The Man Who Invented Paint By Number Was Born In Detroit
Growing up I had a huge love for art. I was a terrible artist, but when it came to coloring I was a boss and would spend hours with crayons, markers, colored pencils, it didn't matter. If it was bright and I could fill in the shapes and drawings I was happy. Some of the all time greats, of course, were things like coloring books but also those huge velvet posters that you could color yourself. Somewhat of a mosaic look, there were also the paint by number books. Each picture was sectioned off with a corresponding number with a color to pair with the number to bring life to the photo.
I recently learned that genius behind these drawings is actually from Michigan. His name is Dan Robbins and he was bornin Detroit 97 years ago in 1925. Detroit Historical talks about how he got his start and ultimately gained success:
Robbins conceived the idea for paint by number in 1949 after being inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, who would hand out numbered patterns to his apprentices. In 1951 he created the initial six kits for the Palmer Paint Company under the “Craft Master” label. Sales were slow at first, but clever marketing soon drove the kits’ popularity skyward. By 1954 twelve million sets had been sold.
Detroit has seen its fair share of amazing artists and painters, including the frescoes by the Mexican artist Diego Rivera. The Detroit Industry Murals surround the interior Rivera Court in the Detroit Institute of Arts and contain twenty-seven panels depicting industry at the Ford Motor Company and in Detroit. There's a lot of art history in Detroit, and this is one piece that's new to me.