New AVT Chair Is a Colorful Character

Posted: October 7, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

Ever wonder why you see very few purple cars on the road? Or why your favorite clothing store is suddenly saturated with green, or yellow or blue with the coming of a new season? Decisions such as these are what color the world of Harold Linton, the new chair of Art and Visual Technology (AVT).

Linton is an expert in color in architecture and design. He is a member of the Color Marketing Group, which helps to forecast colors for all aspects of architecture, product/industrial design and marketing. His book “Color Forecasting” is the recognized resource in the field. When hues such as Orange Popsicle and Galapagos Green push out this season, Linton will know the extensive process that goes into such choices. Everything from the interior of cars to the outside of refrigerators has an extensive amount of research put into it to appeal to the public’s fickle taste and beef up the bottom line.

Harold Linton
Harold Linton
Photo by Evan Cantwell

“You might not realize how many things affect color forecasting,” says Linton. He uses the entertainment field as a prime example. In the 1970s, when Robert Redford wore a pink suit in the movie “The Great Gatsby,” it changed the way designers looked at men’s fashion. Suddenly, men’s dress shirts in rose, pinks and pastels showed up in stores.

“That fashion statement opened the door for designers, and the trend hasn’t died. With leaders such as Alexander Julian, Benetton and Ralph Lauren, the world of men’s fashion has been invigorated with new energy, vision and liberalization of the formal (conservative) approach in color design.”

Color forecasters often look to current events or trends to try to predict the “mood” of society, for these issues affect the design world. For example, when the Olympics come around, interest is revived in earthy and warm neutral colors. Currently, Linton sees a move toward environmental issues—things that are reusable or “green.”

“People are interested in political, global, cultural and geographical concerns today over and above most other issues,” he says. “Public concerns of the environment will affect our consumption and behavior pattern regarding natural resources that will also most certainly be demonstrated in the work of artistic expression and culture at large – and all of this is translated into the public’s buying patterns that express awareness and support for global issues and preferences.”

Linton’s expertise in architecture, painting, design and fine arts education will come in handy at Mason, as he’s set to teach classes in color and design to undergraduate and graduate students at Mason.

And as a member of the planning and design committee for the new AVT building, Linton will use his knowledge to ensure the new building will meet the needs of art and design students. The 85,000-square-foot art facility is scheduled to be completed in 2007.

“The building will be a large functional container that maximizes studio space,” says Linton. “The work spaces will be large and well-lit. It will give much opportunity for creative projects but also be positioned to afford plenty of interaction between areas of concentration in both traditional studio arts and new media.”

Linton previously served as assistant dean of architecture and design at Lawrence Technological University in Michigan and as chair of the Department of Art at Bradley University in Illinois for seven years.

In 2004, Linton was the recipient of a Fulbright-Hays Grant to study cultural life and contemporary social issues in South Africa. Out of that grant, Linton’s photography became part of an exhibition, “The Children of South Africa” which is currently traveling around the United States and which Linton hopes to bring to Mason later this academic year. He is also a leading expert in portfolio design for artists. His book “Portfolio Design: Third Edition” is a bestseller in its field and has been translated into several different languages.

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