The Psychology of Color: Graphic Designer Insight


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In this interview, we sit down with Lindsay Winkel, one of our brilliant graphic designers, to find out why color can be a designer’s best friend.

SILVR: How do you use color in your work as a graphic designer?

Lindsay: Color is so important to a designer. We think about it in everything we do, it’s like a second language to us! In digital advertising and social media marketing, we take into account how colors affect the viewer’s interactions, not just if a color makes an ad look pretty. We gauge the success of color by how well it produces the desired outcome for the client.

SILVR: How can color influence your viewers?

Lindsay: Color is a very powerful tool.  It can affect moods or desires. Reds and yellows make people hungry- that’s why McDonald’s, Del Taco, Wendy’s, In-n-Out, and many other fast food chains created logos that feature these colors.  Blues are usually calming and soothing, while reds are full of passion and energy. Green is refreshing, and yellow is vibrant.  

Color, especially brighter hues, can be used to direct  attention to something. They are used on web page buttons, headlines, or anywhere you want to draw the viewer’s eye.  I like to use color to balance the overall feel and mood of a design. The absence of color, or a monochromatic scheme (different values of the same color), will encourage the viewer to see the overall image and focus on the shapes throughout the layout.

SILVR: So can you give us some rules about how we should be using color?

Lindsay: There are lots of rules about color- when you look at a design created by someone that doesn’t know these rules, you can tell right away.  Bright colors like orange and yellow are great for adding a pop, but shouldn’t be overused. Too much brightness can be distracting or visually confusing. Be careful to use colors that work well with each other to create harmony.

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Try using colors that are close to each other on the color wheel. Or, try using “complementary colors,” colors that are opposite to each other on the wheel. They usually play off each other to create visual interest- think of the way orange and blue, or red and green look together.  A monochromatic scheme is an option too, since it is just a combination of the same hue in different saturations, they will always look harmonious.

Another important rule to remember is that colors change depending on their surroundings. Some blues may seem really light on a dark background, but that same blue may appear a lot darker on a lighter background. Always be aware of color placement and how it will play off of other object.

SILVR: Wow! Okay so a we have a lot to learn. One more question...do you have a favorite color?

Lindsay: It changes all the time! Right now it’s a deep green.

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