5 Places to go for Colour Inspiration


But, the thing is, I reckon most people tune out much of that everyday colour that they see, and possibly even the thing they’re seeing too.  I’m not saying you have to be specifically looking for inspiration in order to find it either but I guess that whilst we might have colour surrounding us we still need to be properly aware in order to get it’s full impact. And fortunately there are certain places we can go and visit that will subconsciously sharpen our awareness. 

Some of these work better for me than others at different times - so much of it depends on who else is with me, how much time I’ve got and, frankly, what sort of deadlines I’m up against.  But without fail at least two of these will hit the mark and send me off ready to pull a palette together and start refining it.  



I won’t pretend that my camera roll isn’t largely full of kids pictures and screen shots of things to remember or share, and I doubt I’m alone.  But in amongst the random snaps, if you just keep scrolling a bit slower than normal, I bet there’s pictures deeply hidden in your photo library that you can appreciate with a new eye.  Maybe it’s to do with colourful clothes people were wearing, flowers that you saw out walking, a pretty sunset that you snapped out of the window.  Have a scroll and see what catches your eye and I think you could be pleasantly surprised!

Three interiors magazines are open, piled on a marble tabletop.


Many interior magazines have a large focus on trends but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and nor is the more limited palettes they can sometimes demonstrate (especially on the ‘get this look’ sort of product pages).  In fact the limited palettes can be just as eye opening to different colour proportions and balances.  Plus, it's especially noticeable with interiors that although the palette may look more limited the chances are they’ll make up for it in texture and that in itself is a great lesson to keep hold of too. 


This one is potentially the most unexpected and I realise that not everyone will use or even interact with makeup regularly.  But, as with fashion, makeup collections move with trends and seasons and personally I think walking down the aisles of Boots to see what the high street is offering is a bit quicker and easier than looking up this seasons fashions, making it perfect for a little colour boost. Eyeshadow palettes can be great for seeing various tones and hues working together, often with a colour pop in there too, and even nail varnish mini collections can be the perfect quick start a larger palette can grow from. Also, don’t forget to take note of the marketing around the collections too - they’ll often have a stylish photography, an aspirational lifestyle element and a great font, all of which you can draw on too. 



Patterns in Nature, a book by Philip Ball, is lying closed on a marble table top.

No list would be complete without acknowledging the original colour-palette inspiration resource - nature.  Yes, it’s a broad catch-all but with a little steer from something that may have caught your eye, or you’re just a little curious about, nature and natural history photography will answer your call with the most exquisite range of colours and textures.  Whether you type it in to google, head to the library or watch some of the fabulous nature documentaries we can watch again (BBC Blue Planet being one of my favourites of all time), as a starting point they’re just fabulous as well as awe inspiring too.  I’m personally a big fan of a giant coffee table photography book, as so often the scale and detail in the imagery is just as inspiring as the colours, and something that can be great to play with too. 

(By the way, this book by Philip Ball is one of my favourites of recent years, and there’s some other fascinating sounding titles that he’s written too. www.philipball.co.uk/books )


An ipad is leaning on a knee, with the screen full of a Pinterest board of animal print and related patterns, fashion etc.


Another one no list could really be without.  One of my favourite aspects of Pinterest is the ability to curate - whether it’s just a general scroll through what their algorithm has considered for you, or if you’re searching broad terms to narrow down later.  The joy is the ability to manage and then consider, work through and narrow down what you may have saved to the point you can see themes and adapt it to serve the purpose that you need it too.  All whilst delivering visually stimulating and inspiring content. From a design perspective there are certainly times when Pinterest can be lent on far too heavily, and that is something personally I’m incredibly wary of and you should be too. But as a starting point for uncovering subconscious themes and seeing what you’re drawn to, especially for colour palettes, I think it’s a really brilliant tool.

So there you go - five places to start looking for colour inspiration if you’re feeling a little lost. When it comes to creativity I definitely believe that it’s a muscle that needs to be regularly used to keep it in top condition, but that can be so hard with so many competing things to juggle.  So do give some of these a try, incorporating short ‘n’ sharp exercises using one or two or them, and I’m sure they’ll be a great bit of respite and a source of joy for you at the very least. 

I hope they come in useful, and if you do spot any palettes or create some after using these tips then do let me know - I’d love to see them! 

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