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That’s my color! Painter’s trademarked colors

Artists' Stories

That’s my color! Painter’s trademarked colors

Did you know, that there are some colors that you can’t use in your art? Such ‘painter’s trademarked colors’ are owned by certain artists, and you cannot legally use them without consulting the artist beforehand. Other could be called ‚signature colors’. Artists used them in so many of their works, that that certain shades are strictly associated with them.

Famous colors trademarked by painters (or otherwise exclusive)

Yves Klein

International Klein Blue, Source: Wikipedia + painter's trademarked colors

International Klein Blue, Source: Wikipedia

International Klein Blue is one of the most famous painters’ trademarked colors, created by Yves Klein (1928-1962), a French artist. It was developed together with Edouard Adam, a paint supplier, with whom Klein cooperated. A deep ultramarine, the color is widely known for its matte look, which makes it so vivid.

Anish Kapoor

Vantablack, Source: Surrey NanoSystems painter's trademarked colors

Vantablack, Source: Surrey NanoSystems

Vantablack is the next example of a painter’s trademarked color – Anish Kapoor (born 1954), a British sculptor, most famous for his large-scale sculptures and site-specific installations. He stirred significant controversy, buying exclusive rights to use the state-of-the-art black paint, called Vantablack which absorbs 99,96% of light that hits it. Shortly, it’s as black as it’s possible. Like, dark hole black. By buying himself that exclusivity and effectively forbidding other artists from using that paint, Kapoor angered a lot of artists, who believe that one person should not be allowed to prevent everyone else from using a certain color.

Stuart Semple

Stuart Semple's colors, Source: painter's trademarked colors

Stuart Semple’s colors, Source:

Responding to the Anish Kapoor Vantablack controversy – and expressing his anger – another British artist, Stuart Semple (born 1980), created what which he calls ‚world’s pinkest pink’ and banned Kapoor from using it. When buying the paint, one has to state, that ‚You are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor.’

Since then, Semple also began selling Yellowest Yellow, Greenest Green and Loveliest Blue, all of which Kapoor is banned from buying.

Tiffany Blue

Tiffany Blue Color, Source: Sweet Sugarbelle painter's trademarked colors

Tiffany Blue Color, Source: Sweet Sugarbelle

That color was created by Charles Tiffany and John Young in 1837 and has since been widely used for promotional purposes by Tiffany & Co. – it’s so strongly connected with the company, that it was trademarked and you cannot find it in official Pantone color guides, as it is not publicly available.

Luckily, there are so many other colors which you can freely use without fear of getting sued…

Find out more:

  • If you want to find out more about Yves Klein – check out his 10 masterpieces.
  • If you would like to join a visit in Anish Kapoor Studio – check out this link.


An intellectual property lawyer, helping artists on a daily basis, an art lover and a serious foodie. If missing, look for him in the nearest museum or in the kitchen.


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