll my eyes when I hear comments like these because black is part of the color foundation of material society.
Black is here and never went anywhere and won’t be going any time soon.
However, earlier this week I was going through my archives and found that I, at one time, had indeed written: “Black is Back!” for the first edition of a newsletter that I edited as the newly-appointed executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. But it was at a time (1986) when black had truly had been diminished for a short time, at least, interior and fashion-wise and was coming back in full force. The following is an excerpt that includes comments from some of the designers (fashion and interior) that I spoke with who shared their thoughts about black.
“Black has become the greatest neutral, it brings an accent point into a space. To me, black is a very exciting and lively hue. I believe it is also powerful and authoritative.”-Vicente Wolf of Patino-Wolf Associates.
Donna Karan believes black provides the perfect foundation upon which to assemble a wardrobe or single outfit. Black defines the silhouette and goes with everything. Like a painter’s canvas, it is the essential backdrop on which to build.
Designer Halston comments: “Black is the most classic and eternal-it is all colors. Black cannot be penetrated. It is the ultimate color in high fashion.” He states he could use it all the time. There is no replacement. The most important and interesting piece in his collection is always black. He likes to work while wearing black because it does not compete with other colors. As long as he has been in the industry, black has always been his number one seller.
The dichotomy of black is also shown through historical happenings. The Reagans, Princess Di and Prince Charles have helped to make black-tie formality fashionable again. At the opposite end of the social scale, young people, from beatniks to rockers to punks, have adopted black as a symbol of the negation of a society.
Whether the ultimate in chic, or in the expression of adolescent defiance, black wields a powerful psychological force in the current world of design and color.
These sentiments about black are just as true today as they were more than 25 years ago!!
What role does black play in your wardrobe? Do you use black in your decor?
August 9, 2013 § 2 Comments
August 9, 2013
The color wheel is the basis of all color combinations. This circular arrangement of the spectrum visually illustrates the basic principles of color. That is part of what makes this cartoon color infographic from Slate Online Magazine (click the link at the bottom), so wonderful.
As most people are familiar with the color wheel it makes perfect sense to color code cartoon characters, especially if you are looking to create a space for your child or inner child, the color wheel is a great place to start.
As a parent, a visual like this could make quick work of (re)decorating your child’s personal space. Even if your child’s favorite character hasn’t made the cut on this graphic you can still draw inspiration from this cartoon color wheel or any color wheel.
It is really important for children to have input into the color schemes of their rooms. It’s a wonderful exercise in creativity and a real confidence booster in their ability to do this. In addition, it really helps to set the stage for their participation in color and design projects when they get older.
It has been said that the greatest of all inventions is the wheel. I would say that the color wheel is next. For most people, much of color “knowledge” is based on instinctive responses, cultural conditioning, and those aspects of color that we seem to absorb without much conscious thought. yet there is a great deal we can learn about color that is based on certain artistic and harmonious concepts.
July 31, 2013 § 2 Comments
July 31, 2013
I was perusing the Huffington Post when I spotted the story (link at the bottom) on vintage travel posters and was reminded of some of the wonderful posters that we came across when we were doing research for my latest book Pantone The 20th Century in Color.
There is something magically transportive in seeing these fantastic illustrations of life in far away places. The colors, mood, and feeling all come together to entice the eager traveller to get away. The following is an excerpt from the book that can be found in a section addressing the colorful 1920s called “Destinations.”
Though post-WWI nationalism made international travel a little more complicated, improvements in train and ship lines gave it a stylish sense of luxury and adventure. The forward march of technology also made speed part of the thrill.
Graphic designers did their part to build desire for cities like Paris and London with elegant posters that glamorized both destinations and their inhabitants-who all seemed to wear the latest fashions. Resorts like Nice and Vichy also benefitted from such marketing: resort towns that relatively few had heard of became worldwide household names.
The color language found in travel posters of the day frequently employed the coppery tones of suntans and the warm neutrals of sand and sunlight. Silvery greens gave elegant life to oceans and rivers, and olives and browns to the landscape.
