James and I met back in 2011 when I used a series of his photographs for my chapter on Colour in Interiors for the industry text book Colour Design: Theories and Applications. We’ve kept in touch crossing paths many times at design industry events and earlier this year at the Crystal Palace Artists’ Open House, where I took this photo. I was thrilled he agreed to share his love of colour with us…
What is your earliest colour memory?
Arranging my mother’s shoe cupboard by colour!
What does colour mean to you?
Everything! I have always surrounded myself with colour, from interiors to clothing. I once went through a slightly regrettable purple phase!
Do you have a favourite colour or a colour that you find yourself constantly drawn to? And why?
Green, in all its hues from acid/citrus tones, emerald and teal, through to olive (wearing right now) and sludgy grey green. Both natural and calming, while also invigorating.
Do you have a colour that you least like? And why?
Every colour has its place, so NO! And fashions change anyway, if you like a colour one minute, you can guarantee your opinion will change.
What do you love most about working with colour?
It defines what I do, along with light and shade, form and counter-form.
What do you think your life would be like without colour?
Deprived and soulless.
Were you ever afraid or wary of colour? And what did you do to overcome this?
Never! Although colour could be quite restricting when I was at boarding school. Grey uniforms all week, and general disapproval of expressive use of colour (except in the art room), as somehow unmasculine.
Do you have a favourite colour place that you visit (or have visited)?
Bottle alley on Hastings seafront, a 1930s concrete beach promenade studded with broken coloured glass. A sort of poor man’s Park Guell!
For anyone afraid of colour what would your number 1 piece of advice be?
What have you got to lose? What’s the worst that could happen, it’s only colour! Maybe start small with a bright orange cushion, or green pair of socks, and work up!
Which colourful person do you most admire and would love me to interview for the On the Colour Couch series?
Well Anna Jacobs is pretty amazing! I think you’ve met her already. And Sarah Campbell, fabric designer, who is surely worthy of a lifetime achievement award when it comes to colour.
I pleased to hear that living a school life in grey didn’t dampen James’ love of colour. And it just so happens that Anna Jacobs is going to be on The Colour Couch next month!
If you would like to discover more about James’ colourful world, then head over to his Instagram @jamesbalston.
Wishing you a colourful day,