On Thursday, February 9th, I attended a lecture, “Color Matters: Introduction to Color Theory”, by Ivy Stevens-Gupta, a painter and marketing consultant. The presentation, which took place in the Orvis Auditorium, had a particular emphasis on the science of color -where color can have significant effects, the psychological effects of color on human emotions, and the symbolism of color across different cultures.
Stevens-Gupta began with a talk on why everyone in visual media should learn color theory. She listed seven reasons why, including some I hadn’t thought of – the idea that color use could discourage or upset people had occurred to me, but I had never thought of applying it in commercials specifically designed to dissuade consumption, such as smoking ads. Those colors, in film, could also be applied in moody scenes to create a more unsettling effect instead of using representative content. Stevens-Gupta also touched on the creation of color harmony, and mentioned that certain formulas –complimentary colors, triads, analogous colors- could create failproof color combinations in combination with weight balancing. I had known about those, but hadn’t realized that they worked for every combination that they created. Applying that in character or costume design could allow for more interesting and harmonious color choices, especially in tandem with misé-en-scene.
A large portion of the lecture was dedicated specifically to the effects of colors and their meanings across cultures, especially if two countries had different meanings for the same color. For example, in the United States, the color yellow connotes cowardice, but in China, it typically represents heroism. The color pink can slow the endocrine system, and blue makes people feel more secure. Even being aware that the same colors can have different meanings in different places can reduce mistakes in color symbolism, especially in international films and advertisement.
And, as an advertiser, Stevens-Gupta also talked about how color affects the effectiveness of advertisement. Again, certain colors can discourage consumers from buying ‘harmful’ products, but certain colors can entice them into buying more products, and color in general makes people recognize ads 26% more often than plain black-and-white. As such, while black and white has its applications, using color at all in a work can make those who see it much more likely to remember it.