Color Theory: Pink

Color Theory: Pink


Color Wheel Tier: Pink is a tint of primary color red.
Tonal Value: Warm.
Complementary Color: Green (the complement of red).

Did you know that pink, as a word, existed as a verb before it became a descriptive noun?

‘To pink’ meant to decorate with a punched pattern. This is why, if you’re into sewing, your zigzag-edged scissors are called pinking shears. Pink as a color didn’t come into use until fairly recently (etymology-wise), in the 17th century. ‘Pinks’ are a common flower whose petals are the shade that is the color we know as pink today. Even outside of English, the word for this color is often the same as (or derived from) that language’s word for rose.

Despite its proliferation in the world of flora, pink wasn’t a popular color until the French Rococo movement when pastels were all the rage. Even after that, it was most often a color associated with boys (red was for grown men, so pink was for boys). It wasn’t until the mid 1900’s, when Mamie Eisenhower and Jacqueline Kennedy so often appeared in the color, that pink started to be associated with ladylike behavior and girls. Having grown up as a female since that time, I can tell you that the idea of pink being for little girls is now firmly rooted in our culture.

Here’s a wider look at this color’s different connotations:

Meanings / Associations


Sweetness / Innocence / Youth
Spring / Blossoms
Intimacy / Romance
Unconditional Love / Acceptance
Compassion / Nurturing / Gentleness / Warmth
Hope / Lightheartedness
Charm / Politeness



Intuition / Sensitivity
Uncomplicated Emotions
Breast Cancer Advocacy & Awareness
Cotton Candy / Bubble Gum
Flamingoes / Pigs / Salmon
Sunrise / Sunset



Immature / Naive / Silly
Weak Willpower / Low Self-Worth / Lack of Self-Reliance
Physical Weakness
Emotional Neediness
Getting fired (pink slip)


While I remember having a mostly pink room as an elementary-aged kid, these days pink is much more scarce in my choices. It’s not my least favorite color, nor one of my favorites. When I do use it, I gravitate more towards the darker, deeper pinks than the bright and saccharine pinks of my childhood. The different shades all have their place in design, though, depending on the project.

Also, after writing this, I now have that Aerosmith song stuck in my head.

If you want to see some examples of the many ways pink can be paired and used, check out my color board on Pinterest.

What does pink make you think of? Where does it rank among your color favorites?



Inspiration vs. Motivation

“Good art inspires; good design motivates.”
Otl Aicher

Art and design are irrevocably linked fields. Both require skill and a discerning eye. There’s also at least a little bit of each in the other, so it can be hard to draw the dividing line between the two. I’ve heard all of the following at one point or another:

  • Art is for the soul, design is for money.
  • Art is made to be looked at; good design is made to be invisible.
  • Art is focused on form, design is focused on function.
  • Art is interpreted; good design is understood.
  • Art is free form, design is calculated.
  • Art has no rules; design has definite bounds and processes.
  • Art asks and challenges, design answers and solves problems.
  • Art has no purpose beyond itself; good design only exists to serve a purpose.
  • Art sends a different message to everyone; design sends the same message to everyone.

None of these are wrong, necessarily. In fact, I quite like a lot of them. But the line can be blurred either direction for many of those points, as there are exceptions to both sides. That’s why I like the quote for today’s post.

Good art inspires; good design motivates.

Inspiration vs. motivation. Art doesn’t have to do anything other than be visually interesting, and ideally evoke an idea or inspire an emotional reaction of some kind. Design, on the other hand, is strategic. It’s meant to either enable the user to do something more easily, or to motivate the user/viewer to take action in the first place. It can even be as simple as motivating them to choose your company over your competitor. To me, this is the best distinction between the two fields.

What would you consider the difference between art and design? Do you agree with the quote?

Creative Wavelength

Creative Wavelength

It’s been a weird week here at SG, but some good news: it’s time for another round of Creative Wavelength! These are a few of the cool art-y, design-y, creativity-related things I’ve found around the web lately. Take a look:


Awesome food art by Anna Keville Joyce. I love intricate, quirky pieces like this.




Nature Land Art Installations by Nils-Udo. Otherworldly and earthy at the same time.



Imaginary Currency Leaf Insects and Other Fictional Bugs painted by Takumi Kama


Disrupting the Disruptors. “People are far less enthusiastic about being disrupted than marketers are about disrupting them.” Truth.

On Gendered Book Covers and Being a Woman Designer. This!

The stunning geographic divide in American creativity. Having lived on both sides, I am not surprised by this at all.

An open letter to design students. A good read, no matter your career stage.

Have a cool art project or design think piece you’ve found recently? Share below!


3 Common Misconceptions About Graphic Design

3 Common Misconceptions About Graphic Design

I’ve been a graphic designer for over 10 years now. In that time, I’ve had to explain what I do a countless number of times, and gotten a wide range of responses and reactions. Certain misconceptions about design have cropped up again and again. So I’d like to take a moment to address a few of the most common ones here.

1. Design is just ‘making it pretty’

This is the misconception I run across most often. The problem at the heart of this idea is that design doesn’t have to be traditionally ‘pretty’ to be good design or design that works. The specifics of a project – its goals and audience – might call for something completely different. The intent might be to shock, or intrigue, rather than to just be visually pleasing to some arbitrary majority. In other words, design has a purpose that goes beyond surface visuals. I wrote a whole post about this recently, but basically it comes down to this (to paraphrase what Steve Jobs said): design is not just about how it looks, it’s about how it works and what it’s saying.

2. Design is the same as illustration

‘Design’ is a very broad term, and there are lots of sub-fields that fall under it, each with their own specialty. Just like you can’t go to any person with Dr. in front of their name and expect them to specialize in exactly what you need medical help with, the same idea holds true in design. Graphic design is not the same thing as illustration, or calligraphy, or web programming. Someone who designs fonts for a living probably is not the same someone who can build you a mobile app. A web designer may have no clue how to set up files for letterpress printing. An illustrator who does character portraits probably is not the same person who can typeset and lay out your book’s pages for you. These are all different skill sets. It’s not uncommon to have some slight overlap, especially if the sub-fields are related (example: I do both print design and web design, as they each relate to branding). But, depending on what exactly you need, you may need more than one professional to help you out with different parts of your project. At the very least, you need to be aware that ‘design’ is not a one-size-applies-to-all field.

3. Design is easy because designers are ‘creative’

This is probably the misconception that frustrates me the most. Listen. Creativity is not a magic wand. Design work is still hard, time-consuming work. When was the last time you took an idea that only existed in your head and made it a real, visual, finished thing? Now add in coming up with that solid of an idea in the first place. And then add in making sure it actually works for the goals and audience of your client. And add in the budget realities of your client if it’s something that needs production or printing. Does that sound easy? No. And this doesn’t even take into account the technical know-how that takes years to develop, and is constantly being added to. So next time your instinct is to dismiss design as ‘not a real job’ or ‘something anyone with Photoshop can do,’ take a second to recognize how much unseen work goes into that finished design.

Honestly, this post could’ve gone much longer, there are that many misconceptions about what I do for a living. But the above 3 are by far the ones I have to deal with most often.

Have you fallen prey to any of the above? Are there common misconceptions about your job or industry?

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Amanda Guerassio

From freelance designer to studio owner, I've been a self-employed, independent graphic designer for over a decade. I love helping people find the right visual voice for their businesses and projects. Let's talk!