Sunday, October 6, 2013

Spewing Rainbows

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Continuing on my color rant, I recently sent my resume to Lisa Frank, who was holding an open call for designers. While I don't actually expect to hear from this multimillion dollar corporation that has cashed in on flying unicorns and psychedelic flowers since the early '80s, I sent them a link to my portfolio and a cover letter that was mostly about rainbows. What appeals to me about Lisa Frank is not that she built a corporation based on her personal aesthetic (although that must be nice, right?!) or that her designs are reminiscent of simpler times when trapper keepers ruled the classroom, but that she clearly has never said, "I don't like that color." Similarly, she has no hard and fast rules about the way color should be (why not give dalmatians gradating rainbow spots?).

A coworker recently told me that my green growth-themed logo with a leaf was all wrong because that color and symbol stood for environmentalism. Perplexed, the only thing I could think to say was, "Well what else stands for growth?!" Our initial comments weren't the greatest examples of thinking outside the box, but the scenario made me realize that we both were outrageously limiting the scope of color (and symbol). He was arguing that a color/symbol only had one meaning; and I was arguing that meaning could only be interpreted one way. I promise never to do it again!

Sure, colors represent things on psychological and cultural levels. The blue room calms us down and we stop at red stop signs and stoplights… but that's not the end of it.

Do you feel calm?
Because I'm way stressed for this guy.

Do you feel like slowing down?
Me neither.

Here's my proposal: Instead of worrying about "confusing" an audience with color and wrongly assuming that colors are already assigned meaning, let's consider how any and all colors can amplify messages. If dolphins can be hot pink, why can't your logo go beyond the expected?