Potters & Sculptors - Making Rock from Mud
If you've worked in print graphics, you're familiar with Pantone. The Pantone color system solved the problem of chatting with clients, across distances, about colors. Color reference cards in hand on both ends, you could finally be sure you were both on the same page...literally. In addition, Pantone provides software used to calibrate graphics programs and monitors, so that everyone involved in a project is seeing the same colors projected on their screen. Most of us, with various monitors and browsers, see variations that can be small, or disappointingly large--in the case of mismatched purchases.
Pantone provides one service of which every ceramic artist who sells utilitarian work should be aware. They publish upcoming seasons' fashion colors months in advance. These will be the colors of textiles, fabric, clothing, accessories and home goods (including drapes and furniture) consumers will see in the coming year.
Wide-eyed, my teenager asks, "How do they do that!?"
It's good to remember that, despite the fact that consumer clothing is mass produced, the process still takes time. Long before you pulled that tshirt off a rack, there was a cotton harvest of a certain size, predictions regarding the market, production of an adequate amount of dye in various hues to accommodate those predictions, a certain percentage of textiles dyed in each of those hues, and from that textile resource, various fashions designed & brought to market (around February of each year), orders taken from retailers, and then finally, mass production and delivery to your neighborhood store.
Of necessity, upcoming seasons' colors are chosen near the very beginning of that process and as soon as they are known, Pantone is quick to publish the colors, along with anticipated themes (eg. tropical, maritime, culture-referencing).
This allows ceramic artists, producing home goods and accessories, to plan ahead and produce items more likely to coordinate with the colors and themes that will populate the upcoming market.