Color and possibility

I love swatches. Not the Swiss fashion watch; I’m taking about any organized collection of color samples for paint, ink, textiles, flooring…I could go on. For me, any swatch book represents the ultimate in possibility for coloring my world, my client’s world, my friends’ world. So imagine my delight when this commercial aired. And then another, and another.
It all started when I was very young, and my sister somehow obtained a thick little grommet-bound book of lighting gel color samples. These transparent rectangles held endless fascination for me. When I could convince her to let me play with the booklet, I would read the type-written descriptions (“Best for afternoon sun effect on interior spaces”), hold a gel up to my eye and look at the world literally through rose-colored plastic, or pull each one away from it’s descriptive sheet to make a shiny see-through rainbow colored fan.

Flash forward to my first one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, and I’m suddenly given the opportunity to choose paint colors for each room. Here’s where one normally learns to try a section of “pistachio” on the wall before assigning the landlord the task of covering the living room in what actually looks more like “pea soup.” Further experiments were equally unsuccessful, until I realized that I wasn’t really interested in using the colors in the swatch book quite so much as I was in just having the swatch book to just leaf through for inspiration.

When my friends Steve and Heidie were choosing paint colors for their apartment, they asked me to use my visual expertise to help them decide. My professional side is a lot more practical, so when it came to picking out colors other people would have to pay for and live with, I was able to reign in my imagination and be much more selective (and realistic), and the results were fabulous.

As a graphic designer. I’ve been using Pantone Matching System (PMS) books for years already. PMS inks are very specific, and aren’t part of the normal four color printing process (CMYK), but Pantone does make a guide that helps designers specify a CMYK mixture that will emulate, if not duplicate, a PMS. They also make swatch books which help designers see how CMYK mixtures will look on paper, as opposed to the brighter, backlit way they look on screen while we’re working.

Enjoy the commercials. Enjoy the possibility.