July 16, 2013 § 1 Comment
July 15, 2013
For most people a green path leads inevitably to thoughts of nature. Mother nature painted more green on earth than any other color. It is the hue of foliage, grass, and growing plants; of graceful sheltering trees, dappled meadow and clinging vines; the shade of forest and jungle. It is the color of the country as opposed to the city; the romance of Robin Hood, wood urchins, elves, gnomes, and leprechauns; the pride of the Irish patriot and St. Patrick’s Day.
The sight of green is inexorably linked to the sense of smell-freshly mown lawn, pine needles, and wet leaves after a sudden summer shower, a splash of lime and a crushed sprig of mint. Because our sense are intertwined, scents and colors are inevitably tied, one sense suggesting a specific color to another. We can look at a bottle of perfume and sense how it will smell before we sniff it. We can’t help but associate a green fragrance with freshness and nature.
Most everyone knows how our endorphins kick in when we do something physical, like taking a walk in the woods filled with greenery. And there is much evidence to support the effect of green around us, including studies that tell us that being surrounded by green encourages us to breathe slowly and deeply, slowing the production of stress hormones. We certainly all need that in today’s fast-paced world.
The Japanese have been using a technique called “Shinrinyoku” or “forest bathing.” It’s not about taking a bath in the forest in the usual sense, but more about encouraging healthy lifestyles and reducing stress. Experts in that country also believe that forest bathing can improve the immune system. So it’s not just about eating your greens, but surrounding yourself with green—a worthy prescription for well-being.
June 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
June 27, 2013
I have been seeing more articles about personal shopping gaining in popularity and since that “attaches” itself to color/image consulting, I thought it would be a great time for me to talk about how I got my own consultation business rolling.
When I first started, I did various aspects of personal image and color consulting. I found out that once you have a client in one area and they develop a confidence in your abilities to help them, you can offer them other services, such as closet organizing (and who doesn’t need that!?), even color in their interiors. They, in turn, can recommend you to friends to keep a consulting service growing. All of this can fall under one umbrella and eventually expand into color consulting for consumer products, as it did for me. Training is necessary to hone these specific skills, but it can start very simply with personal/image consulting and/or personal shopping.
Dana Hall, Divisional VP of Sales and Service at Holt Renfrew stores in Canada, shares some thoughts on personal shopping. “The most important aspect of personal shopping is the relationship and trust built between the client and the staff, Hall says. She recalls instances where personal shoppers visited a client’s house to go through their existing wardrobe, sent merchandise to a customer at their office or home, hosted a private designer appearance, or attended a fashion shows with clients.”
It is through this kind of trust that other opportunities could arise. As has been the case with me.
While the link is mostly about department store services, personal shopping is a job opportunity that could lead to doing color consulting, closet organizing, expanding contacts or eventually going out on your own.
Color informs, brings instant comprehension, calls attention, delivers information, and creates an identity. This is true in all aspects of life whether personally or on a larger scale for product development.
Do you have a passion for color? Have you ever considered a career in color consulting?
May 23, 2013 § 3 Comments
May 23, 2013
This is really exciting news. I wonder how long it will be before we see the practical application of this new blue pigment. Some laboratory testing involves outcomes that are not always planned. The following is from a northwestern university very close to my home state of Washington.
“An accidental discovery in a laboratory at Oregon State University has apparently solved a quest that over thousands of years has absorbed the energies of ancient Egyptians, the Han dynasty in China, Mayan cultures and more – the creation of a near-perfect blue pigment.
Through much of recorded human history, people around the world have sought inorganic compounds that could be used to paint things blue, often with limited success. Most had environmental or durability issues. Cobalt blue, developed in France in the early 1800s, can be carcinogenic. Prussian blue can release cyanide. Other blue pigments are not stable when exposed to heat or acidic conditions.
But chemists at OSU have discovered new compounds based on manganese that should address all of those concerns. They are safer to produce, much more durable, and should lead to more environmentally benign blue pigments than any being used now or in the past. They can survive at extraordinarily high temperatures and don’t fade after a week in an acid bath.”
Click the link below for more information.