by Deb Shaw

Many of us began our first forays into art and color with a box of crayons at a young age. Crayola Crayons, according to their website, began in 1885, when two cousins, Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith took over Edwin’s father’s pigment business. At the time, they used pigments such as red oxide (used as barn paint), and carbon black (used in car tires). In 1903, Crayola produced the first box of eight  wax-based crayons, at 5 cents each box. Those original colors included: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown, and black. The original limited palette.

Flash forward to 2010 (when the graphics in this post were created) and you’ll find 120 colors in the Crayola color box! New colors come with new and interesting names, such as: “Cerise” (a dark, cool, violet-red), “Outer Space,” “Inchworm,” and “Atomic Tangerine.” We can be completely sympathetic; as botanical artists, we, too, face the marketing of an expanding universe of new professional colors with new names each year.

Stephen Von Worley’s graphic showing the expansion of Crayola colors from the original eight crayons. To view an interactive graphic, where rolling your mouse over a color displays the color’s name, go to: http://www.datapointed.net/visualizations/color/crayola-crayon-chart-bow/

Stephen Von Worley’s graphic showing the expansion of Crayola colors from the original eight crayons. To view an interactive graphic, where rolling your mouse over a color displays the color’s name, go to: http://www.datapointed.net/visualizations/color/crayola-crayon-chart-bow/

On his website, Data Pointed, artist, scientist and data visualization researcher Stephen Von Worley gives credit to a pseudonymous friend with whom he works, called “Velociraptor.” Together, they created a series of data graphics showing a visual crayon chronology in two articles: “Color Me A Dinosaur: The History Of Crayola Crayons, Charted” and “Somewhere Over The Crayon-Bow: A Cheerier Crayola Color Chronology.”

Data Pointed explores the best methodologies for conveying information and data visually. Interesting to me was the evolution of his crayon color graphic. The original article “Color Me A Dinosaur” displayed the crayon chronology in a square format. The story was picked up quickly over the web, and has recently seen renewed interest. Stephen was interested in the audience reaction to the square, and, in his second article on the subject, “Somewhere Over the Crayon-Bow,” he re-visits his graphic, working on portraying the same information in different visual formats to see the effects.

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