• 07.10.12

What Color Are You? A Pantone-Driven Art Project Goes Beyond Black And White

Angelica Dass is recording and cataloguing human skin tones and displaying them against Pantone shades in an effort to collect them all.

Skin color is often spoken of in the most reductive terms. Black, white, brown–each of these colors encompasses countless varieties of shades, even though you’d never know it from reading a casting call notice or a police report. At least one person recognizes the breadth of variety in skin tone, though, and she is out to capture it all.


“Humanae” is an ongoing portrait-based project by artist and photographer Angelica Dass that matches colors to human skin tone, with the aid of the Pantone color system. The goal of the project is to record and catalog every possible human skin tone for posterity. Dass uses an 11 x 11 pixel of each model’s face and assigns the skin tone a Pantone value from it. She then creates a background in that very shade and shoots the subject in front of it. Considering that Pantone is the leading authority on color in the world, the result is a clinical chromatic inventory/art work that shows off how truly colorful we humans can be.

Have a look through some of Dass’s work in the slideshow above.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.