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Fashion Colorist - Fashion Career Profile

Written by FS StaffNovember 5, 2011
Fashion Colorists

What do Fashion Colorists do?  Where do Fashion Colorists work? FS takes a look:

About Fashion Colorists

The world is filled with millions of different colors and fashion colorists have the unique ability to identify and recreate many of them. Just think, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of shades of yellow, brown, green, and blue. It is the fashion colorists job to create these colors for designers, clothing manufacturers, and other fashion industry professionals.

Fashion Colorist Jobs

Fashion colorists are responsible for mixing, developing, and creating colors and color palettes for clothing, clothing lines, and textiles. In some cases the designer or other client will have a specific color in mind, and it is up to the colorist to mix it to precise specifications. In others, the colorist might have complete creative freedom to create colors for a client based on the way he or she might interpret them.

Fashion colorists are responsible for more than just color creation. They approve final color palettes, and they also check and receive swatches and fabrics from overseas dyers. They maintain color libraries, manage labs, and develop new techniques for mixing and developing color. They meet with vendors, agents, and mills, and they also develop color standards. 

Fashion colorists may work for department stores, retail chains, clothing manufacturing companies, textile companies, designers, design studios, furniture manufacturers, toy manufacturers, home furnishing manufacturers and designers, production studios, art studios, museums, and academic institutions. 

Fashion Colorist Salaries

Fashion colorists fare well in the world of fashion. Their special skill set makes them one of the most sought after professionals in the industry. Many fashion designers consider colorists a luxury, while others simply won’t do without. At the end of the day, fashion colorists can demand higher salaries, especially if they have the right education and experience.

According to Indeed, fashion colorists living in major cities average around $67,000 up to $95,000. Many of the major cities listed on the site also happen to be fashion capitals. New York fashion colorists average $95,000 per year, while Los Angeles colorists average around $79,000 per year. In Houston, fashion colorists average $67,000 per year. In Chicago and Atlanta they average $80,000 and $81,000 per year, respectively.

In comparison, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fashion designers overall averaged $61,160 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $42,150 and $87,120 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $124,780. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,150.

Programs to Consider:

Becoming a Fashion Colorist

Because fashion colorists work with mixing colors, they come from a variety of backgrounds. Some may have a degree in fashion design, while others may have a degree in fine art, painting, illustration, polymer and color chemistry, interior design, or textile design. Employers prefer a degree in these areas or a related field, as well as a minimum of three years experience in the industry.

There are 300 National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredited postsecondary institutions that offer art and design programs. Most, if not all, offer internships that can help you gain valuable hands on experience. Technical schools and traditional colleges and universities also offer internship programs for chemistry majors, so inquire within.

Job Trends for Fashion Colorists

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report projections for fashion colorists. The Bureau does report projections for the fashion designers overall. Employment of fashion designers is expect to average 1 percent for the 2008-2018 decade. Employment in the textile industry is expected to decline as a result of importing, outsourcing, robotics, and other advancements in manufacturing technology.

Fashion colorists may find work anywhere in the U.S., but some cities offer more opportunities than others do. If you want to go where fashion and art industries thrive, try New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, or Chicago.