A few weeks ago, a friend and fellow color nut mailed me a well-thumbedcopy of The Lüscher Color TestColor Test, knowing I’d relish thedaffy whiff of palmistry tied to color. But the book isn’t atongue-in-cheekTeutonic spoof like Pentagram’s What Type Are You? book. The Lüscher ColorTest was designed to helppsychoanalysts speed up the introductory conversation with theirpatients, and the book came emblazoned with poker-faced warningsdemandingseriousness: the system is“NOT a parlor game,” as the back cover sternly notes, and “most emphatically it is not a weapon to be used in a general contest of ‘one-upmanship.’” Naturally, I summoned all myrespect for the Ouija-Spooks or whatever and recklessly got down to themiddle-school business of Getting to Know the Real Me.
Here’s how it works: you lay out the Lüscher cards, shading yourmost to least favorite colors from left to right. You do this twice forgood measure, then employ a number-to-color-coding system to check howvarious number-combos respectively reveal your “existing situation,”“stress sources,” “restrained characteristics,” “desired objective,” and“actual problem” (presumably your reason for seeking a therapist in thefirst place). The big surprise here was a reading that was more accurate (and less universally flattering)than I cared to admit.
But Dr. Lüscher is far from corneringthe market on color personality tests. At the nuttier end of thiscontinuum is Mary Weddell’s Creative Color: An Analysis and Synthesis of Useful Color Knowledge, a guide to nudging along one’s aura bymeditating on color. Especially felicitous is the Quick Color Remediessection: you can cool a fever with ice blue, alternating with dustyrose, or fix a sewing mistake with lemon yellow. A poisonous snake bitecalls for “silvery ice blue, blue lavender and get medical attentionfast. Do not use green for it will increase the pain.”
Not all intersections between color and self are quite as superstitious.Business books like The Leap use color to clue into yourwork personality, a more literal use of color than inthe classic career-guide title, What Color is Your Parachute? Inthe harder-hitting arenas of science, researchers at the University ofManchester have just released the Color Wheel, which is used todiagnose anxiety or depression in patients. It’s not clear howculturally diverse the patient-pool was who helped set the colortaxonomy—a Chinese patient choosing red isn’t signaling their angerso much as a strong sense of well-being. Still, even as a limitedconcept the Color Wheel is an intriguing advance.
Designhas its own color-prognosticators. Pantone’s Colorstrology tool pairsusers with a personality-profile and color-swatch based on yourbirthday (complete with Pantone number, of course).
Forsheer inventiveness and cheek, you have to enjoy Claudia Cortes’ siteColor in Motion. Each color is embodied as a knobbly-kneed paper doll,the potential “star” of a movie of your devising. You can watchpre-made movies exploring the individual character of each color; makeyour own movie pulling together actors and props (I put Orange-Man intoan existential farce involving a tiara, a frog and Windex); or makeyour own animated kaleidoscope of color. Spend your next coffee breakwith this one; it’s refreshing and well worth it.
Whencoffee-break’s over, online color quizzes can help you perfect yournext project’s color palette, too. Hunch offers an ultra-simpleone: answer a few questions about the personality to be colored (yourbrand or yourself), and you’ll get a surprisingly spot-onrecommendation that, if not totally perfect, will at least get yourcreative motor running. (Hunch doesn’t limit its color quizzes topalettes, either. Find the ideal color for your car, hair, nails,clothes, or wedding—and, of course, your overall color personality.)
Color-palettegenerators are a capacious category worth exploring in their own post.Once you’ve decided if you’re a winter or summer complexion and mappedyourself to a specific hex code, watch this space for a guide to thehands-down best color sites for designers.