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A Guide To Finding Your Inner Color Personality

By: Jude Stewart | February 25, 2010

A few weeks ago, a friend and fellow color nut mailed me a well-thumbed copy of The Lüscher Color Test, knowing I’d relish the daffy whiff of palmistry tied to color. But the book isn’t a tongue-in-cheek Teutonic spoof like Pentagram’s What Type Are You? book. The Lüscher Color Test was designed to help psychoanalysts speed up the introductory conversation with their patients, and the book came emblazoned with poker-faced warnings demanding seriousness: 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 my respect for the Ouija-Spooks or whatever and recklessly got down to the middle-school business of Getting to Know the Real Me.

Here’s how it works: you lay out the Lüscher cards, shading your most to least favorite colors from left to right. You do this twice for good measure, then employ a number-to-color-coding system to check how various number-combos respectively reveal your “existing situation,” “stress sources,” “restrained characteristics,” “desired objective,” and “actual problem” (presumably your reason for seeking a therapist in the first 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 cornering the market on color personality tests. At the nuttier end of this continuum is Mary Weddell’s Creative Color: An Analysis and Synthesis of Useful Color Knowledge, a guide to nudging along one’s aura by meditating on color. Especially felicitous is the Quick Color Remedies section: you can cool a fever with ice blue, alternating with dusty rose, or fix a sewing mistake with lemon yellow. A poisonous snake bite calls for “silvery ice blue, blue lavender and get medical attention fast. 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 your work personality, a more literal use of color than in the classic career-guide title, What Color is Your Parachute? In the harder-hitting arenas of science, researchers at the University of Manchester have just released the Color Wheel, which is used to diagnose anxiety or depression in patients. It’s not clear how culturally diverse the patient-pool was who helped set the color taxonomy—a Chinese patient choosing red isn’t signaling their anger so much as a strong sense of well-being. Still, even as a limited concept the Color Wheel is an intriguing advance.

Design has its own color-prognosticators. Pantone’s Colorstrology tool pairs users with a personality-profile and color-swatch based on your birthday (complete with Pantone number, of course).

For sheer inventiveness and cheek, you have to enjoy Claudia Cortes’ site Color in Motion. Each color is embodied as a knobbly-kneed paper doll, the potential “star” of a movie of your devising. You can watch pre-made movies exploring the individual character of each color; make your own movie pulling together actors and props (I put Orange-Man into an existential farce involving a tiara, a frog and Windex); or make your own animated kaleidoscope of color. Spend your next coffee break with this one; it’s refreshing and well worth it.

When coffee-break’s over, online color quizzes can help you perfect your next project’s color palette, too. Hunch offers an ultra-simple one: answer a few questions about the personality to be colored (your brand or yourself), and you’ll get a surprisingly spot-on recommendation that, if not totally perfect, will at least get your creative motor running. (Hunch doesn’t limit its color quizzes to palettes, either. Find the ideal color for your car, hair, nails, clothes, or wedding—and, of course, your overall color personality.)

Color-palette generators are a capacious category worth exploring in their own post. Once you’ve decided if you’re a winter or summer complexion and mapped yourself to a specific hex code, watch this space for a guide to the hands-down best color sites for designers.