Colors That Inspire Creativity

By Martin Gilliard

The core colors that inspire creativity are thought to be orange and yellow:

  • Orange is said to inspire creativity and enthusiasm. 
  • Yellow is said to inspire creativity, imagination and inspiration.

However that said colors are very personal and therefore based on your individual preferences and life experiences some colors may place you in a more creative mood than others.

creative colors

(Photo Credit: Alasdair Middleton)

So when thinking about using color to inspire creativity consider various colors in turn and think about how those colors make you feel. What thoughts, memories and experiences do the colors trigger? Do they elicit a positive emotional response?

Adding Color To A Workspace

If you are adding color to a workspace to inspire creativity you have to remember that at the end of the day it is your space and should reflect your personality while also inspiring you to be creative.

There are of course many colors that you can consider so simplify the process by going back to the basics and first considering the primary colors: red, blue and yellow. These are pure colors which mean they cannot be created by combining other colors.

Next consider the secondary colors: green, orange and purple. Each of these colors can be created by combining equal amounts of primary colors.

Primary and secondary colors can all be tinted with black or white to create darker / lighter variations.

Next there are tertiary colors; these are created by an equal combination of a primary color and its closest secondary color, for example blue-purple, blue-green, yellow-green.

To Get You In A Color Choosing Mood!

To get you in the mood for choosing colors that inspire creativity here is an interesting video that displays colors that we can view around us and in nature on a day-to-day basis. The background music (noise) is a little intense so you might want to mute your speakers!..


Research On Colors That Inspire Creativity and Other Traits

Research shows that warm colors such as yellow, orange and red dominate space and encourage conversation. Yellow increases energy flow and inspires creativity, it's good for enhancing intelligence and mental agility. Red invites adrenaline rush, it is a stimulant that promotes confident action. Orange is thought to make you feel younger and more vibrant! (So if you'd like to wind back the clock a few years then perhaps its time to add a few hints of orange to your creative space.)

Passive or cooler colors such as blue green and purple are background colors and tend to have more of a calming effect. Blue is relaxing and refreshing and helps induce peace and tranquility. Blue is also thought to be effective in terms of enhancing the decision making process, it encourages efficiency and can help you focus on what is important. Light blue gives a sense of peace and harmony. Green is natures core color, it is refreshing and is said to encourage fresh starts and emotional growth. Green is thought to promote physical and emotional well being. Purple is mysterious and comforting, it encourages fresh perspectives and aids the resolution of emotional issues.

In 2009 a study on colors that inspire creativity was undertaken. The study found that subjects solved twice as many insight puzzles when surrounded by the color blue, since it leads to more relaxed and associative thinking. Red, on the other hand, makes people more alert and aware. So Red is a best used as backdrop for solving analytic problems.

Helpful Tool

This site: color scheme designer which is primarily used for picking colors to aid the development of web sites is an excellent site to assist you in selecting colors. By selecting a color the site displays the various shades of that color that complement each other. 

Standardized Colors

"Colors are tricky. If you’ve ever brought home a can of paint that you thought was taupe in the store but your partner points out looks “kinda pink” on the wall, you know how frustrating—and unreliable—color perception can be."

"Color systems like Japan’s TOYO Color Finder or Germany’s HKS Guide help professionals define color by name or number, instead of eyeballing it. But perhaps most universal of all color systems is Pantone—the lingua franca of color."

Creativity Enablers

Because colors that inspire creativity stimulate your ability to be creative they are classed as creativity enablers. Other enablers could include walking and other forms of exercise, relaxing, a change of scenery or simply taking a warm bath. Laughter is also meant to enable creative thinking. Try and think of other things that enable you to be more creative, perhaps spending time working on your favorite hobby? What gets you into the zone?

When you have those creative moments they are usually visual in nature - that is you have a future vision of how something could be. For that reason not just colors but anything of a visual nature can be conducive to creativity.

So, the next time you're trying to think of a creative solution to some pressing thought or problem, not only surround yourself with colors that inspire you but try searching for images on the Internet, collecting pictures from magazines or drawing pictures of that which you are currently pondering. You may find being more visual about your efforts to be a powerful creative enabler. Good luck!


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