Monday, October 27, 2014

Color Me Good: My Guide to Color in a Neutral World

I love color. It makes me happy and it can also make you happy. Whether it is at home or work, I surround myself with color. Most people I come across are either afraid of color or play it safe. Color is such a matter of taste that homeowners trying to sell a home are often told to keep their wall colors neutral to attract the most people. And although that may be true when trying to sell a home, in design what matters is how you can use color to communicate a message to your target audience. Today, I'm sharing my personal tips on how I use color for a client and for life. 

Research, research, research
I can't say it enough, every design for me starts with a little bit of research. My research can include talking to the client or visiting websites to get an idea of the target audience. Get to know your audience, older people won't be able to see dark on light. The youngsters are drawn to primary and saturated colors. Invite people to view your work. I do this especially if I think they're my target audience.  It's best to ask more than one person, that way you can receive more than one opinion since color is so subjective. Here's a useful infographic which tells you about the psychology behind color to help you make informed decisions.

When in doubt use neutrals
I don't advocate the total use of neutrals. I don't only think is boring but I also think is just a "cop-out." I know there are times when you're just in a rut and in a rush and in those times, I recommend using a combination of neutrals with a non-neutral.

Build a color library
We know there are certain color combinations which are safe like using complementary colors like green and red or analogous colors. But there's another way to find color combinations that work, you can visit for some inspiration or get your color combinations directly from your environment. When you see a color combination that works, take a picture and save your colors in a library of your own. Use photoshop to your advantage; if there's a color you must use, combine it with others by laying it over others using filters. Using these tips will save you time when you have a rush project.

Live the colors
Don't be afraid. I personally do this. I live the colors. I am constantly trying color combinations with what I wear and at home. This is safer than using it on a project and finding out that it just doesn't work for your client. (Though this can happen no matter what you do, like I said it's so subjective)

So the last thing I have to say is to forget everything I said, forget about color psychology, color theory...forget everything and follow your intuition. The less constraints the more creative you can be. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What I've Learned from My Son About Creativity

As parents we rule the world for a brief period in our children's lives. I'm guessing it will be about ten years for me. In his brief one year of existence, my son has managed to teach me more about life at a fast pace than I have learned in 30 something years.. These might not be lessons you haven't seen before, however, they're impressive when you see them work in a kid. I know we're not all blessed with children so I'm sharing this as a reminder to self and for those who don't have daily experiences with children.

Lesson #1: Embrace the Happy Accident

One day I watched my son slip and slide as he walked over flash cards he'd spread all over the living room floor. He didn't quite fall. I'm guessing he liked the slide experience as he continued to make it happen again, again, and again--until he fell. His experience taught me not to dwell too long on mistakes and to embrace accidents. While I don't always do this, his experience is a reminder that we can learn from everything.

Lesson#2: Less Is More

This cliche phrase applies to my son's "relationship" with his toys. Through watching him, I learned that the less a toy can do, the more it encourages creativity. Through using an object without a specific form of usage, my son is able to be creative to be entertained. For him, a box is a step stool, a car, a shoe, skates, and a drum; while an electronic drum is just an electronic drum. His idea of a toy taught me that tools can influence our level of creativity. Although  a computer can help us accomplish our job, it can also be a huge impediment when it comes to creativity. Because computers can do so much, they have the potential of becoming a crutch.

Lesson#3: Don't Stare, Just Gawk

You've seen them. Babies and toddlers stare at YOU. Okay sometimes, they just GAWK. I'll admit it's embarrassing for me when my son stares because I live in New York but I know it's part of his learning experience. I'm sometimes surprised when he does something I haven't seen before and I certainly haven't taught him. Children learn by watching everyone and so should we as adults. Forget, about norms and just stare and see the intricate details. Watching someone perform their job gives us insight and may help us get in their shoes even for just a few minutes.

I have loads more to learn and I'm looking forward to many more years of lessons.