Monday, June 9, 2014

The Original Pantone Color Guide

Each week I write a blog post for my company, Cristofoli-Keeling. Last week's post was particularly interesting and I wanted to share with all of you!

Color My World.
The Pantone Color Guide is the standard for visual representation of color arranged to be a source of inspiration for the design and d├ęcor industries, among other uses, including color matching on-press. All 2,100 colors are compiled in a flip deck, making it easier for creatives to manage their aspirations in a comprehensive and compact format – while perhaps giving others anxiety about how many different shades of white exist! The fashion, interior, cosmetic, product design, and home furnishing industries are influenced and reliant on the Pantone’s color standards. Pantone released its original color guide in 1963, but it was not the first to bring the color spectrum together as a guide and resource.
Last month, the “original Pantone” was discovered by Erik Kwakkel, tucked away in a French Library. Almost three centuries before the Pantone Color Guide was invented, an unknown Dutch artist named A. Boogert, mixed and described every color imaginable in an 800-page book, Treatise on Colorsnow available online in high resolution.
Treatise on Colors was developed in 1692, intended to be an educational guide on mixing watercolors. The author thoroughly explains the use of color in paintings and how to change tones by adding different portions of water. In accordance with the descriptions, the artist documents hundreds of colors to show the variations in the color spectrum. The final project was the most comprehensive guide to paint and color of its time; and the manuscript is truly a work of art. Although the creation was most likely intended to be an instructional manual, there was only one copy of the book – seen by very few. Thanks to the Internet, the encyclopedic guide is garnering attention and awe the world over.
With this discovery, it’s interesting to look at how the use of color has changed since the hand-painted color guide over 300 years ago, to its more contemporary version, The Pantone Color Guide. The purpose ofTreatise on Colors was for artists to incorporate these practices in their artwork – for pure artistic renderings. The Pantone Color Guide is most commonly used, as a color selection tool for interior designers, graphic designers, architects, package designers and the like.  Today, a discovery of the theoretical approach might be exactly what the design industry needs. Graphic designer, John Herskind, has commented, “there are people who learn a little bit about Photoshop and now they’re a graphic designer without knowing anything that goes into good design…there are people now who call themselves ‘creative directors’ and don’t know how to use a Pantone book.” Maybe the resurfacing of this masterful work of art will re-inspire this modern wave of artists to not only reassess the implementation of resources like the Pantone Color Guide, but more importantly, to appreciate the artistic theory and creation behind the hues.


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