Inspired by the cliché, “show your true colors,” this project is about perception of colors and our association with other senses and emotions.

As children, we learn to describe objects using colors. We say a hat is blue, a lion is yellow and a barn is red. We learn from Dr. Seuss that eggs are not particularly desirable when they are green, and served with ham. As we get older we learn how to use colors to describe things that aren’t objects. We say feeling blue, caught red-handed, green with envy or yellow-bellied. These clichés become part of our lexicon and often we don’t even know their origin or the back story.

I’m interested in the feelings we associate with colors. When we think of love, do we associate red? Is sadness blue? Is death black? Turns out I’m not the only one interested in this subject. Indeed, there are a whole lot of folks spending considerable resources on trying to understand what different colors mean. In fact, the psychology of color in marketing and branding is a big business that appears, to me, to be a blend of fact-based research with a certain amount of hooey. These marketers are betting the farm that a certain shade of yellow is right for Nikon and blue is the right color for Facebook.

With the help of Mr. Zuckerberg’s social media platform, I enlisted the help of friends to collaborate on this art project. I asked them to spend 10 minutes filling out an online survey that was essentially reading a word and picking a color that best relates to the word. They were told to pick the first color that popped into their minds and to not overthink. For each word, they were given a choice of nine colors: blue, red, yellow, green, orange, purple, white, gray and black, and write-ins were not allowed. The images in the True Colors project were made in collaboration with the survey participants because the survey data was used. You can hover over the large images to see the data.

I plan is to create 32 images Please check back or opt-in if you are interested in receiving occasional updates.

(click image to enlarge and hover over large image to see survey data)