Start of an Art Movement: The Pantone Art Challenge

Dory Xu_local emerging artist portrait

Dory Xu (she/her) is an Asian-Canadian artist based in Vancouver, BC. Inspired by nature and the everyday landscape, her work is a visual exploration of color and form to create a sense of wonder in our daily surroundings, shaping and shifting perspectives within familiar places.

Most commonly known by her Instagram handle @bigbluetang, Dory Xu first started sharing her art publicly in 2019, though it wasn’t until the virality of the #pantonechallenge that her career as an artist began taking off. Today, the hashtag has attracted over 20k participants, becoming a digital international art movement connecting artists all around the world. 


The Pantone art challenge began in January 2020, the idea being to paint on a different Pantone color swatch everyday for 30 days. As the art challenge progressed, more and more artists online became drawn to the idea, many choosing to participate by sharing their own daily paintings through using the hashtag #pantonechallenge2020.

I never expected the Pantone art challenge to take off the way it did, it started just as a personal project to establish more consistency in my own creative practice. At the time, I struggled with making art on and off, wrestling with a constant sense of perfectionism that left me feeling discontent with everything I’d create. While scrolling through beautifully curated accounts by other artists, I felt lost in comparison, wishing for my art to look like theirs. While trying to replicate the art of others, I felt increasingly exhausted and unhappy in the process of creating work that felt authentic to me.

The breakthrough for me was when I decided to stop creating art for surface aesthetics and instead focus on creating work that would push and grow me as an artist. By committing to a daily art practice, I learned how to step out of my usual creative routine, to set aside any fearful thoughts and insecurities in the little time you had each day to create. Over time by showing up day after day, I was able to regain a sense of confidence in what I had to share.

More than anything, it’s been an astonishing privilege to see an idea take on the power of inspiring thousands of artists. One of the coolest things I’ve gotten to witness is how this art challenge has broken down barriers in the art world. Instead of seeing art as something only a small percentage of the creatively gifted can make, the Pantone art challenge helped bridge creativity for professional and hobby artists alike. Art is available to everyone, all it takes is a paintbrush, a few color swatches, and the desire to create something beautiful.

Writing, photos, and paintings by Dory Xu.