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 Howard Ketcham  (1902 - )

About: Howard Ketcham


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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: engineering color designer, writer, teacher

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
An "ad-man turned colorest" and known as "the father of color engineering", Howard Ketcham became part of the Color Revolution through his work with DuPont corporation's Duco Color Advisory Service.  There for eight years he was Du Pont's chief colorist, and not only created and managed colors but set up a tracking method to determine which colors led to the strongest sales.  "Beginning in the summer of 1929 Ketcham tracked these three groups and measured the rise and fall of color families, such as reds, browns, and yellows. His research revealed how the Great Depression affected consumers’ buying habits.  By 1933 black was back in business, a major challenger to blue. The Automobile Color Index summarized these trends in elaborate charts and graphs and showcased the statistical expertise of DuPont’s new chief colorist." (True Blue)

In his profession, he also put much emphasis on simplifying the numbers of colors promoted by the company and of good engineering that led to sturdy products.  One of his inventions was Colorcable, a method to transmit color to "anywhere" through a system of variously colored disks inserted and calibrated in an electrically driven wheel.

Ketcham was raised in Manhattan and Long Island and was a part of the social scene with family that sent him to St. Paul’s School and Amherst College. From 1925 to 1927, he was art director for H. K. McCann while studying at the New York School of Design, and in 1927 he joined the "Duco office, where he worked until 1935.  Then he established Howard Ketcham, Inc., a color consultancy in Rockefeller Center,"and devoted himself to his successful concepts of creating market value through color of industrial products such as automobiles.

Regina Lee Blaszczyk, "True Blue: DuPont and the Color Revolution", Chemical Heritage Newsmagazine, Fall 2007

"Color by Cable", Time, April 6, 1936

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