Sunday, December 26, 2010

Book Review: "COLOR: messages and meanings" by Leatrice Eiseman

A must have:

5 out of 5 Stars

This book is a great resource for all artists, but especially for graphic designers, interior designers, and commercial photographers. This book is an essential resource (it is targeted to this audience . . . especially graphic designers). I am not a graphic designer, but if I was, I know I would be referencing this book daily for inspiration and direction. I have read a couple books on color (color theory, color symbolism) and this is the best book I have read. The author, Leatrice Eiseman, has strong credentials and it shows in her book. She knows what she is talking about. The book is easy and enjoyable to read and very informative.

It starts by covering the basic colors (red, blue, brown, purple, orange, etc.) and the symbols/moods associated with those colors. She even touches on how colors effect us psychologically. At the end of a color section she lists different shades of that color along with positive and sometimes negative adjectives/symbols often associated with these colors. I found this section the most interesting. It was very informative and comprehensive. It is a very helpful reference for any artist who works in color to better understand what role color plays in sharing a message with their audience.

The next section is about color in the marketplace. This section is more about using color in the advertisement world. She focuses on creating an identity for a company and how color effects their image and reflects their mission as a company. Eiseman talks about using color as an attention grabber and using appropriate colors to fit certian ages, genders, and shopping patterns.

The next section goes into color relationships. She has a brief section about color schemes on the color wheel and the messages sent by using those schemes. Following this, she gives 20 different moods (exotic, sentimental, unique, restful, assertive, nightlife, etc.) with a brief description of the mood and associated colors. Then, on the next page, there are 20 colored squares giving examples of a dominant, subordinate, and accent color combinations that could be used to convey that mood. The part I found most impressive is at the end of the book where she has a chart of every color she used in the book and the CMYK numbers for that color! This chart is a great time saver and will help you get the exact color combination desired. It makes this book a very practical reference book.

In the last section, she covers color trends in the advertisement world and how to spot them. She briefly discusses trends in fashion, graphic design, technology, and art. She even gives specific examples of places to look.

I really loved this book. Not only are the images beautiful and pleasurable to look at, but it is packed full of information. It is the best book on color I have seen or read. I STRONGLY recommend it to anyone who works with or is interested in color theory, color relationships, or color symbolism. If you are a graphic designer, this book is a must have. It is worth every dollar spent on it!


  1. Thanks for this book review. This looks like a book I should recommend to my advanced design students this coming semester.

  2. Yes, I really think you should. It is such a valuable resource for any design student. It was a very helpful book for me.