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.
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.