Graphic Design and sustainability are two terms you
probably don’t hear used together as often as you
should; nonetheless, our role as makers carries with it
a certain responsibility for our consumption, whether
it be the materials we use, the boxes that they come
in, or how they were made. As a frequent consumer of
both lettering and interior bucket paint, I realized I
hadn’t the slightest idea of what my paint was made
of, let alone how it was made. I found out why this
was almost immediately after beginning what would
be the most confusing and seemingly hopeless few
weeks of research I hope I'll ever have to endure.

Although the ingredients and manufacturing process for
the base paint is widely accessible info, finding out what
went into the colorants used for mixing together colors
was borderline cryptography: colors and and ingredients
were represented by codes and numbers, unique to each
individual brand, and only about 2% of these ingredients
were legally obligated to be disclosed. The remainder
were kept a secret, and would ultimately require chem-
ical testing and/or expert insight to uncover. This was
particularly concerning as many of these chemicals po-
sed significant health risks if handled improperly.

After finally decoding each and every colorant, it
was clear a more transparent system needed to be
developed. The final outcome was a re-designed
interface for the paint tinting machinery that not
only disclosed the specific chemicals being added
to a users paint, but highlighted those which were
potentially hazardous to their health, and respect-
fully suggested any precautionary measures ne-
cessary for safe usage.