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  About the author  
Rachel Perls is an IACC-certified color consultant. In her business, Hue,
Rachel works on residential, business, product dev- elopment, and marketing projects to help her clients determine the perfect color palette for the job. Rachel is also an accomplished fine artist, commissioned for her pet portraits and murals; all of which utilize color psychology as a distinctive characteristic. To draw attention to the impact color has on our daily lives, Rachel authors a blog dedicated to color.

Rachael's Blog


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An Interview with Christy Ann Coppola, Founder of Coppola Design "An Insider's View on Color for Graphic Design" By Rachael Perls
I'd like to introduce you to Christy Ann Coppola, a very talented graphic designer. Christy Ann is the principal and creative director of Coppola Design, a visual communications firm located in Albany, New York.

Would you give an example or two of a project where color played a major role in the development of a design?

Color is always an important part of the design solution. Color helps communicate a message, so we always pay close attention to what we are trying to say, and color is always taken into consideration. This wedding invitation, for example, uses bright colors which represent the couple’s spirited personality, and matched the fiesta-style reception. (This invitation and corresponding website, by the way, was designed for yours truly.)

For marketing materials developed for Lake George Opera's performance of Our Town, we used muted earthy tones for the print advertising. It's a very slow paced, somber story, with the classic opera themes of love and loss. We used a dark brown patterned background, and the image of a singular wooden ladder. These visuals helped communicate the plot line, as well as the time period. The theme of the opera would have been less effective if we used a bright happy color scheme.

Currently, we are developing a logo for a large symposium about natural products in the pharmaceutical business. The identity needs to capture the idea of nature, and science. We are using a color palette of greens and blues. In this case, the green, which is a fresh, happy hue, represents nature. The blue we specified, is a medium-bright hue, not too masculine, not too feminine, represents the pharmaceutical aspect of chemical compounding. The design solution, which is both organic and scientific, combined with the colors we chose, help to evoke the dual focus of the subject the symposium will address. Our goal is that the logo will be universally appealing to a variety of audiences in the medical sector.

When you are figuring out a color palette for a brand identity or marketing piece for a business, how do you determine what colors work best? What's your process?

We explore several aspects of a project when determining colors. First and foremost,

* What is the product or service we are marketing?
* Who is the audience?
* What message are we sending out?

We also think about color trends.

* What is popular right now?
* What colors would appeal to different age groups?
* The industry is also something to consider; food, fashion, music, corporate?

All these things play a part in choosing colors.

For this school's annual report, bright, youthful, nurturing colors were used.

illustration by Jessica Allen

Since colors have a personality, we want to make sure that the colors we specify for a design will be appropriate. Will it fit the genre of both the products we are marketing, and the audience we are speaking to. When I think happy, I think orange or yellow, passion I think red or purple, sadness I think brown or gray. Take, for instance, this fundraising golf event invitation in friendly, outdoorsy, spring greens:

Blue could be considered the "safest" colors, in that it is almost genderless and universally appealing. It's a very popular choice for financial institutions. We developed an identity for a large, international law firm, and we specified a classic slate blue for the logo, paired with a light, neutral beige. For a corporate client dealing with sensitive subjects, this was a very successful solution for them.

What would you say is the biggest challenge when choosing colors for a design project?

The biggest challenge is making sure the client trusts what we provide is the right solution. We as design professionals have to marry what the client wants and at the same time hold true to the brand. Often times, we have a client tell us they "don't like" red, or, "the CEO's wife hates green." Clients need to understand that color should be evaluated within the context of its usage, and put aside any personal attachment.

Thanks, Christy Ann!

© 2007 All images copyright Coppola Design.
© 2007 Rachael Perls

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