A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting color expert Leatrice Eiseman, who works directly with the Pantone® Color Institute to forecast the color trends. In fact, when Pantone® introduced the color of the year for 2017, “Greenery,” I immediately thought of Ms. Eiseman and her vision and creativity. Green is not my color and I won’t be following this particular fashion color trend, but I am reminded of that conversation with Ms. Eiseman, and why she is called the “International Color Guru!” Here is Ms. Eiseman …
MKG: What is the Pantone® Color Institute?
Leatrice: At its core, the Pantone® Color Institute is a think tank for Pantone®; a place for people to go to find out about the psychology of color. I have been the Executive Director since its inception in 1985, when the (then) owner of Pantone® wanted to go beyond the technology of color. Today we are involved in color consulting, color forecasting, and we help our clients make informed decisions about color for their brands or products to gain a competitive edge.
MKG: How does Pantone® come up with its Color of the Year?
Leatrice: It is an interesting process. I and my team comb the world to investigate what colors we feel are on the ascending. When you travel as much as we do, we have a good idea where color is heading. We look to various indicators: the art world, entertainment, the film industry, social upcoming events (is it an Olympics year, etc.), and of course, the fashion industry. We ask where are the top designers going with the color family. There is no magic bullet; it takes a lot of homework and asking a lot of questions to find the Color of the Year.
MKG: What is your personal relationship with color?
Leatrice: For me, it started in my childhood. I had a fascination with color and nothing made me happier than having a rainy day to be left on my own to play. I grew up in Baltimore; my Aunt lived with us and she loved costume jewelry. We had a very big foot stool and I remember arranging the jewelry and colors on the foot stool. My mother and my Aunt were fascinated with my interest and I remember they began to ask my advice, even as a young child, about what colors go together. As I grew up, people continued to ask my opinion. You can always appreciate color and have fun with it, but if you are lucky enough to have a talent as I did, it is a gift. I do feel, however, that there is the opportunity to learn more about color and how to use it, whether professionally or personally. That is why I started both an online program for personal color consulting (morealivewithcolor) as well as an “in person” class for those who want to learn more about the psychology of color, consumer color preferences, and color trends (see details below).
MKG: What do you think is the connection between color and self expression?
Leatrice: Color is about emotion. If you allow yourself to experience that and not be concerned with others’ opinions then you will have fun with color. In the end, have the strength in conviction to follow what you like. Most people relate to color as it appears in nature and these associations are embedded in our psyche. We draw on these associations throughout our life …
Certain areas in Europe and Asia live in color. In Indonesia they celebrate color on special Sunday feast days. On that day, a single color is celebrated and everyone wears it. However, the world is embracing color; there has been an evolvement, with much more exposure now in magazines, books on decorating, etc …
Today Ms. Eiseman is the color expert: as Head of Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training and Executive Director of the Pantone® Color Institute she is responsible for forecasting and selecting Pantone®’s Color of the Year. In addition, Ms. Eiseman is the author of nine books on color, including: More Alive With Color, which outlines the color/fashion connection.