book ℅ octopus publishing
100 years of colour – £14.99
100 years of colour by katie greenwood is a book showcasing art, illustration and design throughout the last century that looks at colour usage in the past 100 years. that alone sold me, but when i actually received and looked at the book? oh. my. heart eyes emoji!
this book goes through each year in each decade from the 1900’s until 1990’s and shows images that were made, popular or had some impact within that time. next to each image is a colour palette comprised of the main colours within the image, repeated to show different combinations, and underneath that the RGB codes if you wish to use these colours within your work. CMYK is at the back of the book.
the book is well designed, and laid out in a way that’s easy to navigate. i love the banded strips on black throughout the book in particular.
each decade starts of with a short essay on significant events that happened within that decade, and how they have an effect on colour use in art and design.
the images chosen for each year aren’t necessarily the ‘most important’ of that time, but they are representative of colour usages and styles within these times. it’s pleasing to flick through the book and see how colour usage changes, and how certain colours always seem to be there, whilst other colours (or colour combinations at least) are a bit more cyclical.
it’s interesting to think that had the author only chosen images that were most popular at these times – rather than perhaps ones that are more standout to artists and designers – would this book be completely different, and maybe more indicative of colour trends?
who really knows, but there are probably other books out there that have taken very popular images throughout art history (mona lisa for example) and studied colour usage throughout the decades in a much more in-depth manner.
what i see this book as being, is one for inspiration, and in particular one that can help you come up with some interesting and varied colour palettes for your work. also, there were quite a few artists and pieces i’d not seen before, so on that viewpoint, it will actually indirectly help me learn more about them.
if you’re a designer, illustrator or artist looking for some colour inspiration (in a way you can directly plug into photoshop or illustrator, too) this book very well serves its need. i’ve picked it up and looked at it SO many times already, just for a burst of colour. however, if you’re looking for something more in-depth in terms of colour theory or are researching colour usage throughout history, i’d still recommend this, but more as a supplement to other books.
overall, if you love colour and illustration, i think you will enjoy this!