We’ve covered quite an array of creative professions for our Best Job Ever series, but this one is truly awe-inducing. Not many get to claim the dream title of ‘Color Specialist,’ but Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute and author Leatrice Eiseman does, and with — dare we say — ‘flying colors.’
Not only is she an expert resource to those in industries including interior and industrial design, but she’s also been a self-employed color consultant for nearly 25 years. Add in her authorship of eight books on color, and Leatrice’s litany of accomplishments is just about as colorful as the paint palettes she works with. Read on for more on how her career came to be!
As a young girl, what did you aspire to be?
A singer (I had a scholarship to the Peabody Institute in Baltimore) and a teacher (I was, and still teach two classes a year on color). I’ve always loved color, though, and knew I would use it some way. I also wanted to be a writer (I’m still doing this, too), and fashion was always appealing to me, but then I wound up teaching about color in that field, as well.
Were you always inspired by color theory?
Not so much theory, although it is important to know about, but the psychology of color and the aesthetics of color. Mixes and combinations were always fascinating.
Can you explain how your academic background in psychology plays a role in your current career?
It was huge, as it gave me the rationale for why people love (or hate) certain colors. The subject always engages people and often allows them to explore their own creativity. Psychology has always been an interest. I have my degree is in psychology and then did advanced work at UCLA, and my professor allowed me to do a practicum that involved color. I used my students as ‘guinea pigs’ as I realized how exciting the subject could be to people.
Inspired? Shop emerald adornments.
What types of fashion trends do you think the Pantone 2013 Color of the Year, emerald, will inspire in 2013?
I think we will see what we have seen before when we announce the Color of the Year. People are fascinated by it and start to look for it or find ways to use it. It doesn’t necessarily mean the whole world will love it, as everyone has personal likes and dislikes — but when they become more aware of the color, it challenges them to find a place for it. It always starts with touches first — in fashion, it could be a pair of sandals, a piece of fun jewelry, a pair of tights, or a scarf, and then what happens is they often want to get more of it.
How does the Color of the Year come to be?
The Color of the Year selection process is very thoughtful and time-consuming. To arrive at the selection each year, Pantone quite literally combs the world looking for color influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films that are in production, traveling art collections, hot new artists, popular travel destinations, and other socioeconomic conditions. Influences may also stem from technology, availability of new textures and effects that impact color, and even upcoming sporting events that capture worldwide attention.
Can you give us a few examples of your daily tasks or favorite projects you’ve worked on?
Right now, I am working on my ninth book and it involves color and fashion. I love the research, choosing the colors. When I work with clients or do my work with and for Pantone, I love doing appropriate color choices and then combining them. That is the really creative part, not to mention choosing a color to give the right message — that’s where the psychology of color comes in. I love teaching the psychology of color in my classes. It can be such an eye-opener to people.
In your opinion, how does color enrich our lives?
Some of us are more aware than others, but the use of color can help make us more creative and increase our comfort level and confidence. I think it is especially important in our living and working spaces, where we spend so much time.
Lastly, we have to ask! What’s your favorite color, and why?
Right now, it’s purple, and it’s been that for a long time. It’s the color of creativity, and I love the complexity of it — a mix of red and blue, diametrically opposed colors in meaning. It’s a bit sensual and active from the red, and meditative and calming from the blue. How much more can you ask of a color? Although, I have to say I’ve never met a color I couldn’t love. All color can work, given the right context and combination.