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ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color Hardcover – September 17, 2013
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A brief Q&A with Jude Stewart, author of ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color.
1. What inspired you to create ROY G. BIV?
Jude Stewart: Color is a daily mystery we all swim in--yet it’s so ubiquitous, it becomes invisible. I wrote ROY G. BIV to reawaken our eyes to color, so we can see how startling and amazing this everyday phenomenon is.
2. How did you come up with the layout and look for the book?
JS: It’s impossible to write a complete book about an enormous subject like color. That’s why ROY G. BIV offers a satisfying read cover-to-cover, but also invites readers to leapfrog across colors, so you can pursue some thematic affinity connecting, say, blue and yellow. Color is dynamic; it’s witty; it’s serious but also endlessly fun. Hopefully this format makes readers feel as if they can play the book’s game of fascinating associations forever.
3. What color fact in ROY G. BIV surprised you the most?
JS: I’m a fan of the astronomers arguing about the average color of the universe; the surprising explanation for why brown isn’t in the rainbow; the many legends accounting for why barns are red; the material histories of color before synthetic dyes were invented, in which brilliant, rich, expensive pigments were produced from extremely stinky ingredients… oh, I’ll stop now.
4. Where does your love of color come from? Why do you love it?
JS: A big part of why I wrote ROY G. BIV was to figure out why I love color so much – and honestly, I haven’t touched bottom on that question yet. But if pressed to answer: I suppose I love how color brings out strong opinions, how it engages both our feelings and reason so intensely. Reacting to color can make us feel fully human.
5. As an expert in design, what are the any common color mistakes we all make?
JS: It’s a big mistake to play it too safe with your color palette--but then again, I recognize why people opt for safety. They’re afraid that going bolder will just look ugly--and it’s true, not every color experiment pans out.
Here’s an easy way to experiment with strong color: choose only one bold shade that really speaks to you and build your look around that. Say you like a deep saturated orange, for example. Stick with brown shoes and a belt and wear a scarf that includes that same shade of orange along with quieter colors. (If you’re decorating a living room, try a bold orange accent wall, bold orange details in throw pillows--but stick with a neutral-colored couch.) As you play with strong color more, you’ll get more confident about how to marry two exuberant shades.
“A rabbit hole of a good read. Color infuses meaning; meaning infuses color. Stewart has made it all the more vibrant by exploring its interpretations.” ―Chicago Tribune
“Takes a deep, sometimes feisty look at all the things that color can do and mean.” ―The Atlantic
“Stewart's well-designed book is visually stimulating and surprising, reminding readers that colors are still as fascinating and fun as they were in grade school.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Roy G. Biv belongs in every design junkie's home.” ―Chicago Home + Garden "Domestica" blog
“In an artfully designed work, factoids and myths about color are brightly packaged in a format with eye-catching typographics... [Stewart's] research into the associations and meanings of color is extensive.” ―Kirkus Reviews
Top Customer Reviews
What there is are descriptions in plain English, in black text, in plain block form. Plus references to other pages in the book where the same phrase is explained, underlined in a color. About the only substantial color are the two page spreads that begin each chapter - each a color, of course. They list all the anecdotes you're about to read over a timeline. Not very useful or inspired. Occasionally there is a page dedicated to a quote, and the quote is on a color background, with maybe a simple, stock, one color image like a raindrop or a pail.
There are far better books that cover the same territory, only infinitely more innovatively. They are far more engaging, far better laid out, and much more useful than this one. The surprise here is how disappointing it is. Design is all but absent.
The heart of the book is facts for each color. I will sample:
White - the color of bridal gowns, but this only became standard with the wedding of Victoria and Albert in 1840, when Victoria chose this relatively blank canvas and eschewed rich colors and jewels.
Pink - was used as a color for British warships in World War II. It hid them nicely at dawn or dusk, and also matched the German’s pink marker dye so they would be shooting at their own shells. It was conspicuous at other times and situations, and was not used after 1942.
Green - is not a color for hats in China; “wearing a green hat” sounds in Chinese like the word for “cuckold.Read more ›
Altogether, there is maybe about ten pages of actual substance or worth in the entire book. The rest is just filler, which is a huge disappointment.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's a nice book. It gets a little repetitive after a while but I loved the quirky facts :-)Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
(Full disclosure: I was only able to read a third of this book before I gave up. Maybe the other two-thirds was better? Read morePublished on July 13, 2014 by Amazon Customer
An idea that did not translate well from hypertext to print. The radio interviews I heard on its publication, suggested the book would be far more informative and interesting than... Read morePublished on May 7, 2014 by Jesse M. Kahn
This book was a disappointment. I was expecting a book on color theory rather than random ramblings about the meaning of a particular color.Published on January 9, 2014 by Marjorie A LaTour
Too hard to make sense of. Found it so off-putting i read only a few pages. There are better books on color out there.Published on December 30, 2013 by Pink Hat
ROY G. BIV is playful. Reading becomes play as you decide whether and how to follow the links that connect Stewart's tidbits about color. Read morePublished on November 2, 2013 by Gavin P. Chuck
I was genuinely surprised by ROY. I can't think of many other coffee-table books like this. it's really easy to look at and super well designed, but something about the way the... Read morePublished on October 24, 2013 by Janina Morrison
ROYGBIV was an absolute pleasure to delve into. It was fascinating to read cover-to-cover, and now rests handsomely on my coffee table where it is the first thing a guest reaches... Read morePublished on October 23, 2013 by David Skidmore