“Colours are the mother tongue of the subconscious”

(Carl Jung)

As psychological studies have proved colours control moods and the temperament of people: To alter the state of thinking and behaviour of human beings, colour is now used in many public areas including schools, workplaces and of course advertising.
If human mood patterns can be controlled simply by colour, then surely this same type of methodology is happening outdoors too? In most high streets there are few legislative rules for signage, therefore to grab the attention of the public, businesses mostly advertise with tawdry digitally created signs.

These with neon lighted signs and the latest invention to advertise, large LED screens; the scenery in a city is a constant battleground of images with artificial colour. Considering the affect colours have on the human subconscious, these non-natural dissonant colour schemes could be imposing restlessness energy on the human senses, which may well then in some people, agitate impatient and aggressive emotions. A quantity of people will disagree with this hypothesis, but few cannot disagree that the abundance of poorly designed, non-aesthetical “machine made” signs are making the high street look an unsightly, chaotic mess.

Robert Stevenson - The Sign Writer, Staffordshire - Colour Psychology, BillBoard Signs

Robert Stevenson - The Sign Writer, Staffordshire - Colour Psychology, Fast Food Signs

Robert Stevenson - The Sign Writer, Staffordshire - Colour Psychology, San Paulo, Brazil Signs
< San Paulo's over powering signage

Robert Stevenson - The Sign Writer, Staffordshire - Colour Psychology, San Paulo, Brazil Signs
< The same street with the signage removed

In San Paulo, Brazil, advertising signs got so out of control, The City’s Council decided to clean up and clear the streets of all signs. On the first of January 2007 The Clean City law, forced businesses to remove the 15,000 billboards and 300,000 signs. This act to clean up the streets is not so radical as one might think; in London the exact same thing happened. In the streets of 18c London, history books state there were so many signs; it was difficult to walk around those narrow streets without banging one’s head against them. Always eager to out do the business trading next door, the signs kept on getting larger and larger until one, because of its size, was so heavy it pulled down the side of a building and killed two people. The 1762 Westminster paving act stated all protruding signs must be removed. And so they were and then shown in an exhibition organised by Bonnell Thorton and Mr Serpentine lines of Beauty himself, William Hogarth.

If such an act to clear the streets of signs is passed today, one could only imagine what the sign exhibition would be like. With thousands of digitally created fonts, printed banners and pictures, clashing garish colours with flashing lights and moving images from LED signs; visitors would be entering pandemonium: This and flames everywhere from all those fast food signs, would be like walking around in hell itself.

The Sign Writer - Staffordshire, Colour Psychology - Black


Black is the colour of death and in western culture mourning. Black is also a symbol of evil, sorcery, power and authority. It is used to reduce space and can make a room claustrophobic. Can produce moods of melancholia, depression, confusion and paranoia
The Sign Writer - Staffordshire, Colour Psychology - White


Symbolises balance and perfection. In Religion symbolises faith and in some cultures mourning. Innocence. Purity. Cleanliness. Increases a sense of space. Induces moods of clear thinking, purification, freshness and positive thoughts.
The Sign Writer - Staffordshire, Colour Psychology - Red


Red pigments are expensive so this colour symbolises, power and wealth. Also symbol of warning, danger, anger, sexuality and passion.

Emotionally red stimulates, produces feelings of excitement and energy. Induces agitation, people can lose their tempers in a room painted red. Red is also an appetite stimulant so is usually used to decorate restaurants and also used as a background colour for signs in the fast food chain

The Sign Writer - Staffordshire, Colour Psychology - Orange


Symbolises fire, natural heat, sunshine and warmth. Produce moods of optimism and feelings of mental well – being, happiness, inner strength, confidence and energy.
The Sign Writer - Staffordshire, Colour Psychology - Yellow


Symbolises cowardice and sickness (jaundice) but also represents spring flowers blooming after the greyness of winter has passed. Yellow is an invigorating cheerful colour; boosts spirits and speeds metabolism also helps concentration.
The Sign Writer - Staffordshire, Colour Psychology - Green


Symbolises envy but more positively represents nature. It is the easiest colour on the eye and is calming. Produces feelings of relaxation, quietude and inner peace. With the abundance of man made materials used for construction, there is less natural green to be seen as each year passes by.
The Sign Writer - Staffordshire, Colour Psychology - Blue


Ultramarine blue is made from the rock lapis lazuli. This pigment is very expensive so deep rich blue symbolise wealth and authority. Mid blue symbolises stability and wisdom. Light blue symbolises peace and tranquillity.

Sky Blue is the upper colour of nature, and with Sun’s blue light rays combined with the yellow rays we can enjoy the sight of the green pastures below. Blue and green are the background colours of nature, on which all other colours are applied onto.
Effects on the human emotions: Blue is a cool colour and calms down the senses. People become less agitated and are more productive in a room painted with light blue. Studies show weight lifters can handle more weights in a gym painted blue although dark blue can produce feeling sadness, hence the term “feeling blue”

The Sign Writer - Staffordshire, Colour Psychology - Purple


As with all expensive pigments Purple, symbolises nobility and wealth. Produces self esteem and confidence, can calm the nerves. Can also stimulate feelings of affection and attachment: Perhaps this is why a certain chocolate manufacturer uses purple packaging on their chocolate bars.
The Sign Writer - Staffordshire, Colour Psychology - Brown


Brown is natural, of wood and earthly so symbolises strength, security and resilience. With paint, a mixture of red, orange, yellow and black are used to make Brown. Thus can produce feelings of mixed emotions, indecision and absent-mindedness. The abundance of black in dark brown can produce the feeling of loneliness and sadness. Restaurants painting the walls with brown is a business destined to fail.
The Sign Writer - Staffordshire, Colour Psychology - Blue


Pink is a symbolism of femininity, romance and love, hence the use of it on valentine’s cards. Pink calms down emotions by reducing energy levels. A pink room will make people friendlier and less aggressive.

Robert E. Stevenson – The Signwriter

Traditional Signwriting for Heritage, Commercial & Vintage Projects