Trend Spotting 101

Don’t you wish you had a crystal ball to tell you what the latest trends are going to be? Do you know someone who always seems to know what is “hot”? As a designer and artist, it is important to identify trends, but, it is not as difficult as you may think. Trends can be ever changing, but with a little “system” you can be that “someone”. Whether you paint for profit or use your skills to decorate your life and home, a basic understanding of trends can give you an incredible edge. Increasing your awareness of trends take a bit of practice and requires a conscious investment of time-but don’t worry you are probably practicing some of the traits of great trend spotters already! Did you ever wonder how the major clothing, department, paint and designer stores all seem to come out with the same colors and styles at the same time? For a long time, I wondered the same thing. A while ago, I signed up for a class at a tradeshow that talked about the color trend companies and how they predict, publish trends, and sell their predictions to major manufacturers. Long before you are even introduced to a “trend” color palette for a particular timeframe, manufacturers were busy working on fabric combinations, graphics, styles, etc. It is important to note that trends are area specific. If you study what is “hot” in California, Europe or New York, you will see that they may be ahead or behind your particular area. Capitalize on this knowledge to spot trends before they get to your area. When I moved from California to live in Idaho, I bought all of my home décor with me to incorporate in my new digs. I decorated my daughter’s room in sunflowers and my students thought I was so clever. About 4 years after I had moved and got tired of the decorations, the sunflower trend hit Idaho and it was HUGE-of course, I took full credit for starting the trend and made note of what was popular each time I went back to California to visit family. Be a detective Become more aware of the details, components, and just what makes up the products that you see. Watch for common colors, patterns, textures, styles, and elements. Once you make it your business to pay attention to small details, you will be surprised at how many clues you find. Each year, I collect clippings from catalogs, magazines, internet sites, blogs and ads and place them in an inexpensive notebook to use as reference as I design. I use it often for ideas, inspiration and when I need a little dose of confidence. I am really lucky that I get to travel to different places, but you can easily find trends in the comfort of your own place. Drag out your favorite magazines and catalogs and give yourself permission to CUT THEM UP. I get current magazines at my local library that are donated and then sold for 10¢ each. Bring that magazine/catalog along the next time you are waiting for your child to finish swimming or violin lessons, and you won’t believe how quick the time goes. Stow a pair of scissors and a few plastic bags to help you keep your treasures organized. Take advantage of technology Television can be a great trend spotting tool. Take a break to watch one of the latest home improvement shows, (you can tell your family it is homework), make notes on the colors, patterns, styles and techniques they are presenting. Soap operas, sit-coms and movies can launch/reinforce trends. Forget the story line and look in detail at the set and scenery. Pay attention to the clothing and even the hair colors and styles they wear. You don’t have to feel guilty about watching TV now that it is part of your research assignment! It used to take a while before we would be introduced to a new trend, but the internet has closed that gap for us. Use your computer to read blogs, research how-to sites, and chat. Make it a habit to study colors and textures everywhere you go! Take a field trip. Check out the color pamphlets from Car dealers, check out furniture and colors used in model homes, art galleries, and clothing stores. Visit a variety of stores Home improvement stores: Pick up paint chips, laminate swatches, and how-to magazines. Fabric stores: Gather fat quarters with unusual color combinations, designs, colors, and textures. Furniture stores: Look at the construction, shapes, styles of the pieces, check out lampshades, fabric on the furniture, wallpaper and groupings. Garden stores/florists and grocery stores: Let nature be your guide with color combinations, textures and unusual pots and containers. Study vegetables, leaves and stems, flower shapes. Make sketches of your favorites. Department stores: Target, Cost Plus, Pottery Barn, Pier One, Linens Plus, etc. Super trend setters! Check out colors on sheets, towels, appliances and packaging. What is with all that turquoise I have been seeing everywhere? Go back to the future Remember the 60’s, 70’s? Didn’t you think Lime Green was gone forever? Through continual exposure, trends have a sneaky way of convincing us they might not be so bad after all. Study the loop to predict the next stage. This year, when I attended the convention for the Society of Decorative Painters, I noticed the comeback of stenciling, delft blue liner designs and doodle art. Use what you learn Pick and choose, expand on or integrate, individualize or incorporate elements of what you find into the art you create or design. Trends should never limit you, but expand your ideas and creativity. Your goal should never be to copy someone's work, but to recognize it, take inspiration from it. For instance, if dimension and texture are popular, can you add dimensional objects to your designs or incorporate fabrics or products with additional tactile appeal? How can you take your own specialty and implement elements of the trends? How can you use your skills, brushes and techniques to easily accomplish these goals? Think about the background and use a large brush to slip slap color combinations or create a solid, dramatic background. Use your trusty round brush and casually start your design with a few comma or s- strokes, then enhance them with a little shading and highlighting. Add borders and outlines with your favorite liner brush and Voila! you have a design Think about incorporating or beginning a design with a comma stroke or s-stroke, then add lines, highlighting and shading in the latest colors. You will be amazed at what you can come up with by using your brushes and a little imagination! Be the trendsetter Trends have to begin somewhere. If you are known for a particular theme, color or innovation and know it is great-go for it! Remember that trends have to start somewhere! Wouldn’t it be fun for me to cut out your fabulous trend and put it in my reference journal


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