Pantone’s 2020 Color: Combining Dependability and Boldness

March 23 2020 – Chelsea Vincent

Decorating with Basic Blue | Nelson Makes Art
Decorating with Basic Blue | Nelson Makes Art

Why We Love Classic Blue


Big Blue – Perfect for Pantone’s 2020 Color of the Year


With all that’s going on in the world right now, we’re all feeling some mixed emotions. Watch the news, track Facebook, binge-eat whatever’s in the pantry – you get where this is going. But we’re also realizing that this will not be a quick fix, and that we’ll be spending a lot of time inside in the coming weeks or months. 

To that end, people are starting to find ways to plant a little more joy. From cooking to home workouts, from projects around the home to supporting freelancers online, there’s a lot we can do right now to stay positive and to surround ourselves with moments of wonder.

One thing this strange shift has given us is more time to think about our surroundings. So for all those who might have In case you missed it, the 2020 color of the year was announced: 

Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue

(Now say it out loud – nineteen, fourty, fifty-two, classic blue. It even rhymes. You’re welcome.)

Described by Pantone as “emblematic of heritage but at the same time highly contemporary,” there’s a lot to love about Classic Blue right now. We’re in an election year, starting a new decade, and being challenged to rally for the health of our communities and country. Yet, we’re looking to the future with optimism and innovation. 

But when did “color of the year” start? What does it mean? Why is it a thing?


Color classification helps everyone from designers to DIY-ers


After getting its start in the 1960s, Pantone became respected as the color classification system, helping the print industry to effectively communicate and match colors. Fast forward to 2000, when Pantone debuted Cerulean as its first color of the year. A few years later, this event became the trend of the year for designers, graphic artists, decorators, and artists – anyone with a focus on color in their work.

So why do we care about color so much? Easy – it impacts how we feel, every single day.

The Psychology of Color

If you’ve ever taken an art class, you probably learned some of the basics behind color, like primary and secondary colors, which colors mix well with others, et cetera. If you’ve seen a video of Nelson painting, you’ve seen him mixing colors on a palette. 

But did you know that color also has deep-rooted associations with our psychology?

Some of these associations depend on cultural associations and beliefs. For example, white is viewed in much of the western world as symbolizing purity. Yet in some parts of Asia, it symbolizes mourning. Generally speaking, there are some global commonalities.

For instance, red makes us feel and appear confident. Green, the same color as many plants, represents money and growth. Blue instills in us a sense of deep trust, among other things.

A simple, colorful door can change our emotions

Perhaps because our skies and oceans are blue, we feel this color is steady and stable (and you can see why we call loyal or long-time friends “true blues”). In fact, blue used in company stores or logos increases perceived value and trustworthiness amongst consumers. 

There’s more to this patriotic color than trustworthiness. Blue is also said to stimulate intellectual activity and logic, in addition to encouraging reflection, zen-like calm, and clarity. And in a surprising yet hopeful application, it looks like blue may also be useful in reducing suicide rates, which would be a remarkable way to keep exploring how art can help people.

Trends with Pantone Blue

If you’re thinking of ways to incorporate Pantone’s Classic Blue into your environment this year, there are many options to add this soothing, relatable color to your life.

Color blocking has been around for a long time and is very fashionable right now. You can color block with several approaches, including: 

  • combining several blue hues, including Classic Blue
  • combining Classic Blue with nude (beige, tan, etc) or very neutral colors (white, grey, brown, black, etc)
  • combining Classic Blue with a bright orange (as they are opposites on the color wheel)

Art tiles are a great way to feature blue color blocks

Another fun way to bring Classic Blue into your life is by following a monochrome setup. In a monochrome color scheme, you use varying tones of one color, like blue. 

An easy way to imagine this is like a grey-scale image if it was done in blue. Monochrome panels, for example, can add dimension to a wall, while various room elements in varying tones of Classic Blue can add elegance and depth to a space.

Any of these options can be adapted to the clothing combinations you wear, the makeup or accessories you choose, or the artwork and gifts you display or give – there are lots of choices for fun applications this year.

Does Classic Blue represent anything special for you? We’d love to hear about it below, or on Instagram! And don’t forget to subscribe to the brand new Nelson Makes Art newsletter, where you can stay updated with new art, information, recipes, and travel thoughts. 




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