18 May 2022. Kendal based papermaker, James Cropper, has announced the launch of The James Cropper Colour Academy. The two-year educational programme has been designed by in-house specialists to develop colour technicians with unrivalled colour knowledge and expertise.

Blending technical and colour skill within the business, the Academy aims to build on the prestige paper innovator’s reputation for world-renowned colour expertise.

Addressing the issue of succession planning, the Academy will ensure cross pollination of skills and resources between the papermaker’s colour lab and its colour blending team.

With 176 years of papermaking heritage, James Cropper has established itself as a highly-credible colour expert. Its on-site colour lab holds around 2,000 live shades with some 200,000 colours stored electronically.

James Cropper colour18lrThe Academy launches as the papermaker invests in a state-of-the-art colour control cabin for its colour blending facility, providing the team with a constant overview of the colour blending process while in operation. The investment in its technical capabilities and the Colour Academy is in direct response to the increasing significance of colour in brand identity and packaging design.

The academy will welcome its first recruits in September. The first year of the programme will focus on fibres, pulp and stock preparation and the second will focus on colour – lab-matching and working alongside the blender teams. The output will standardise processes, procedures and skill-sets for colour across the business, while also documenting technical know-how as and when solutions are developed.

Mark Starrs, Technical Lead for Colour at James Cropper, who has been instrumental in the creation of the Colour Academy syllabus, says: “We are living in transformative times and as such, we’re seeing more and more brands, from across a spectrum of sectors, claim specific colours to communicate who they are and what they stand for.

“The Wall Street Journal recently reported how Valentino’s Fall 2022 show focused on a unique shade of pink, which showed how brands are using colour to supplement its branding in a visual era. This year, we even saw Pantone introduce a completely new shade as its Colour of the Year - the first time in Pantone history.

“Colour is undoubtedly one of the top priorities for the paper industry which makes the launch of our very own Academy incredibly exciting today and for the future of James Cropper. We are at the forefront of colour technology and it’s crucial we nurture the next generation to ensure James Cropper continues to be world-renowned for decades to come.”

The news of the Academy comes as the papermaker releases research conducted with 500 UK designers to further understand colour and what is influencing brands’ colour choices. The study was compared to predictions made in James Cropper’s 2019 Progressive Palettes Report and found that political unrest, climate change and most prominently the global pandemic have re-wired how designers are approaching colour choices.

In the original study, designers predicted that technology would be the top influence on colour by 2029. However, 2022 research shows that only 8% of designers think technology has influence on colour trends today, compared to 22% in 2019. Instead, social media and environmental consciousness have taken the lead.[1]

Likewise, social influences now have gravitas according to 20% of the pulse survey sample, compared with only 10% in the 2019 report.

With more of the population spending time outdoors these past two years, it comes as no surprise that nature has also become a major driver of colour choices.