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Monday, May 30, 2016

Art Licensing Editorial: Should You Use Color Trends in Art?

Where do color trends come from? Color trends come from all over but the major color trendsetter is Pantone. The Pantone name is known worldwide as the standard language for color communication from designer-to-manufacturer-to-retailer-to- customer. They are a provider of color systems for a variety of industries and annually introduce the color of the year they think is trending. [1]

Note: The number in the bracket [ ] indicates the article the quote is from. See the article title in the Reference section at the bottom of this article.

“When Pantone releases their color of the year they are setting the tone for upcoming trends. They pull influences from fashion, automotive design, interior design, technology and trade shows. They analyze how color impacts mood and how it relates to current events.” [2] And, “The annual announcement ultimately influences product development, purchasing decisions, product packaging and graphic design.” [3] Many manufacturers but not all use Pantone color trends for their products although it may be several years before they appear on the products because of the time needed to produce them.

In the past, The Pantone Color of the Year has been one color that was bright and bold. So persons in the design community were shocked when in 2016 Pantone introduced the Pantone Colors of the Year as two colors; pastel pink (Rose Quartz) and pastel blue (Serenity). [4] Pantone Color Institute’s Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman, had this to say about the decision, “Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.”[5]

2016 Pantone Colors of the Year
There were a lot of comments when Pantone announced 2016 Colors of the Year last December. But, surprisingly they were more constructive than negative. Mentioned in the many articles I read, pale pink and baby blue are already seen on clothing in fashion runways, on kitchen appliances, tabletop, household linens, cosmetics, iPhones, shoes, home d├ęcor, and in advertising.

Comments about 2016 Pantone Colors of the Year
“I don’t know about this color of the year. Yes, I guess it is tranquil. But could also be bland and a bit boring. I guess it would depend in what it is being used on.” [2]

“While these shades, Rose Quartz and Serenity, can represent feelings such as compassion, affection, caring, soothing and relaxation — pastels are often described as ‘soft’ or ‘weak.’ However, Pantone’s research led them to choose these colors, suggesting a change in consumer sentiment, stating, ‘We wanted compassion, which today a lot of people are looking for.’ They say the selections are born from consumers searching for balance in a chaotic world. . . . Senior living and the senior health care industry have been creating a sense of caring, compassion and relaxation in their branded materials and physical spaces for some time, and know there’s strength in these sentiments. Knowing what these colors represent, it won’t be surprising to see them smartly featured in materials being marketed to seniors, or incorporated into interior design elements of communities.” [3]

“Once people get over the baby nursery comments, I think we'll see a wealth of possibility for design and interiors. We've seen pastels emerge in a powerful and modern way in recent years. On its own, pink has almost become a new neutral that, when paired with other colors, has a range of moods and associations.” [6]

Using color trends in art
Should artists use color trends in the art they create for licensing consideration and more specifically Pantone 2016 Colors of the Year? The answer is the same that is often heard in the art licensing industry; it depends!

Some manufacturers are willing to take a chance on using new color trends in the hope to sell more products while other manufacturers use only colors that have been proven to sell their products. Previous Pantone Color of the Year was more applicable on a large variety of products especially in the gift industry because the color hues were bold. The pastel colors of the Pantone 2016 Colors of year does not necessarily work for as many products. Some art themes are very color specific such as most holiday themes. Easter uses mostly pastel colors so using Pantone’s Rose Quartz and Serenity (R&S) will fit well for Easter products. Those colors may also work well for Christmas decorations even though the traditional colors are red and green. Some manufactures that produce Christmas decorations seem to be willing to try new colors even though they tend to be a fad and sell well for only a couple of years. So, I will not be surprised to soon see R&S decorated Christmas trees at the Atlanta Gift shows. R&S colors on other holiday themes would not work. But, R&S colors for non-holiday themes such as for birthday and inspirational may work.

And just like themes, some colors work for certain products and not for others. For instance, the decorative flag industry uses bright colors so that images standout and can be seen 40 feet away. The R&S pastel hues will not work for flags but may work if they are more saturated in color or are paired with other colors. Check out Pantone’s website for suggested colors to pair with Rose Quartz and Serenity colors.

Should artists use color trends?
Sure they should use color trends but only IF the art they are creating for products will sell the products for manufacturers! And, the only way to know what colors work for the manufacturers is by studying their websites and websites of retailers that sell their products. For information about the different product industries and some links to manufacturers that licensing art, click HERE.

Researching manufactures and the product industries that sell their products is a lot of work! But, it is worth the effort to have a better chance in licensing your art.

[1] “About PANTONE” - Pantone®

[2] “The Pantone Color of the Year for 2016” - Garrett Specialties Blog

[3] “What Pantone’s 2016 Color of the Year Selections Could Mean for Senior Living” - Glynn Devins

[4] “Surprise: Pantone’s Color of the Year is actually two colors” -Washington Post

[5] “Introducing Rose Quartz & Serenity” Pantone®

[6] “Pantone's Color(s) of the Year for 2016!” - Apartment Therapy

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  1. Thanks, Joan. It'll be interesting to see how this particular trend emerges.

  2. Interesting as always Joan. Thank you.

  3. Thank you, Joan. Enjoyed the background of Pantone's color predictions in your article. One thing we artists must remember (especially if the colors don't work well with our designs) is that they are for "the year." There will be new colors announced before we know it.

  4. PS - Have you seen Pantone's "Fall" colors yet?