“The colour schemes in my work tend to be stolen from a look that’s stuck in my mind for some reason,” says Eleni Kalorkoti (elenikalorkoti.com) of her comic-book-like art. “I’ve used grey, red and pink a few times, which I think I got from Philip Guston’s paintings, which I love. I like using a limited palette and always find it useful to have a jumping-off point like this for thinking about colour.”
Thomas Burden, who works under the moniker There Will Be Unicorns (therewillbeunicorns.com), is inspired by classic English children’s illustration from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. “If I do stick to any rules, then it’s subconsciously,” he says. “I’m not particularly au fait with colour theory. I just use my eyes, or quite often I’ll work to found colour palettes from old books or bits of tat I find at car-boot sales.
“The quality of the printing in all the old children’s books I find is always so amazing. The colours are so vibrant and the passage of time adds an extra dimension of texture and depth.”
Naturally, fashion and other fields will also inform our colour sensibilities. But whichever trends you follow, letting them dominate your work isn’t the best strategy if you want to be known for being distinctive. As Scot puts it: “It’s inevitable that we all become influenced by trends that surround us, but [at La Boca] we make a conscious effort to avoid design trends at all costs.
“Like fashion, trends in design come and go, and if you chase them you’re always running in second place. As [American designer] Ray Eames said: ‘What works good is better than what looks good. Because what works good lasts.’ ”
Eleni, who includes Russian theatre and Bauhaus graphic design among her inspirations, agrees. “I don’t consciously change my work in line with current trends, but I suspect that some stuff just creeps in unintentionally. [That said,] your own perspective is ultimately the only thing about your work that you can guarantee nobody else has, so protecting that is incredibly important.”
Dutch graphic design duo Mark Moget and Taco Sipma, otherwise known as Sauerkids (sauerkids.com), are also happy to let trends pass them by. “When we spot a trend in illustration, we try to stay away from it as far as possible. In the world of Sauerkids, cowboy suits and Hawaiian music are still the trend.”