Field Notes – Color

While browsing through both of my issues of New York Magazine, I found that the main three colors used in typography and graphic elements were black, red, and blue. Red is known as a fiery color representing passion, strength, and danger. Perhaps the use of this color is so prominent because New York Magazine really wants to catch the reader’s attention. The publication covers a variety of material; however, it is not a simple lifestyle magazine like that of Cosmopolitan or Vanity Fair. This publication focuses on more serious topics, including politics and art, so it seems as though this simple, yet bold, color palette keeps the reader informed on its intent of delivering important information. Towards the back of the book, New York Magazine introduces a playful, sky blue color. It feels like it is purposely meant to counteract the serious red shade that implies urgency. The blue is primarily used within the first word of each item in the publication’s “To Do” section. This section of the publication is newsworthy, yet not as critical for the reader to digest – it is not necessary in order for the reader to gain an in-depth understanding of current events. 

Color is rarely used in headlines – it is seen more in pull quotes, captions, decks, and bylines. Their deliberate use of minimal color with typography almost mimics the feel of a newspaper. It feels as though they are trying to exude a level of seriousness and importance by using less color. Body copy is always written in black. Similarly, headlines are also displayed in all black. Display text and bylines shift between black and red; however, they are primarily black.

The photographs do not appear to follow any specific color palette. Perhaps the simple use of color in typography is a deliberate way of offsetting the wide use of color in the photographs. I have found that when I am flipping through the magazine, my eye immediately goes towards the photographs on the page.