Me/Niki Irving: Will you tell us a bit about your work, and what the Pantone Project is?
Carley Lee: I’m the Creative Director and owner of Long Live Simple, where we offer meaningful, custom design work for customer-driven and thoughtful brands. Most of our clients are entrepreneurs and creatives – I think you and I have some overlap, in fact, with our customers and audiences.
NI: I think we do! Many of my followers are farmers and gardeners – and many others are entrepreneurs and creative types with an appreciation for beauty.
CL: Exactly! Like me! I follow you on Instagram because I find such inspiration and beauty in your imagery. As a creative, I’m always looking for and nurturing my connection to things that feed my creativity – both online and in the “real” world. And when I visited your farm for the Pantone Project, I was struck by your beautiful process and your hoophouses.
NI: Thank you! I’m so glad. I think it can be easy to try to overperform and overperfect social media presences, and so I keep the flowers as the central focus. I think, in some ways, farming and design are the ultimate exercises in non-attachment. You can have great plans, but things are going to be different than planned.
CL: It’s so true! I think it encourages flexibility and valuing our connections to creativity. Nature is a source of inspiration for me, and it’s how the Pantone Project got started. Pantone is the gold standard of print and digital color manufacturers, and I spend a lot of time in the Pantone world of colors. Each color has a number and a name, and it’s how designers and printers make sure their colors match. It’s our language.
Designers all over the world use Pantone colors, and somebody somewhere first did a #pantonepost on Instagram – a post in which they take a photo of something natural or man-made along with the Pantone color swatch that it matches.
When looking for inspiration for clients’ color palettes, I like to look outside at naturally occurring colors. Back in 2016 during peak leaf season, I took my dog Kota on a walk around our neighborhood and I was mesmerized by the range and depth of colors around me. So I grabbed a bag, collected leaves, and went back to my studio where I matched the each leaf to a Pantone color. I snapped a picture of the leaves, and posted it on Instagram.