Hay’s Daze: The legally official compulsory colour of the year

Perhaps I’ll go with a little sarcoline today. Or maybe a nice gloucous or fulvous T-shirt would match my mood. Nope, I think I’ll wear some wenge – I’m feeling kind of dark-brown-with-copper-undertones lately.

These are the kind of thoughts the good people at a place called the Pantone Colour Institute have filling their brains on an on-going basis. I’d never heard of the Pantone Colour Institute until I read a recent article in The Advocate that this institute had, with some significant fanfare, announced the 2018 Colour of the Year. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a Colour of the Year. I did know that this new year is the Year of the Dog in China on account of I like dogs, and it’s not that I don’t like colours, I just didn’t know there were so many of them. Or that they could represent a whole year. I mean, let’s face it, colours aren’t dogs, now are they.

So as you already are no doubt thrilled to know the 2018 Colour of the Year (which is quite important because it’s in capital letters) is “Ultra Violet.” Ultra violet is that “deep purple hue” which, according to the institute “communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future … with a marriage of complexity between passionate red violets and the strong indigo purples.” These folks take their colours a tad seriously, right? I mean when thinking about colour, my usual response is: “blue, I kind of like blue.” Or sometimes: “red is pretty good.”

But good on ya if you knew that sarcoline is “flesh coloured.” gloucous is “the blue-green colour of the coating on grapes and plums, and fulvous describes the colour of the “brownish-yellow feathers on a duck.” And if you knew smaragdine means “emerald green” you must be either a super-fan of soft spoken TV artist Bob Ross, an overzealous interior designer or a charter member of the Pantone Colour Institute. Extra points if you knew that smaragdine with the official colour of the year back in 2013, and, if you really think about it, I suppose 2013 could be described as “sort of green.”

But all this begs – practically screams the question: “Colour of the Year – really?” Isn’t declaring an official annual hue about as useful as a chocolate teapot, an ashtray on a motorcycle, a screen door on a submarine? The Pantone Colour Institute would beg to differ.

Colour consultation is big business and a big deal. If somebody can sell you an ultra violet Toyota instead of a black Ford because everybody is feeling more or less “ultra violet-y” this year, all those smooth-talking car pushers out there really want to know that.

It’s all about alchemy. It’s about magically transforming any popular colour into gold. Already there are companies that have come out with shower heads that shine ultra violet light that “turns bathing into purple rain”, and as 2018 trudges along, expect a plethora of purple coloured cocktails and violet flowers. Stores will be positively glowing with violet merchandise, more people will be rocking out with purple hair. Radio stations will be playing Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix, and every song by the purple-obsessed Prince.

And a quick reminder to all you dog owners – since 2018 is officially the cosmic convergence of the Year of Dog and the Year of Ultra-Violet, it is now required by law that all dogs be dyed purple until the end of this year. I’ll be looking for you.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer writer and film maker.

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