What is it like to be a color blind designer?

By Eva Voskanian | 25 July, 2016

հայերեն տարբերակ

I do not feel that there is anything wrong with me. It is other people who see colors differently.

-Tigran Artenyan, 2016

Specifically for Braind, our new designer Tigran Artenyan gave an exclusive interview about himself, his works and his peculiar X-men vision. And we invited a color interpreter for this occasion. No, we actually did not. We had to figure it out by ourselves. It was challenging.

What kind of color blindness do you have and how you learnt about it?

I belong to the 8% of male population with colorblindness and represent even a smaller percentage of the people with such handicap involved in design or any other artistic field.

My parents learnt that I was color blind when I drew tree leaves in brown and trunk in green.

When I became older I was diagnosed with deuteranopia. It happened during the eyesight test for skydiving. I had to pass it for parachuting. Unfortunately, I failed. On a daily basis my vision is not a big deal for me… but I wanted to skydive so badly!!

So, which colors work best for you? Are there any you dislike?

Turquoise, red, burgundy, royal blue, white are my favs. Some fluorescent colors are annoying to my eye.  

In which colors do you see the world?

What comes to actual colors… well, seeing some people in green is pretty common thing for me. Traffic lights’ colors appear to me in the following sequence: orange, orange, grey. It doesn’t discourage or disturb me while driving though. I mix some colors like I acquire pink as grey or , as they say, some shades of blue and purple come in one hue for me.
In most of the time my logics and some basic knowledge about stuff work to distinguish the color of a particular object. That is to say I know that wooden objects normally come in brownish shades yet it may be in other tones in my vision.
Sometimes distance is a problem: I see the colors in different way when they are far from me or close. I do not differentiate red and green light signals on taxi cabs and also bright hair colors like red or blue, I see them vaguely.

How people react when they learn you are colorblind AND a designer?

At first, people do not believe me. Then they keep asking me to name the colors that surround and the way they appear to me. Some basic things, you know. Well generally they find it interesting and even want to see the world the way I do.

Do you think this handicap puts you at an advantage or disadvantage in your field?

Sometimes it helps and sometimes not. For example, the color spectrum I use often comes in unusual combinations. I choose the spectrum with matching colors and they go well together. It happens a lot when the way others see my spectrum is also aesthetic and eye pleasing. Most of the time, I'm using a color from the palette that we've already agreed upon with fellow designers. When I need to use a specific color my approach becomes truly technical, so I use color codes like CMYK and RGB.

Any other interesting facts?

There is one thing which is still surprising for me: I don’t know myself how I figured out the titles of all colors! I was told that I name them the way they appear to everyone else.

I’ve never met a colorblind person but I’d love to meet them and discuss our own superability. Once I wore a brown tie and green trouser and thought they were both green. They matched though. Also I have never worn any glasses to fix my vision and never want to. Imagine the world you see everyday once turns into completely different and unusual scene. You will be greatly stressed I believe. 

We decided to pass the colorblind test alongside with Tigran, so here are some interesting results. As for Tigran, he mostly failed to distinguish greyish shades like on this two pictures.

What comes to us, we all failed to find a number on this picture and Tigran saw it quite clearly. He never told us which number it was.



Type: Inspiration

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