Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism. Become a Member »

Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.

Shutterstock’s map of the most downloaded colors in 20 countries around the world (screenshot by the author)

What’s your country’s favorite color? By crunching data on one million users’ color-coded image downloads of their library of more than 65 million stock photos, Shutterstock has created an interactive map visualizing the year’s most popular color choices in 20 nations around the world. Despite colors having wildly different symbolic associations from culture to culture (i.e. the color green is forbidden in parts of Indonesia, while in Mexico, it traditionally stands for independence), the 20 countries analyzed here have relatively similar preferences when it comes to the dominant hues of their stock photos.

The map reveals that, at least in the stock photo world, cool colors are, well, cool right now, while warm colors are less popular. Calming light greens and muted blues dominate the color-coded map, colors found in most natural landscapes regardless of geographic location. Only two countries of the 20, Russia and Switzerland, had shades of red among their top three most downloaded colors.

The four fastest-growing colors in Shutterstock’s image library of 2015 (screenshot by the author)

Shutterstock also crunched numbers on the top color trends of 2015 worldwide, by matching pixel data with image downloads on their website. The fastest growing colors of the year included two different shades of cool cyan, a dark pastel violet, and a deep, desaturated blue.

Shutterstock’s infographic depicting the most popular colors by country in 2015 (screenshot by the author)

These trends only reflect the preferences of Shutterstock users — largely made up of creative professionals and brand marketers — and don’t necessarily translate to color trends in, say, the art world. But Shutterstock thinks the report likely reflects overall color trends–“‘It’ colors tend to cross over seamlessly, saturating industries from high-fashion to home decorating to photography,” Shutterstock’s Jenn Takahashi says. Still, we’ll wait to get data from ColorSearch, a new digital platform that lets art collectors buy based on color, to learn which colors won the art world’s popularity contest.

See the full Shutterstock interactive infographic here.

Carey Dunne

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering arts and culture. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Baffler, The Village Voice, and elsewhere.

5 replies on “The Most Popular Colors Around the World, Mapped”

  1. No Yellows! Is that considered a psycho color or something? I love yellows and ochres, And very few reds, too. And no strong red. What is going on? No acid colors either. That is not surprising, but a little zing of acid could not hurt this tasteful world palette. There is an unexpected bright magenta/purple, which occupies Brazil… Japan has a bright and surprising cobalt… Do these colors mesh with stereotypes about nations and cultures?

    1. Maybe the reason behind this is that the majority of us are experiencing more polluted skies (wildfires, pollution,etc.) and also we aren’t surrounded by nature. So because of this we miss and then favor the colors blue and green? Just a thought… Thinking about it kind of gives me a case of the mean reds. :

  2. Note that this is an incomplete study chosen by designers or richer countries. They are not about to make drastic decisions regarding color, and it completely leaves out poorer people. This cannot reflect the colors that people the world over like. I live in San Diego and the colors of houses, for example, are muted tans. In my neighborhood in the city the colors, especially trim colors are more adventurous than the base colors. A little south of me and progressively south closer to Mexico the colors of the houses and the trims, the fences, etc are brighter and adventurous. Class seems to play a part, too. Once in Tijuana, Mexico the colors seem more random in poorer neighborhoods and “tastefully muted” in richer areas. That would be a big project: to measure color preferences by the color of houses from one neighborhood to another.

  3. Wow -the US colours are pretty damn ugly but explains a great deal of the dreadful-looking newer houses in The South. They all seem to be built in a vealish brick.

Comments are closed.