Colour (4)

Today’s post comes from a colourful maker. Stacey uses bold shades paired with striking patterns and designs. Grab your cup of warm coffee and let’s read…

I started my career as a graphic designer working mostly in black-and-white. Working at a student newspaper at the local university meant colour was a ultra-special, once a semester treat, thanks to an advertiser who wanted to splurge, so I became well-versed in designing in black-and-white. And varying shades of grey. When I finally got to a publication that had more colour plates than not, I was a little intimidated – rather than go completely overboard with the freedom to use colour, I restrained myself and stuck with hits of colour here and there.

And as the years went on, I developed my design skills and worked with colour more often, in more and more mediums. I learned the difference between CMYK, RBG and web colours and why one couldn’t be used for every situation (I also had the pleasure of explaining to a few editors and managers that you couldn’t do it, either). There were always notebooks on my desk filled with colour codes that I used frequently for different advertisers and artwork. It wouldn’t take me long to figure out which colours printed well at which print shop for each job, something that helped avoid a lot of free ads being run because of wonky colours.

Now I work with my hands in a completely different medium – embroidery. Having worked as a graphic designer for almost a decade, at a fairly wide variety of publications, I have a better understanding of which colours work together well and which ones definitely don’t. One of my former bosses would go behind my back and put the weirdest combinations of colour into ads I’d built – pink, orange and blue into farm equipment ads, green and purple into auto ads… needless to say, I’ve managed to avoid making the same mistakes because the mess of those colours is burned into my mind permanently :)

I enjoy trying new colour combinations with the fabrics I use – mostly cotton solids – and the variety of embroidery flosses. I’m partial to cream and grey fabrics, but there are reds and purples in my stash, as well; I may not necessarily choose pastels for myself, but there’s a wide selection of those colours in my embroidery kit, waiting to be used in an upcoming design. Sometimes, what I think will work together well looks great sitting together on a table, but once it’s actually being put together in a design, it falls apart. But there’s no way of knowing that until the process is begun – I firmly believe there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to working with colours. What one sees as complimentary, another may see as contrary.

I can’t imagine not being able to work with colour. I’ve made a few black-and-white pieces, but they just don’t have the personality colour pieces seem to have. The colours speak to us, bring up emotions and make us think. Black and white do that as well, but not the same way colours do. I may not have a favourite colour – I’ll say blue if someone asks – but I love colour. I can’t imaging going back to the ‘old days’ of working in black-and-white… give me a rainbow anyday :)


Stacey Brown is a crafter, artisan, mom, and procrastinator, living on the Canadian prairies. She loves chocolate and embroidering. Her blog is at & she has a shop at