An Eye-Opening Journey

I’m fascinated with colour. But it’s a complex subject. Like the game of baseball, the more you understand it, the more you realize how little you know.

03 July 2019 Bob Hambly

Colour taps into our memories and stirs emotions. It comes with its own set of histories and cultural references. Some are universally liked, regardless of one’s geographic location or heritage. Some resonate with women more than men and vice-versa, while others have come to embody unfair stereotypes. 

If I say to you “green” – what do you imagine? A warm or cool tone? Pastel or bold? An earthy shade like olive green or something electric, like chartreuse? Shamrock, Kelly, Army or Hunter? Green can be interpreted a variety of ways. 

Each one of us has a personal relationship with colour. I bet you remember the colour of your favourite childhood bicycle or that ugly jacket your dad insisted on wearing. That love or hate of a particular colour is nestled away in your subconscious and it's not always easy to make sense of those distant rationalizations.

Gaining a better understanding of colour helps us make informed recommendations. Beyond history and culture, there are additional areas worth considering to help you hone your colour skills. The psychology of colour is an expanding area of study – isolating the emotions and meanings embodied by individual colours. Improvements to eye tracking technology is furthering our understanding of the role colour plays in how we view digital information. Also, accessibility standards are providing us with precise colour guidelines for saturation and contrast levels in digital and print applications. 

Choosing colours is, for the most part, subjective. That’s probably one of the things I like most about it. But there are times when we need to be more logic-based, just like when we propose a particular typeface or paper stock. Clients will appreciate your insights – most are in the dark when it comes to the topic. Find an entry point with colour that makes you feel comfortable and then prepare yourself for an enthralling, eye-opening journey. 

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