Red — Color Monday

“Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.” —Wendell Berry

Red is a warm color. It’s the first color of the spectrum — rich, vibrant, deep. More often than not, related to blood, to fire, to vitality, life, energy and warmth. It’s the symbolic color of the heart and a strong call to action and activity.

On a psychological level, red represents the joy of living, enthusiasm, aggression, sexual drive, sexual desire, passion and the need to conquer.

Red is also a magical and religious color — it’s used a lot in Christianity and is the traditional color of the devil. In alchemy red is the color of the Philosopher’s Stone; and in days of antiquity red was thought to protect one from danger.

Red is a color of contradictions, as so many things are in this life. It symbolizes love, and therefore life, and it also symbolizes war and death, so through the color red we often tie the meaning of life and of death together.

Red is one of the three primary colors — blue and yellow are the other two. It’s the most visually dominant color and suggests speed and movement — an interesting aside, red cars are stolen more often than any other color car.

The most physical color of the spectrum, red suggests the very ebb and flow of life. It is the most viscerally alive hue, the symbolic color of the heart, strong-willed and expressing strong emotions. It may command us to stop but at the same time encourages movement. Psychologically, red is a call to the adrenal glands to get the body and senses activated. —Color: Messages and Meanings by Leatrice Eiseman

How do you use red in your work, in your branding or in a design project? Do you like your reds on the orange side, or on the pink-y side? Do you like a true red, a fire engine red? My favorite fire engine red is a 20C 100M 100Y 0K mix. No black in my red to muddy the brilliance. I tend to like the clear reds, the earthy reds, the bold reds.

Red is a bold statement, a centerpiece, it grabs our attention. Designing with red can be a challenge because it tends to take center stage, and eclipses the colors around it. Next week, I’ll talk about some ideas for how to use red, and begin the process of getting comfortable with this bold color.

“Red is the ultimate cure for sadness.” —Bill Blass