How to Mix Prints Without Looking Crazy

If you mix prints well, it can be a lot of fun. If you aren’t thoughtful about it, it can make you look like a 6 year old. Here’s what you need to know to keep from being that 6 year old…

Challenge 1: Unity

The biggest challenge when you are mixing prints is creating a sense of unity, and the bigger and bolder the prints you use, the harder you are going to have to work to establish unity.  You can do this using any of the elements, but the easiest way to do this is either to repeat the same color palette in each print, like this:

Or use the same print (or a very similar print) in two different colors. Like with this Diane Von Furstenberg piece…

Challenge 2: Balance

It can be hard to keep a visual balance if you are using prints that vary in value or scale.  Think about the visual weight of each piece.  A print with a larger scale typically carries more visual weight, and darker colors carry more weight.  So if you do a larger and darker print on bottom, you will need to balance that out somehow. One way is to throw a something else dark on top, like this girl:   

Cheat: “Neutral Prints”

Some prints, like stripes, polka dots, or or naturally-colored animal prints, can be used as neutrals, in which case you can be a bit more lax about incorporating that piece into your color or pattern scheme.  Like this:

There are a lot of ways to maintain unity and balance while mixing prints it can get really sophisticated and abstract, but stick to the easy stuff until you get the hang of it.  If you are going to do two large prints, maybe stick with a black and white color palette.  Or if you are going to do color, maybe keep one of the prints very small so that the emphasis stays on the larger print. And don’t forget to have fun and keep a sense of humor with it.


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