Color Lesson: Black

Black…the deepest depths.

Every few years, some fashion “authority” decrees that black is back! I didn’t know it had gone away. Was it skulking in the shadows for several seasons? Waiting to pounce on any unsuspecting victims? Black truly never goes away.

Black was defined as that which is destitute of light or whiteness; the darkest color, or rather a destitution of all color. Interestingly, the word destitute implies sadness. Black was thought of as gloomy and heavy. It was the total negation of color, yet in real life, black wields a strong psychological presence. Black became the symbolic color of social statements such as “black is beautiful” in the 60s. For several decades before that, it was also the color that extolled nonconforming lifestyles such as “bohemians”.

No longer the color cloaked in fearful darkness, black has become the color most often worn after dark. It is more worldly-wise and sophisticated, the shade most worn to cocktail parties and black tie events.

Black is perceived as all-powerful and empowering. It is the color in packaging that consumers see as “worth more”. It is stylish, contained, modern, and yet classic.

The combination of black and white always expresses extreme opposites. Symbolically, the ultimate connection is something that all humans can relate to as in the cover of night vs. the light of day. They are the alpha and the omega, the yin and yang.

The visibility factor of black against white in print, or vice versa, is indisputable. The final authority that verifies the ultimate truth is often expressed by “I want to see it in black and white”.

Color Associations:
• Positive: Powerful, elegant, sophisticated, classic, strong, nighttime, stylish, modern
• Negative: Depressions, death, mourning, underworld, evil, oppression, menacing


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