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From the Design Desk: The History of Color

I realize I'm a few days late for celebrating St. Patrick's Day, but there is no denying that the color green is everywhere this season.  Now that spring is FINALLY officially here, we're beginning to see signs of green in more than just the Chicago River. Nobody thinks of "color" as having a history.  The sky has always been blue, but it was not always described that way.  Many ancient languages didn't describe color in the same terms as we do now - describing the saturation or luminescence rather than the hue.  Because blues and purples are rarely seen in nature except in precious gems and rare minerals, they became associated with prestige and value, because the pigments took longer and were more difficult to make.  Different cultures put their own spin on the meanings and symbolism behind each color, again drawing their inspiration from to the places where those colors could be found in the natural world. Print Magazine has done a series of write-ups about French color Historian Michel Pastoureau's newest book Green: The History of a Color.  Although I haven't read the book itself, reading the articles on Print's blog are intriguing enough to make me curious.  How does one go about defining and studying the idea of a color?  It's easy to study periods and styles of art, or the history of specific mediums and materials, but color is much more of an abstract idea, largely defined by it's place and presence in nature and our own cultures.  We each give color it's own meaning and significance. How we interpret color and it's history can play an important part in how we use it in our own designs and branding.  Knowing a little bit more about the reasons why certain colors are associated with power (like reds and oranges) or why blues are seen as calming and professional can sometimes effect the way you decide to utilize them in your designs.  Green might be associated with the month of March, but there is a lot more depth to the color than you might realize!

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