Oh snap, I missed it

Yep, I missed the December 1 announcement of Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2023 — Viva Magenta 18-1750! Are you not delighted? Excited? Thrilled beyond words? (about the announcement, not my missing it)

I realize color is Pantone’s business. It’s what they do. And their employees are paid to produce and promote COLOR. But year after year the breathless suspense, the overwrought descriptions of a glorious color that will promote world peace, end hunger and global warming, make all things irresistable — whew! All the press coverage (now including yours truly, I suppose) gets more than a little ridiculous.

This year’s description:

Pantone’s Color of the Year, Viva Magenta 18-1750, vibrates with vim and vigor. It is a shade rooted in nature descending from the red family and expressive of a new signal of strength. Viva Magenta is brave and fearless, and a pulsating color whose exuberance promotes a joyous and optimistic celebration, writing a new narrative.

This year’s Color of the Year is powerful and empowering. It is a new animated red that revels in pure joy, encouraging experimentation and self-expression without restraint, an electrifying, and a boundaryless shade that is manifesting as a stand-out statement. PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta welcomes anyone and everyone with the same verve for life and rebellious spirit. It is a color that is audacious, full of wit and inclusive of all.

But that prose wasn’t purple enough, so the executive director carried on:

“In this age of technology, we look to draw inspiration from nature and what is real. PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta descends from the red family, and is inspired by the red of cochineal, one of the most precious dyes belonging to the natural dye family as well as one of the strongest and brightest the world has known.

Rooted in the primordial, PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta reconnects us to original matter. Invoking the forces of nature, PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta galvanizes our spirit, helping us to build our inner strength.”

Leatrice Eiseman
Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute

Viva Magenta. If the name doesn’t get your attention, perhaps the hype will: “Welcome to the Magentaverse!” Seriously? That cluttered opening illustration repels as much it attracts. I don’t know what it’s supposed to convey but it reminds me of scaley alien skin (to go with the face?) or maybe, here in the American west, our drying lake beds.

On my computer screen it doesn’t look like the magenta I recall, the “M” of CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) that I knew thoughout my career in print media. The New York Times came closer to “my” magenta with this illustration:


The magenta I think of, the “M” in CMYK, looks like this, from “Everything about the color Magenta”:

By comparison, Pantone’s website displays the color chip below. I trust you can see the difference, even if computer screen colors can vary slightly. Pantone’s magenta reminds me of tomato soup.

14 thoughts on “Oh snap, I missed it

  1. Of course I agree with you – what halfwit wouldn’t !?
    I also agree with your comparison with tomato soup rather than with any other true magenta.
    Everyone knows magenta isn’t RED, for crying out loud ..

  2. You missed the big day. Well recaptured the magic moment by special ordering a new collar for Charley in Viva Magenta 18-1750. Then your new puppy’s nickname can be Campbells or Warhol.

    1. He’d be very handsome in red — not magenta. It will probably be my next choice if or when I get another collar. Or I could just tie a red bandana over the whole thing.

    1. I’m guessing the Navy confirmed something as important as vision and color distinction. But certainly there are colors very close to the line, like a greenish blue or the popular greige tones. And lighting can make a huge difference. Pantone’s descriptions mention red rather often so clearly that’s their intent. Personally I’ve always thought of magenta as as pink, a bluish pink.

  3. Nothing will ever beat 2014’s Radiant Orchid. But I like this version of magenta and welcome it to decor and clothing. Hey, at least it’s not Maga Hat Red.

    1. On its own, it’s a decent red. But to me it will never be magenta. I saw it displayed on tv the other day and it looked a bit better than here. I agree about the orchid. I looked it up and it is gorgeous.

  4. I laughed when it was color reveal day ( and meant to drop by for your comments on the choice, but got distracted – so late commentary is just as good for me)
    In the old Crayon box that color chip would be titled “Indian Red”. Magenta, not.
    I see the color was quickly adopted by Shaq’s printer/ink advertisement.
    (My dad was blocked from joining the Navy due to color blindness which he had never noticed but with ships and channel traffic markers (Red and green marks signals port or starboard. Shades or degrees critical for some things?)

    1. Red/green is the most common color blindness, I think. Not good considering all the stop/go and port/starboard disinctions. Yep, as best I can recall, Indian Red would be about right, although I imagine they had to ditch that name a while back.

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