A couple of years ago I was browsing through all the annual award nominees from Spectrum 24: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art here on MuddyColors (thanks Arnie Fenner for the post!.  For those who may not have heard of this publication, it is a stunning collection representing a broad swath of imagery and talent from the genres of science fiction and fantasy, the juries do their best to select the inclusions each year, yet a massive helping of amazing art winds up on the cutting room floor through the jury process.

It is both humbling and depressing to be a judge (I have done it twice) to see what gets in, and left out.  Yet even with these caveats, the book is a much anticipated addition into my shelves and into the hands of thousands of creatives across the globe, as it is filled with amazing artworks from old, new, known, and unknown voices.  It truly is a wonderful cross section of contemporary fantastic art.

Back to the browsing of Spectrum.  There was a ringing in my ears when I scrolled through all the nominations for awards that year and in an attempt to decipher the cause, I downloaded and collated the thumbnails of each image.  The results were fascinating, and confirmed a trend I had seen and suspected, but never had data to back it up until now. ( If only climate science data were taken 1000 times more seriously than this data set…)

I present my evidence that you can now safely throw away your color palettes, pickers, and paints.  Black & White and Mono-Toned Art now RULES!  In a nutshell:

  • 25% of the art is basically Black and White,
  • 25% is B&W with one color,
  • 25% is highly limited color palette/desaturated/two color complimentary,
  • and the last 25% (maybe 20%?) falls into an approximate ‘full chromatic’ approach to image making, and even some of those are questionable.

Admittedly this is not exact science, but the overall desaturated palettes represented here is fairly clear.  Humans are the cause of this data change!  I would like to state that this is not a criticism of the art, these are all wonderful works representing the genre.  Rather this is a look (and hard data) at a trend within our culture for an aesthetic preference, or awareness, of the graphic nature of imagery regardless of its color attributes. We have all likely noticed this within movies, tv series, mainstream advertising, etc. It is indeed fun and educational to analyze this data, for what does it mean that this is pervading our cultural preferences?



Again here is a link to the large jpgs if you wish to fully enjoy the art!

Spectrum 24 Awards Finalists