The Sound of Color

How Reese Ford uses her synesthesia to create vivid digital art.

While most of us simply hear music, Reese Ford experiences it. Ford, a Paly junior, experiences synesthesia, a condition where people see colors and shapes when reading or listening to music. She first realized she had synesthesia when she was around nine years old and had asked her mom if she saw colors and shapes when she read, and her mom told her she did not. 

Sometimes I’ll have weird experiences that are kind of overwhelming but it’s also kind of cool to feel it that way, like listening to a certain song [becomes] an immersive experience.”

— Reese Ford

Instead of feeling burdened or overwhelmed by this condition, Ford uses her unique experience to create vivid and beautiful art. Ford describes the experience of synesthesia as, “It is like [entering] a flow state, when you’re doing something you really like and you’re super focused. I feel that music and art give that sense to me when I’m doing both of them at the same time, intertwining them.”

However there are some downfalls to bearing this creative weight. Ford admits that synesthesia can be a real headache, “When I was explaining everything to everyone for the first time … it was kind of interesting because I became so conscious of it all the time. Sometimes I’ll have weird experiences that are kind of overwhelming but it’s also kind of cool to feel it that way, like listening to a certain song [becomes] an immersive experience,” Ford said.

Ford says right now she is working on a new series, “It is about the influence of music on my life and how it shapes me. I listen to songs and I illustrate them. Most of it is based off of the music but I also just really [enjoy using] vibrant colors,” Ford said.

Ford first became interested in art as a child, when she saw her dad, who is an architect, drawing buildings. “In middle school, I became more serious about [art], because I had more exposure to the Internet and I saw that other people were creating and I wanted to be like that too.”

Another person that inspires Ford to continue creating art is Victoria Vincent on Instagram. “She creates really interesting art, and it’s very unorthodox. Her storytelling is very cool and I like her use of color,” Ford said. 

Ford creates her art using many different mediums. She started off creating her art using more traditional mediums such as pencil and paint, but more recently she has begun to explore the world of digital art and animation.

Ford says that some of the ways that creating art on digital platforms compares to traditional mediums is that, “Digital [art] is easier in a lot of ways since there’s more ways that you can edit it, but with traditional art, there’s more of a payoff because it’s just a lot more complicated,” Ford said.

If you want to experience music like Ford does, go check out her Instagram and view art through a multi-sensory dimension! 

• Art by Reese Ford