Color is my favorite thing in designing. Colors can convey a message by how they are used – certain colors have positive and/or negative connotations for most people. It can be difficult to learn to use colors in a way that creates the look or feel you really want to. The old adage, “the medium is the message” comes to mind. The WHAT, you might be asking… I don’t mean a psychic when I say “medium.” I can’t really help you if you came here looking for a message from a psychic!
I’m not a psychic, and contrary to what you may think, I’m not psychotic (I admit that I could be little neurotic – but who isn’t). Ok, more about the medium…
The Medium is the Message
This is a concept proposed by Marshall McLuhan. He was considered a prophet of technology back in the 1960s. He was concerned with understanding the effects of technology as it relates to popular culture, and how this in turn affected human beings and their relations with each other. I really would love to know what he thinks about the technological revolution we have been able to experience with the way we can share things so easily through the internet.
Anyway, put simply (which is probably not a good idea for a deep concept, but here goes) McLuhan was talking about how the impact of the content or message of something created can become secondary to the type of technology used to convey it. And that what may have an effect on viewers may not be what was intended - the greatest social effect may be made by what medium the message was conveyed in. For example, no particular show on TV has ever made the impact on society that the television’s impact on our lives as a society has made. And if this doesn’t make sense, then don’t worry, it’s been debated since it was first introduced and few people – even those with far more education than I have – really can say they totally understand it.
It’s a cool concept, and it does make one think – such as what is the best way to record memories. Scrapbooks, videos, photographs, paintings – they all contain a message, but to those viewing it, the way they are created also says something. And the enjoyment of each can affect people on different levels. What is great about scrapbooks is their feeling of making something you know about or remember more permanent and something you can share with others in a tangible, lasting way.
So, back to how color is important in a scrapbook. Well, color has it’s own message and combinations of colors can affect the reactions of viewers to any artwork. I guess the best use of color would blend with a message and enhance any content, rather than conflict withit or even detract from it – ths is kind of why baby scrapbooks don’t usually use a lot of black! That wouldn’t really convey the whole soft, approachable, lovable baby concept!
Let Colors Speak to You:
Red - fire, hot, blood. This is an emotionally tense color. It is also a color that tends to overpower other colors – it becomes more prominent or in the foreground, so it needs to be used with caution. As it is associated with passion, romance and sensuality. it makes sense that it is used with Valentine’s Day themes. Changing the red to a darker color can convey anger or violence too – and with more brown in it, the association with fall is made. Pink is the color of love, feminity and friendship, but it can also convey passivity.
Orange – energetic because of the combination of red and yellow and sunshine, due to it’s being part yellow. This is another attention getting color that may need to be used sparingly.
Yellow - happiness, joy, warmth & energy. This evokes cheerful feelings.
Green – harmony, growth, nature, and money. But it also has been used to suggest jealousy.
Blue - calm, trust, loyalty, dependability. This color is often used in association with technology products. This also explains the blue suit in business which is worn to convey authority and trust. Lighter shades are used to give a feeling of tranquility and softness (like baby blue).
Purple – blue’s stablilty and red’s energy combines in this color to produce a powerful color which symbolized royalty, luxury, nobility, wisom and dignity. It also is associated with magic and mystery – perhaps because of it’s rarity in nature. Ligher shades, such as lavender evoke feeling of nostalgia. Darker purples can seem moody or gloomy.
White – purity, light, goodness. It is also used to convey coolness. It can become to sterile when used without other colors.
Black – mystery, death, power, formality. As a color, this one recedes away from the eye, which makes colors used on the top seem to pop out or come forward more.
Combining colors is a whole science of it’s own – color theory. Designers often create color palettes to use in their designs. And interior designers do that too. Having a guideline before you start a project can help to make a pleasing combination for the finished product. That will have to be discussed more in another post though! For now, through out all your associations with favorite colors and just look at them and see what feelings you get. You may end up thinking differently about how you use colors.