Color Matters Blog

Color is always doing something. Sometimes color screams out a message, sometimes it casts a subliminal spell. So, what's happening in the world of color today? Yesterday? Tomorrow? What are the facts, what are the myths?

Designers that changed everything - and why color matters

Here’s a look at four successful designs, the artists who created them, and why color matters. I hope it inspires everyone whether you’re an amateur, pro, or just love to dabble.

Gmail logo mess fixed by amateur

gmail icon fix
When it was introduced in October, Gmail’s new logo looked off. The colors looked choppy. Now, thanks to an Evan Blass, an amateur designer, the logo was rebuilt. The new Gmail logo creates an illusion that the colors are overlapping – so blue and yellow make green, and yellow and red make orange. It makes more sense and it’s evidence of the importance of consistency in designing with color.

Covid designer

gmail icon fix
One image defines Covid-19 more than any other. There’s a lot to learn about scientific illustration and color when we look closely at the design and the designer behind the covid image.

Two medical illustrators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were assigned the task of creating something dramatic that would catch the public’s attention, a health emergency alert that would pop out of the page. In one weeks time. Designer Alissa Eckert explains that getting the colors to work correctly with the textures took much trial and error. In the end, they resulted in colors that relate to the public health warning aspect.

Her background is inspiring for all of you who are drawn to design: In her fourth year of college as a biology major, she was planning on going to veterinary school. She had taken art classes on the side but had never intended on doing it professionally, until she found out about medical illustration. She found a program at the University of Georgia and ended up at the CDC.

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Languages without words: Colors and emojis

The language of emojis is like the language of colors. They both communicate without words. This article compares their powers.

New emojis

emoji new apple

There are more than 2,823 emojis set by the Unicode Consortium and more are coming soon. Apple just announced a preview of those approved earlier this year as part of the Emoji 13.0 release by the Consortium. The dodo bird, piñata, and a ninja are three examples. Which one would you add to your vocabulary?

New colors?

electromag spectrum nanometer 24

The normal human eye can theoretically distinguish 7.5 and 10 million hues. New pigments, such as YinMn Blue, have been discovered. Also, Pantone and paint manufacturing companies frequently add new color swatches to their collections.

On the other hand, it’s scientifically impossible that a human being might see a color that’s never existed before. Our eyes can only see a specific portion of the electromagnetic spectrum because the visible colors on planet Earth originate from the light emitted by the sun. More information here and from Wikipedia.

If humans could visit a planet around another star - and depending on that star's color and the conditions of the planet’s atmosphere - a new world of color could be revealed. There’s also the possibility that evolutionary changes in human eyes will allow us to see broader areas of the light spectrum, in which case the brain will interpret this new information as a new color.

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The Colors of the Year 2020

The breaking news about all the "Colors of the Year 2020".

"First Light" – Benjamin Moore

COTY Benjamin Moore First Light

“First Light” (2102-70) is Benjamin Moore's "Color of the Year 2020". It’s a soft airy hue – not too sweet. The brand describes it as “a backdrop for a bright new decade”. Worth noting is that pink has become more of a mainstream color thanks to Millennial Pink. In this case, you might consider “First Light” as the new white. It’s blooming with potential!

"Naval" – Sherwin Williams

COTY Sherwin Williams Naval

"Naval" (SW 6244) is Sherwin Williams’ "Color of the Year 2020". It brings navy blue into a new era. The company describes it as a deep shade that “fuses the striking and bold opulence of Art Deco with the awe‐inspiring power of nature”. Naval was designed to do just that, inspiring a sense of "restfulness and tranquility" in one's home, according to a press release.

"Back to Nature" – Behr

COTY BEHR Back to Nature

Behr released “Back to Nature” as its "Color of the Year 2020" in mid- August. It’s a meadow-inspired light green hue that the brand describes as "calm, gracious, and balanced, and a way to bring the outside in.” Look closely at this complex color. It’s a very subdued olive green. Murky and peaceful.

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Test your color imagination

Have some fun and test your imagination.

Assume that each of these two colors will be “The Color of the Year”. The challenge is to reinvent the color by giving it an evocative new name. You might even consider giving it a name that embodies a sense of calm.

#1 A light pink

pink paint

The first color is a very light pink. Delicate and sheer. It’s floral like the palest pink roses; it’s sweet like the frosting on cupcakes, comforting like a stuffed bunny from childhood, and as feminine as ballet shoes.

4 pink things

If you had to reinvent this pink with a name that would get rid of all these associations – and have mass appeal – what would you name it?

Consider this: Some paint brands have named this tender hue “Pink Ground” or “Calamine” (Farrow & Ball), an almost identical color “Almost Pink” (Glidden), “Paris Pink (Portola Paints), “Pink Bliss” (Benjamin Moore), “Pink Elephant" (Behr), and coincidentally “Elephant Pink” (Benjamin Moore).

