A question for synesthetes

I’m a designer, so I was thinking about this the other day. If I design an ad, for example, that has a word in red to make it stand out, does it look different to you than the other words? Or because you see words/letters in colors already, is there no effect?

Similarly, any of you synesthetes out there designers yourselves? Does it present a challenge to you when you’re trying to select colors and create a design?

I see shapes and colors when I’m listening to music, and sometimes it can be distracting when I’m trying to work. I have to choose the right music or it just doesn’t work, or sometimes I just have to turn it off all together. So I can just imagine how tricky it would be if the stuff I was working on was getting all wonky with the colors because of the words that were in the layout.


It wouldn’t look any different to me, but I don’t have the letters-colors type either. Like you, I see sound though I don’t get too distracted because with my eyes open it’s just a faint shimmer of color at times. With my eyes closed, on the other hand, it’s much more distracting, but I’m usually hoping to sleep then.

I don’t think most people have more than one of the common types of synesthetia each, so it wouldn’t affect even very many synesthetes to try to design something to appeal to them. It’s an interesting idea, though.

I attribute colors to letters, numbers and musical notes. I’m also a designer.

I don’t literally *see *the colors. It’s like looking at a grayscale image. I know that the house is red, the lawn is green and the sky is blue, but I only see shades of gray. When I look at letters or numbers, I know that the A is red, the M is brown and the P is blue. But if the type is actually red, that supersedes the synesthesia. Once I start reading actual words and sentences, I’m no longer focused on individual letters, so there’s no problem.

But if I were designing a logo with, say, a prominent “A,” I’d at first be tempted to make it red. But I’d overcome the temptation and make it the appropriate color. It would seem wrong at first, but I’d get used to it.

But I agree with you about the music. Music affects me very strongly, and I’ve learned to not have any music playing when I’m doing complicated color juxtapositions. I need a clear head for that.

What panache45 said above. I don’t actually have any visual color distortion when looking at words or numbers, but when I read a couple letters or numbers at a time, I imagine them with their default colors. Thus, driving directions can get rather annoying, especially when I need to use both the I-96 and I-69 highways; 6 and 9 are both green in my head, so the directions just become a slur of green and I have difficulty differentiating the highways.

I also do design sometimes, and this has never been an issue. The many other aspects and considerations in design override the default imagery in my head.

I associate colours with letters and numbers, but I don’t think I would see things as wrong if they weren’t the colour I associate with them. I think what makes things seem particularly “right” to me is when the letters and numbers match what I think they should be. I don’t think you can design for synesthetes because everyone probably thinks the colours should be different.

I am actually a landscape designer. I think my level of synesthetism works for me, because I get the association between colours and shapes and feelings very easily.

I have sound-color (for both music and the sound of words) and no, it wouldn’t affect my perception of the sound of the word if it were written in a different color.

Not a designer, but I find that occasionally it does come into play when I’m writing something - what color the sound of the word has for me will sometimes affect word choice.