- by Barney Davey
Have you ever wondered how the color palettes of so many varied companies seem to follow suit? For instance in the past year, if you browsed a Crate & Barrel or Horchow or Macy’s Home catalog you’d find natural blues and shades of chocolate brown making a strong influence on home design. Is is possible that Cadillac and Lexus could choose eerily similar shades of luscious metallic raspberry red in the same model year? Given seasonal color palettes are chosen one to three years in advance, such trends do not happen by coincidence. Most color designers who work for large companies that need to forecast color direction to market their products subscribe to either the Color Marketing Group or The Color Association. These organizations help them decide on colors from Kleenex boxes to Cadillacs.
An Associated Press story picked up on MSNBC: Social trends color shade-forecasting business – Next year’s Beijing Olympics could spark a trend in reds and yellows explains how the 1,100 member Color Marketing Group works to identify coming trends in color for Consumer/Residential and Contract/Commercial products that include: Action/Recreation, Consumer Goods, Technology, Home, Visual Communications, Transportation, Juvenile Products, Fashion, and environments for Office, Health Care, Retail, Hospitality/Entertainment and Institutional/Public Spaces.
If you are painting with the notion your art and legacy are museum bound, this information may not be of interest to you. If, however, you are painting to create art that will be bought to complement other decor in homes and offices, then paying attention to color trends is valuable. Ask any exhibitor working an art tradeshow what is the first question they get from buyers. I guarantee it is, “What’s new?” As with themes and subject matter, questions of palette choices are always brought into the conversation. To let your color choices be informed by trends you catch early can make a difference in if and how quickly otherwise well executed art gets sold.
In my book, How to Profit from the Art Print Market, I mention consulting with an artist who was loaded with talent and substantial financial backing. Further, he had a compelling personal story that would have made promoting and publicizing him and his art easy. He came to mind as I was writing this post because I recalled how uncertain he was on choosing colors for the etchings he was creating.
Here was a technically accomplished artist who was far outside his comfort zone. While he was a gifted illustrator who could paint wildlife direct from nature with ease, he had never personally nor professionally paid attention to home decor. When it came to choosing colors for the landscape, vineyard and other home decor motifs etchings specifically researched and designed for this audience, he was unsure. Perhaps if I’d been able to steer him to sources like those mentioned in this post, he wouldn’t have abandoned the project to the dismay of those invested in it.
If you choose to allow yourself to be informed from contemporary influences to help increase your sales and popularity, tracking the trend predictions of the Color Marketing Group and The Color Association should be on your resource list. For most individual artists subscribing to such pricey services is not in the budget, but they nevertheless can gather much information from frequent press releases these organizations provide. I’ll do my best to publish pertinent sources as I find them.