Behind the Scenes with David Schwen’s #PantonePairings!

  • by betsym
  • posted Mar 07, 2013

David Schwen aka dschwen of Sanswich and Woodchucks fame is an 18-times-printed Threadless artist. The Minneapolis-based illustrator and art director makes the rest of us look like slackers with the tireless creativity he dedicates to his personal projects, many of which he shares with the world on Instagram. We didn’t think it was possible for @dschwen to become more Instagram famous, but he went out and did just that with #PantonePairings.

Here’s how he described how the project came about on the Instagram blog, “As a designer, you’re constantly picking color chips and pairing them up with one another. A while back I had an idea of making Pantone chips out of real household objects—sponges, cardboard, and the like. But while I was finishing up a poster design, I had taped two Pantone chips together to see how they looked next to one another. Instantly I thought of how people pair food together, and that was that. Pantone pairings.”

We were hungry for more info on #pantonepairings, so we asked David a few questions about them:

What is your favorite real life Pantone Pairing?

My favorite pairing, is probably one that you might see posted very shortly. And, if anyone knows me, they can probably guess it. Wink, wink. Need I say more…?

Have you tried any Pantone Pairings that just didn’t work?

Absolutely. Many actually. The pairings with liquids have been pretty tough to figure out. Probably my biggest failure was oil and vinegar. I might figure out a way to do it, but it's a tough one.

Do you eat them after you’re finished?

Haha - not usually. I usually shoot the pairings in the mornings, so you can imagine that potatoes and gravy doesn't sound all that appetizing with your morning coffee. Although, I have to admit, the cookie didn't survive long after I shot it.

Do you use real food for everything? Is that really milk in the milk and cookies?

It's pretty interesting that you asked that. I actually have used all the real food for every shot. I planned on cheating with the milk and cookie by using white elmer's glue for the milk. But it didn't look real. It looked like glue. So after I figured out how to make the milk work, everything else started to feel less daunting.

The possibilities are endless! Will Pantone Pairings ever end?

They are endless, and I don't plan on ever ending. However, this first series will be finishing up after 20 (one more left). I'm going to make editions of 50 prints for the 20 different pairings. But I'll continue to make pairings. It's too much fun, and it's been exciting to see how people are reacting towards them.

When will the prints be available?

<strike>Soon. I am working with a printer to finalize everything. I'm hoping to have it all finished up by next week, and make them available for sale on Stay tuned.</strike> Prints are here! Check to buy yours.

Watch this
briancook profile pic Alumni
Farnell said:

love these but how does he get away with copyright with Pantone??

I was wondering the same thing!

jeffreyg profile pic Alumni

david awesome, such a creative bastard.

jeffreyg profile pic Alumni

david is awesome*


It's pretty neat seeing his stuff whenever I open up the ol' instagram. Is Dschwen Kings of Leon, because this dude is on fire. B|

jaypaulo profile pic Alumni

So cool!!

GRANDR profile pic Alumni

Go David!!


that ham and cheese looks too good!

Mr Rocks
Mr Rocks profile pic Alumni

you're a fucking weird dude mr Schwen.. fucking talented..but fucking weird too.


just more to Schwoon over

Farnell said:

love these but how does he get away with copyright with Pantone??

If Pantone was smart, they would beg David Schwen to use these for some marketing campaign.

I'm getting ready to put together a video for our customers at folderprinters, on Pantone colors and I can't believe I stumbled upon this. All I can say is awesome. Roll out the Pantone Pairing shirts!

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