When it comes to art - painting, writing, advertising - everything starts with a white page. The work is to vanquish the white, but to do so in a way that's never been done before. There are as many ways to get rid of the white as there are novels, paintings and banner ads on Earth. Some do it better than others.
It is, of course, the color of blood. The color of the heart, of passion, conviction, and above all, action. But red is also the color of lunacy - the end of reason. The color of arrest, the STOP sign, as well as the color of anger, embarrassment, infatuation, sin, joy, celebration, rank (the velvet rope) and royalty (the red carpet).
Publishing can be a bloody business. A passage in the recently released doorstop from Taschen Books, A History of Advertising, tells the story of how Leo Burnett brought a little extra gore into art directors' lives. In 1940 the company won the account of The American Meat Institute. After the win (its first with a million-dollar budget), three of the agency's staffers drove coast-to-coast in the Leo Burnett truck to determine the best way to get their countrymen to gnash their incisors.
Winners get a blue ribbon; losers get the blues. According to color theorists, blue is seen as trustworthy, dependable and committed. It's likely to be a man's favorite color, but women like it, too. It's the Tom Hanks of colors, true-blue and reliable. You couldn't go wrong with Big Blue. Stately institutions including Tiffany, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Chevron and AT&T made it part of their identities to reassure consumers that they'd always be there for them.
Graphic designer David Carson hasn't got the blues, but he sure knows his hues, having spent his adult life in and near the ocean. As art director of the magazine Beach Culture, the former pro surfer mixed skate and surf culture with raw typography that skimmed the edge of legibility. He really broke through with the 1992 debut of Ray Gun, a music magazine that raised hackles with its grunge typography. Carson became the most famous designer on the planet.
When Steve Pougnet ran for mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., last November, he turned to color and branding strategist Paul Haft to help him win the election with visually compelling graphics that would support his platform and forge an emotional link with voters.
The TBWA/Chiat Day/Tequila office in Los Angeles has bright yellow beams on the ceiling to make the creative teams think and work harder, jokes Justin Prough, creative director responsible for Nissan's campaigns.
Early this year, Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot and his art workshop, Art in Defense of Humanism, decided to make a statement at the Olympics in Beijing against China's human rights violations. Since overt activism was essentially banned, Galschiot, ever the artist, turned to color as a covert protest. He and his followers encouraged everyone - athletes, spectators and organizers - to wear or carry something orange in a country that revered red. The Color Orange Project garnered modest support at the Games, including from runner Usain Bolt, who wore an orange bracelet during his legendary 100-meter sprint. But sadly for ...
"I think everyone should wear more orange," my friend said, decisively, and I looked at her again, a woman with dark hair and fair skin and freckles and a slight flush on her cheeks, and I saw that she looked amazing in orange - as pretty as Kelly Kapowski on the '90s sitcom Saved By The Bell, everyone's favorite girl, sweet and glowing in a tight orange minidress, innocent in a low-cut orange unitard with a white jacket over her shoulders - orange just lit her up, my friend, I mean, though Kelly Kapowski looked pretty awesome, too.
Do you feel weak? Maybe that's because you had a Rice Krispie treat for lunch. Or maybe you're undergoing the physiological effects of pink. We don't mean to suggest that you are suffering from an eye infection, listening to "Get the Party Started," or that you're wearing a pair of sweatpants with PINK emblazoned on the rear. While you may very well be doing all of those things right now, we were hoping that the color of these pages would make you feel like a 12-year-old girl in an interrogation room.