The Meanings of Color


Around the world, based on where someone lives their perception of the meaning of certain colors may change. This is due to how the culture surrounding the area has used and defined the color and in turn influenced them. Other factors along with a person’s culture that can influence color perception can be age, wealth, and gender (Sherin 90). A common example of this difference is how in the west, black is commonly seen as the color of mourning while in India the color of mourning is white (Holtzschue 58). For my Digital Foundations class, the students were asked to research these cultural meanings of colors from around the world and create a color palette that describes us based off of what we learned.

In my pallette the first color I included was the color yellow. In the west, this color is commonly associated with happiness and joy. It also holds an underlying meaning of caution and in Europe it is used to show cowardice. Specifically looking at France, yellow is seen as a way to show weakness or “contradiction” which are traits commonly associated with a coward (SmarterTravel 7). I chose this color exactly for those reasons as I see myself almost covering my faults with happiness. It is like I try to cover my fear and caution with laughter and smiles quite a bit so this color really does a lot to define me in this way. This was also the only picture whose color source is not from nature. I did this because sometimes I feel as though my happiness is artificial and is only used to cover my insecurities.

The next color I used was orange to help build upon the previous. Orange is also commonly placed with the feeling of happiness just like yellow especially in the East. It is also seen as a fun and creative color in the West (26). When mixed with yellow the two colors can be used to show warmth and richness (Holtzschue 60). Not only do I try to have fun in all situations, I also try to present myself as a “warm and safe” place for my friends and family to come to when they need help. In Japanese, Chinese and Ukrainian cultures, orange is associated with bravery and strength (SmarterTravel 28). Despite the fact i fear a lot of things, when I laugh through it other see it as being brave.

After orange, I decided to use for my palate is green. Along with being associated with money, it is also seen as the color of luck and new life in the west. In many eastern and asian cultures, specifically Japan, the color green is seen to be the color of freshness and rebirth (19). Politically speaking, this color can be seen as a “bad” color, as there have been groups like the “green party” to influence this (Holtzschue 59). However in an ecology since, green is most often used to support good and natural habits and activities (59). I wanted to add this color to help convey my drive to create new ideas and my openness to fresh starts. While I am not above holding grudges, I try not to hold them for very long and am open to fix problems with others if the effort is put forth by both parties. While I do not have a green thumb, I try to do my best to help the natural world because it means a lot to me. This is also why most of my pictures used are from natural settings.

Blue is the next in line on my palate and is one of the most commonly liked color in the world. This color blue, due to the fact that it is a cool color, can be used to convey trust and conservativeness (Sherin 101). The fact that blue shows trust or calmness is a common idea around the world, especially in the west. However there are also many other places, like in the east, that see blue as the color of immortality. Middle Eastern countries also see this as the color of protection (SmarterTravel 15). Once again, I try to be the person my friends and family can turn to when they need a calming and trustful person to lean on and talk to. I also seem to take some situations quite calmly however I sometimes make mountains out of anthills.

My final color that i chose to use was a magenta like purple. Purple is seen as the color of royalty and wealth in both the East and West (23). Although in Europe and other countries to include India, it is the color of sorrow and comforting (24). Magenta on the other hand is used to show creativeness, innovativeness, imaginative and artistic ideas. As a striving artist, I believe that these ideas convey how I try to think on a daily basis. While i am not really a royal either, I try to treat myself like a queen whenever I can. Finally I try to be comforting for others like I stated before which is another reason this color relates to me.

Understanding the cultural meanings of colors around the world is not only good for future projects as an artist, but is good in the way you can come to understand and convey your ideas to others around the world. The culture someone comes from can greatly influence how they communicate color and thus how they communicate with you. So open you mind to learn this form of communication, and I am sure it will help you greatly in your coming experiences.


Holtzschue, Linda. Understanding Color: An Introduction for Designers. New York: Wiley, 2002. Print.

Sherin, Aaris. Design Elements, Color Fundamentals: A Graphic Style Manual for Understanding How Color Impacts Design. Beverly, MA: Rockport, 2011. Print.

SmarterTravel. “What Colors Mean in Other Cultures.” The Huffington Post., 26 Jan. 2016. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.


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