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Home » Challenge #5 Create a greeting card and learn about the Korean color system

Challenge #5 Create a greeting card and learn about the Korean color system

Sending greetings to family and friends has always seemed like a nice tradition to me. I enjoy writing them as much as I enjoy receiving them: you spend some time with one or the other, through writing. This being said, I usually do this only for Christmas and the new year. The original article in French appeared in that period, so that an adaption for Easter is an additional challenge.

Today, the possibility of sending wishes by email or other electronic means encourages us to produce generic wishes. Personally, I like to send several images (usually three) and propose to those who wish, in exchange for their address, their favorite with a personal message.

In this Challenge #5, I share with you the creative process of an Easter postcard. One is based on the traditional Korean color system.

The Korean postcard

This first greeting card draws its inspiration from a visit to an exhibition.

Visit to the Korean Cultural Center

“Tekkal, Coleurs de Corée” was an exhibition on the traditional colors of Korea at the Korean Cultural Center in Paris. My visit took place in 2020 ; I was lucky to have a personal guide who made this tour exciting. l discovered the Korean symbolic system of colors and everyday objects illustrating their traditional use. In the video below you will have a two and a half minutes overview.

Overview of the exhibition devoted to traditional colors of Korea at the Korean Cultural Center

The Korean Color System

The main colors are white, black, yellow, red and blue; each is associated with a cardinal point, an element and a season, except for yellow. The latter is placed in the center of the system and associated with the Earth; it has neither season nor cardinal point.

Colors have their own meaning which may change depending on their combination with one or the other color. The rules of harmony between colors depend on the relationship between the elements to which they refer.

Recognizing the cultural and symbolic dimension of colors and their harmony is fundamental. I will devote a future article to this matter.

In Korea, green is not considered as a main color, and blue is associated with the tree. However, my guide informs me that in their culture, green and blue are very close. In Korean vocabulary, there are even adjectives used interchangeably to designate green and blue.

The color names and the category they belong to in function of a given culture is fascinating. There is no thruth in that matter. I also plan a future article on the subject.

But what does this have to do with the greeting card?

Card design

In 2020, the traditional Korean color system seemed to me to be ideal for conveying my wishes. I liked the idea that it was associated with a compass; at the beginning of the year it is useful to take stock, to see where we are going, and even to reorient ourselves. Also, the symbolism of the five elements connects us to the essential. Finally, conveying the message that a system can be different from ours, that the notion of harmony is also cultural, seduced me. That was the original idea that guided me and gave rise to the postcard below. Each number associated with a color, a direction and a season was cut so that assembled, they made a cube.

Overview of the 2020 postcard using Korean color system (Flat version)

On receipt, one would have placed the montage on a yellow square with a compass (also provided) with the white number two will be facing west (see the original article for more details).

Now in order to adapt the Korean system to Easter wishes additional work is required. This limited set of colors made of black, white, red, blue and yellow reminds me of Lichtenstein palette. Finally, such a set seems to be common: one can find it in Bauhaus, in Mondrian paintings, and it is the basic set used in advertising or communication. Lichtenstein’s style is easy to imitate; I found “Gossip girl” from Long Shot as a good starting point. The set of colors is exactly the one of the Korean system

Vinciane Lacroix, “Happy Easter”, hijacking of Long Shot “Gossip Girl”, inspired by Lichtenstein.

Alighiero Boetti Easter Postcard

Alighiero Boetti (1940-1994) is mostly known for his beautiful embroideries. In fact, they are not really his, they result from a commission. Indeed, in 1971, Boetti had the idea of a large world map tapestry showing each country’s flag. He commissioned women at an embroidery school in Kabul to realize it. That was a start of a collaboration between the artist and women from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Roughly 150 tapestries have been produced. You can admire several of them on Instagram (@alighieroboettiblog).

©Alighiero Boetti,Mappa(1989-1994) (source: MOMA — Note for copyright this is considered as fair use)
©Alighiero Boetti, left: “A Braccia conserte” (1994), right: “L’Energia iniziale” (2013) Note for copyright this is considered as fair use)

The design of these brightly colored Arazzi works inspired me for an Easter postcard. Note that the women themselves were choosing the colors.

I started from a photo I took at the “Love. Hate. Debate”. Be sure that I did not hire any refugee to embroider this tapestry. In a future color challenge, I shall come back to this art of hijacking famous artist’s work.

Vinciane Lacroix, “Happy Easter”, hijacking of Alighiero Boetti, “Svelare e Rivelare” (1992)

Go ahead!

Now why don’t you design your own Easter postcard? You might have a look at other artists that used letters in their art and adapt their technique to produce a graphic card. In the original French article, I got inspired by Jasper Johns; you could easily adapt the technique for your own purpose.

And…Happy Easter!

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