What’s your favorite color?

Paula Scher answers the question 'What is your favorite color?'
I use to have a favorite color. It was purple.
And then my favorite colored changed, and it was green, then blue, then back to green, a brief stint in red, so on and so forth.

At one point during college when I was actually meeting better known designers from time to time I thought it would be fun to collect their favorite colors. By which I mean I planned to ask them when I met them what their favorite color was. I thought it was a simple enough exercise, never intending to be anything more than a brief return to younger days when things were simple and you had a favorite color. So when a few friends and I took a 500 mile road trip to visit Chicago and attend a small design conference in Dekalb I took the opportunity to ask Paula Scher what her favorite color was, and was somewhat frustrated with her answer.

I might be paraphrasing but her answer was that “You can’t separate one from the others.”

I was so disappointed. The first time I’ve gotten to ask someone outside of school and the answer is so…so…professional and academic. I didn’t want that answer; I didn’t want to be told that we can’t focus on one color to the detriment of the others, that we have to be open to what best solves the problem we’ve set to visually solve. I knew all of these things. What I wanted was a quick reaction to an elementary question. I wanted to say that on November 22, 2003 Paula Scher claimed her favorite color was _____. I wanted that to be my first entry in the collection of Designers’ Favorite Colors, but I was rebuked in my quest. There was no simple, single color.

I kind of gave up on trying to gather answers from other designers/artists after that, assuming I would likely get the same response from all of them. I figured they would all want to sound professional and academic to some kid they didn’t know personally and not want to sound like they endorsed any single color. Bunch of buzzkills. Humph.

Page of notes taken during SEEK Conference

I came back to this question the other day for some reason (I’m not sure why) and I realized I can’t definitively answer it. I don’t think I have a favorite color anymore; do you? I can get excited by the warmth of a good yellow-orange, the wonderful complexity of purples, the calm pace of earthy browns, a vivid red-orange, a lively bright green, and so on and so on. Basically, color is great and the diversity of color is better, and in my chosen profession I fully intend to make use of them all. I guess in the end, all I can say is that I’m fortunate to not be colorblind in any way, and to be able to see the details of color hues as well. I completely agree with Ms. Scher that from a professional standpoint we can’t focus on any single color, but I still like the idea of the small simple question of your favorite color; even if that ‘favorite’ is decided on by virtue of being your favorite sports teams primary color, or the color of your sweethearts eyes, your child’s eyes, the color of your favorite pair of pajamas, or just whatever color you might choose to make your personal website. It’s not a serious question and it doesn’t have to direct the choices you make in design or in any other life decisions really, just answer it with the first thing that comes to mind.

Teal.

5 Comments
  1. My favorite color is red. It shows up in my life constantly, and all around me, and when attempting to frame a photograph, if I find a way to emphasize red in that photo, I generally tend to do so (even subconsciously). I especially love red in the sky, as it feels like such a strong color when it overshadows everything as opposed to the normal gentle blue and it makes the sky a very central focus when present.

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  2. I was having this discussion with a friend just the other day. He asked my favorite color and I thought about it and realized that I don’t have one. As artists, I suppose we see colors more as tools than a thing to like. Ya know, a craftsman can’t really say that he prefers his buzzsaw over his hammer because they have different uses for different situations, and really, color is the same thing. The right color for a situation is entirely dependant on context, so in some circumstances blue may be the best color in the world, other times it may be the worst.

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  3. Today’s favorite color is the beautiful reddish brown of bongo fur.

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  4. After years of working with kids-the human kind- I have been asked almost every work day what my favorite color is. I cheat and say I have two favorite colors: green and yellow. the color of the warm sun on the grass on a majestic day full of life and happiness. Sometimes I say blue because I am wistful for my youth in Maine while I was in the Coast Guard and the sea and the lakes of Maine have so many different hues of magical blue. Then there is the color of pink and orange; when i say that the little guys are affronted and ergo precious time can be lost, so I rarely say that. Nonetheless, when you get up, long before the sun comes up, and it is the darkest dark, you look to the eastern horizon and you are not sure, and then you are. The morning chill bites a little on the cheek.Then take a long sip of hot coffee and suddenly a sliver of the sky turns gentle pink and soon orange is added to the mix and I feel at one with the Universe. Actually i just say green and yellow and I tell the lil tykes its because of my favorite soccer team the Tampa Rowdies wore green and yellow and that suffices.

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