“If it’s purple, someone’s gonna die”

Have you ever wondered what colors say? How they speak to our conscious and unconscious mind influencing how we feel? Well Patti Ballantoni, artist and former teacher at the School of Visual Arts in New York, explains the affects of color on human behavior in her book “If it’s purple, someone’s gonna die.” I’ve been re-reading it lately (I skimmed it once before) and thought I’d share a little bit of insight. 

(All pictures and quotes come from this book: “if it’s purple, someone’s gonna die”)


“Bright red is like visual caffeine.” It intensifies energy leads to passion/zeal. Be careful, if you are passionate about an argument it can become intense anger or frustration. So it is often used in association with both love (valentine’s day) and evil (sauron).

“Yellow is a contrary color.” Yellow extremely easy to spot and often signifies caution. In nature we often see it on poisonous amphibians and insects. We tend to carry that over into traffic signs and such. 
“Blue can be a tranquil pond or a soft blanket of sadness. It is quiet and aloof.” That sums it up pretty well. It’s association is reflected in the saying “feeling blue” (which means sad). And the softness of it can have a calming effect on people. It’s great for painting babies rooms or, you know, your opponents locker room (thats an interesting sports story you can look up).
The book goes on with information about orange, green and purple as well as differences in shades (dark vs light, bright or pastel). It also gives examples of how this knowledge of colors is used in films to visually inform the audience (which is where you’ll find the inspiration for the title).
Since this post is barely enough to scratch the surface. I would definitely recommend reading the book for a more comprehensive/better understanding (especially if you are involved in any form of visual arts). 
I hope you found this interesting. 


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