Reading Colors

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What's synesthesia?

Synesthesia is a group of conditions where people's core senses - sight, touch, smell, etc. - swirl together in unexpected ways ... like being able to "taste" names or "see" sounds. There are numerous types of synesthesia; for example, a friend of mine associates personality traits with numbers (3 is charming, but don't ever trust 9), whereas I see time as a visual construct (known as space-time synesthesia).

My mom's variation - and the inspiration for these cards - causes her to see letters in specific colors.

It's called grapheme-color synesthesia, and refers to people for whom every letter of the alphabet is associated with a specific color; "A" is always forest green, "Y" is rose pink, "J" is bright yellow, for example. A particular color-letter pair might evolve slightly as a person ages (from rust-red to plain red), but a key feature of grapheme-color synesthetes is their pairings' steadfastness.

A 2015 study examined more than 6,500 people with this particular type of synesthesia, compiling which color corresponded to which letter for each participant (the color-letter pairs are different for everyone). I used software to find the blend of all 6,588 color instances recorded for each letter, respectively, and used that "code" to create my synesthesia cards, creating a language made of color - letting you "read" art.

See all the synesthesia cards here.

Key

  • a
  • b
  • c
  • d
  • e
  • f
  • g
  • h
  • i
  • j
  • k
  • l
  • m
  • n
  • o
  • p
  • q
  • r
  • s
  • t
  • u
  • v
  • w
  • x
  • y
  • z