Colour In Display
Illustrations by Quentin Crisp

Described as "a complete treatise, in which the practical application of color in display is lucidly explained. The use of pictorial art in backgrounds, color gradation in displaying goods, etc., are fully dealt with." Colour in Display is Quentin Crisp's first published book, year 1938. Quentin Crisp was thirty years old. Read below his introductory text to the book, then click the image above to move forward to view his illustrations for the book.


A book about display is liable to create for its readers, a world in which the settings, their subtlest points, their slightest differences from one another, are more important than the goods to which they are meant to be a background, whereas in actual fact this should almost never be the case. But a book about color in display is definitely dangerous unless the function of color is well understood; for of all the attributes of display, the one that it is least suitable to consider separately, the one that can never be all-important is color. Perhaps it is with some such argument as this that those people who subject color to such frequent and such shameless misuse endeavour to justify themselves, but anyone is wrong who imagines (and obviously thousands do) that because color has no absolute value in display it doesn't matter what color is clapped into what position. He is wrong, because color is like style. It is only when it is good that one does not notice it. It is precisely the discordant use of color that makes prospective customers color conscious, that distracts their attention, in other words, from the goods that it is fondly hoped that they will buy.

Therefore yet another book on display — on color in display.

Another way in which books about display tend to confuse if not actually mislead their readers is by treating commercial art as an off-shoot of fine art, which is an unsound idea, and display as an off-shoot of commercial art, which is worse. As three uses of color art, commercial art and display are different in aim and in technique, and for any of my readers who, though they may now have begun to take an interest in window display, may nevertheless still be wandering in that slough of artistic enlightenment into which even the worst art school might lead them, I will endeavour to make those differences clear.

Quentin Crisp
London, October, 1938


Illustration copyright © Quentin Crisp. All rights reserved.

Colour In Display written and illustrated by Quentin Crisp. Blanford Press Ltd. 16 Hyde Street, New Oxford Street, London, W.C.I. 1938.

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