Pause for a moment. Use your imagination! It’s your turn to name it.

 Conclusion: Benjamin Moore has named this light pink “First light” - and it's "The Color of the Year 2020".

Pink First Light

If ever there were a way for pink to shed its sweet, floral, and child-like associations, this does it. On the other hand, what is the color of first light? If you google it you’ll find images like the one below: In any event, it’s all in the name and this one is genius.

Here’s how it looks in the context of nature:

First light in nature

 #2 - A subtle green

green paint

This is a tricky one. It’s a very subdued light green. Sage? Or perhaps the color of a cooked artichoke or a murky swamp? It’s definitely earthy.

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The Most Expensive Color in the World

Google "the most expensive color in the world" and you’ll get a lot of information about diamonds. For example, a blue diamond that sold for $32 million and that red diamonds are the rarest and most expensive.

Google "the most expensive pigment" and you’ll find that Lapis Lazuli is believed to be the most expensive pigment ever created. It was pricier than its weight in gold.

lapis lazuli
From the essay, "Blue," in Alexander Theroux's "The Primary Colors" -
Blue was always the most expensive pigment for painters, first of all, for supernatural beauty, perfection, and glory. The goldlike flecks of pyrite crystals in lapis lazuli have often been compared to stars in the sky.

Google “the most expensive paint in the world” and you’ll get a lot of information about paintings such as Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi that sold for $450 million. You might even see an ad for marine bottom paint that sells for over $1000 for a 3-gallon can.
YlnMn blue

There's also YinMn Blue - a brilliant blue that was accidentally discovered 10 years ago. Unfortunately it appears that many paint manufacturers – such as Shepherd –are interested in the pigment and will be bringing paints to market after commercialization.

And that brings us back to this question about colors that you can buy today:

The most expensive paint color?

Farrow and Ball paint

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Shoes and Hues

Red sole Louboutin shoes & neon yellow-green Nike Volt shoes

The power of the color of shoes made the news recently – and it left a historic mark on women's fashion and athletic gear.

Christian Louboutin just won trademark protection for its women's shoes with red soles while an appeals court also ruled the company can't trademark a design that is simply all red. In other words, they have exclusive rights to use the color red on the inner soles of their high-heeled shoes. It's like Tiffany's blue box and Cadbury's purple packaging — the red sole has been an iconic signature for these designer shoes for 20 years and they have the legal rights to it. Source

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Color Trends for 2018

trend blog banner crystal ball

"Color trends for 2018" is a challenging topic because there are trends that emerge from mass culture - and are frequently fed by media - and there are the "Color of the Year” proclamations that arise from the big business of trend forecasting.  In the first case, there’s no time limit; in the latter, it’s specific to the year. Above all else, trends get us to look at color in a new way.

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Something New to Pink About?

Pink has been all over the news recently. Some of it is powerful and inspiring but the same old dirty little lies about pink continue to be spread. We begin with color news you can’t use:

Liar Liar – The Color Wheel Is on Fire
(The same old nasty alternative facts about pink)
Cool Down Pink

pink jail

The article states: "Are you quick-tempered? Have bouts of aggression? The reason could be lack of pink in your environment! According to psychologist Daniela Spath a certain shade of pink calms the nerves, including in aggressive prisoners."

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It’s not easy being lurid green

lurid green

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The Color of Insanity

insanity color blog

Typically people ask about the color of happiness, power, and other positive attributes. When a former student asked about the color of insanity, it deserved an answer. Here are a few things to ponder:

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© Jill Morton


Pink: The Color of Shock and Awe - Olympics 2012

Olympics 2012 Pink ticket
A Guide to Color Symbolism from the author of Color Matters

How daring! The official color of the 2012 Olympics is pink. Maybe we can finally see beyond the stereotype and consider the many personalities of this compassionate color.

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Is color the key to weight loss?

Color contrasts of food and plates
Color plates experiment - Servings in ounces
The worst plate colors for different kinds of food
Blue plates curb appetite
Garish color can curb appetite
Color Consultation for Marketing & Branding in the Food Industry

Can colors curb your appetite and help you lose weight? Maybe. Could the color of a plate be a key to weight loss? A recent study says, “Yes.”

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Color Criminals - Red Gets Busted

starbucks bug juice red - cochineal
Wild salmon and farm raised salmon with colorants

Bug juice “red” made the news when it was exposed as Starbuck’s food coloring used in strawberry frapuccinos. After a public outcry – even from non-vegetarians – Starbucks announced it has stopped using it.

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At the Heart of Valentines Day

Heart Attaq painting by Jill Morton
Heart shaped Coin, Cyrene 600 BC

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Addicted to Color

Addictions - Candy, Exercise, Color

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The Colors of Fright! Black, Orange, and White

The colors of fright

We can be green with envy, turn purple with rage, see red, and feel blue.  But what about fright? What’s the color of fear? And for that matter, what about the colors of Halloween?

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