Blue Is the Coolest Color: On Being a Colorblind Designer

Felipe Elioenay



I was never really good with my romantic choices. But the colour blue was my first love, it always brought me comfort and, at the same time, took my breath away. Without really knowing why I always had so many blue clothes, or why I would always pick it for most of my work, I just kept loving it.

Let’s go deep down, back to 1991: me, five years old at my first arts class in Brazil. Between drawing trees and houses I got my first F. Shit, I didn’t deserve to get screwed up like that! The teacher looked at my tree with brown leaves and let off: “Felipe, are you dumb? Trees have green leaves!” (She was so cute wasn’t she?) Oh well, I just started crying

Later on, in third grade, I was chosen among 12 students to be the man. Painting the Brazil’s map?! I couldn’t believe it, my first great task as an artist. I finished my work and heard: “Lipe, why did you drown the whole state of Minas Gerais? It can’t be blue!”


A whole bunch of situations like these came up until I finished school and decided what I wanted to do with my life. I chose to be a designer.

Five years later an eye clinic visited my agency. On the little letter test I was told I had an eagle’s vision. Look at me kicking my teacher’s ass now! “Now we just have to take an insignificant test to check your colour vision.” My nightmare had a name — Ishihara. Boom! The little kid that painted brown leaves wasn’t dumb, he was just colourblind.

The doctor: “OK, this is very common amongst men. You don’t work in the creative department, do you?” I answered: “Yes I do. I’m an art director.”

Did my world collapse? No. Did I go crying to my mama? Also not.

“What is the colour of my door?” Asked the best eye specialist I found. I promptly answered: “Blue of course.” Pow! The fucking door was gray. Diagnosis: colorblind as hell. Tell me more… Our vision is based in red, green and blue (the RGB thing going on). To rate the loss, I see 23% of green, 35% of red and 55% of blue. BLUE man! Glory in the highness, what a blessed colour. Blue is the most seen, thus loved by the colourblind. ❤

A Colourblind Designer: Easy joke, right?

That’s what I thought, but only for a few seconds. Then I laughed it off. 350 million men are colourblind. Cool, but I’m a designer. And besides not giving up on doing what I love (after all, photoshop has the hexa that prevents us from many mistakes), I put myself into creating something useful for other dumb homeboys.

Searching the world wide web I found a colour alphabet created by the Portuguese designer Miguel Neiva. Symbols that can help us in daily situations like dressing yourself or taking the metro.

Once, trying to create a coffee brand that was supposed to be brown, I created a charming and hipster vintage logo that was green. ¬¬ Not good.

How can I prevent this from happening? Soon I had a simple idea of creating a colour picker for real life to show me what blessed colour I was seeing. Voilà! The Colorblindness app was born.

It works like this: aim your iPhone at something and it tells you what colour it is. Done. It also comes with a tutorial on how to use Miguel’s colour code. We have to help ourselves right? The app is free and also open source on Github. We have to stop this patent culture that until now only slowed down technological advances.