Author: Chen Zhe Lin
Editors: Zhengze Ye and Hwi-On Lee
Artist: Gianluca Zhang
What emotion do you feel when you look at the color red? Do you feel angry or loved? How about the color yellow or blue? Colors are everywhere you look, and the same color used in different ways can cause multiple different effects. Artists, psychologists, designers, chefs and even businessmen believe that color can affect the emotion of one person. The study of color is a very important concept and idea that people need to understand, from brands, clothing, team colors, printing and other different uses of color.
Color is made out of a single wavelength that hits our retina to allow us to see a specific color. Color can be further combined to form another color. For example, you can add yellow to blue to form a green color. Colors can also cancel each other out to form a white wavelength. For example, purple cancels out the color yellow. We can use mixes of different shades of different colors to change how people think.
The effect of one color is mostly based on the individual's personal experience with a set color. For instance, someone may see the color red and be reminded of blood, violence, and murder, while someone else may see the color red and think of love, passion, and valentines due to their varying experiences with the color red in the past. Religion and local traditions may also impact an individual's view of a color. Western countries use red for Valentine's Day, Christmas and other western holidays. This differs from eastern countries, where red is typically associated with Chinese New Year, weddings and other eastern holidays. Personal experience is a big part of color psychology, which makes it difficult for companies to use color effectively.
Companies use color in its packaging, brand logo, and products. Brand logos are a big part of a company because they are the biggest symbol associated with said company. Like McDonald's, its classic big yellow “M” has a bright red background because the color red makes people more excited, energizing them while making people ready to eat food. The simple but memorable logo of McDonald's makes people eager to eat. Bumble and Snapchat are also great examples. Both companies are social apps that help you talk to other people and meet other people. They use yellow in their logo to make people feel optimism, joy, adventure, courage, and playfulness, which correspond to the purpose of their applications. The use of color is a big part of a company’s logo and what they are trying to do with their company.
Artists also use color psychology to make the viewer feel a certain way when looking at their art. You can see color psychology best in paintings. For example, the use of blue in Water Lilies by Claude Monet makes the setting look calm and relaxing. The blue in the painting enhances the natural elements of the water and the sky, and it is linked to decreasing blood pressure and slower respiration. Another way blue is used is in Pablo Picasso’s work called The Old Guitarist The blue in the painting is meant to cause the viewer to feel sorrow for the old, depressed-looking man. Artists use color to portray the emotion and feeling of the view that is seen through the painting.
Color is a very important part of our life. Looking through a window you can see many people using color in their art for their branding. If you can use color correctly, you can make the smallest thing like an outfit look better, just based on the color used. The simplest thing, from the color of a stop sign to why a cone is orange, are all important decisions that are meant to make you feel in different ways.
“Color Psychology and Its Use in Art.” Erika Lancaster-Artist, Content Creator & Online Art
Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.
“Can Color Affect Your Mood and Behavior?” Verywell Mind, 28 May 2020,
Meagher, Gordon. “The Meaning Behind Logo Colors.” Tailor Brands, 21 June 2022,