I’m extremely late to the party with this one – it was around this time last year that the adult colouring book craze went beyond a niche craft activity to the bestseller list. The craze exploded beyond any expectations. It seemingly came from nowhere, and it has persistently lingered ever since.
The craze all started with Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden (2013), and her equally successful follow-up Enchanted Forest (2013). The books were marketed as “an inky treasure hunt and colouring book” for all ages. Not only do these books have beautiful illustrations for anybody to colour in, but they also involve the “treasure hunt”, where readers can find any number of treasures throughout the pages of the book, and also can draw additions to the illustrations themselves.
These books were certainly popular with crafty and artistic types, but it was mid-2015 that Basford’s books became popular with all kinds of people. At the bookstore where I work, we sold out of the books at least three separate times, with hundreds of people on waiting lists for the books to come back into stock. From here, the Secret Garden has become one of the top bestselling books ever, particularly through the online market. The #adultcolouring was trending on Instagram, where everyone on the World Wide Web can see what others had created with their colouring and their creations and could take inspiration.
Not only this, but adult colouring has been credited with many more things than a simple hobby for both children and adults. It has been proven to work wonders with levels of stress, increased mindfulness as well as creativity and calmness (hence, many colouring books incorporate this into their marketing campaigns).
For more information on the benefits of adult colouring for the mind and spirit, it can be read about here: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/colour-me-happy-why-colouring-books-are-all-the-rage-for-stressedout-grownups-20150425-1ms8rk.html
(As you can see from this article, adult colouring has also kick-started a lot of similar crazes, such as dot-to-dots, querkles and tangling).
Despite their immense popularity, the colouring craze was also met with equal amounts of cynicism. Although we did have many, many customers that were absolutely enamoured with colouring and couldn’t get enough, we also met with a number of customers who were somewhat cynical. They thought that book stores were something of a sacred space, meant only for reading.
I must say, for some time, I did fall into this category a little bit – it’s not that I actively had anything against colouring books or adult colouring, or even that I resented the huge amount of room that they took up in the store (italicised because it was such a huge problem!). It was more that I would rather spend the precious little free time that I have reading books than colouring them in. In addition, I do not have a single artistic or crafty bone in my body – I dropped any art subjects at high school faster than a hot potato and actively avoid anything crafty wherever I can. I imagined that this would translate into the colouring book craze and, hence, I was just not interested.
However, several months after the colouring books dominating the bestseller list, I started to have a change of heart. That happened with Michael O’Mara’s The Menagerie – I was partly drawn to it due to my love of animals, and the gorgeous bear that appears on the front cover was enough to lure me in.
This colouring book certainly is beautiful, and showcases some amazing artwork – to the point where I almost feel bad colouring it in and ruining it! I loved colouring in the bear to match with how the front cover has been presented, too – it makes me feel less self-conscious that my efforts will be a disaster and that I have some idea of what the final result will be.
I bought this colouring book quite a few months ago, after first purchasing it, I did attempt to colour regularly; however, I found my interest waning a touch as time went on. I found myself reverting to my original reservation about the trend – that I would much rather spend the time reading my way through my massive TBR than colour in. And so, The Menagerie was abandoned. I feel confident, though, that it will not be forever and that I will return and eventually finish colouring the beautiful bear that I have started!
This was the state of mind that I had up until last week, when a new book at work caught my eye: Classic Colouring Jane Austen. I knew I had to have it right away! Being an avid Austen-ite, I just couldn’t leave it behind, and I secured it with the thought that I may have a little extra free time, given that we’ve just had a long weekend.
And I love it so far! It’s a smaller size, around the size of a traditional paperback novel, making it less intimidating and the psychology of being able to finish one page of colouring in a relatively short space of time does wonders. I love that I can bring her characters, phrases and iconic scenes to live in whatever colour I choose. I’m not so certain about the idea of being able to rip out the pages and frame them though, which many of the colouring books have elected to have as a feature – I’m not too sure if anybody wants to frame their colouring? Please correct me if I’m wrong, though!
I’m not very far through this colouring book, but I feel as though it may be the key to my regaining love for it and, if I’m lucky, maybe reducing stress levels and gaining some calm in my life!
As always, if you have any thoughts on anything that I’ve raised here, please feel free to comment below!