Adult coloring books are rekindling creativity
Long considered an activity for kids – like naptime – coloring books are now becoming a hot commodity among adults across the world. The act of filling in black and white images too detailed for young hands has been gaining in popularity at an astonishing pace. Grownups are crediting adult coloring books with providing a deeply relaxing and creatively fulfilling interest.
The thought of adult coloring books might conjure up images too risqué for minors; however, most adult coloring books are characterized by their complexity and extreme detail. Artists of every background and style have been seizing on the trend, producing works that challenge preconceptions of what “coloring” can be.
Most illustrators credit the tremendous popularity of the 2013 New York Times bestselling coloring book, The Secret Garden, for drawing attention to an already vigorous medium. “People have always enjoyed coloring,” says coloring book author Jenean Morrison. “I think it just took the success of Johanna Basford’s beautiful book Secret Garden and the media attention surrounding that success to remind people of this wonderful pastime.”
Millie Marotta, a coloring book author whose new book, Tropical World, will be released in September, sees it as more than just a passing fancy. “Obviously there has been a huge surge recently in the popularity of coloring books for adults. But I don’t think it’s something that people will lose interest in,” she says.
The relaxing effects of coloring may help explain this sustained interest. “Studies have shown it to be calming and meditative,” says Morrison. “If the emails I receive from people who have colored in my books are any indication, then coloring books are bringing peace and calm to a lot of people.” Morrison also sees coloring books as “a kind of collaboration.”
Others view the creative interplay of coloring as one of its most beneficial and surprising aspects. “What I actually enjoy the most is seeing photos of the pages colored by various people,” says Kerby Rosanes, illustrator of the popular coloring book Doodle Invasion. “It’s a good feeling to at least be a part of creating that spark of one’s creativity.”
With so much newfound popularity, coloring book authors agree there is a valuable and enduring benefit at the heart of coloring. “The recent spike in interest has been great, but adults have been coloring for a long time,” says Marotta. “I see this as less a trend than an evolution. As more folks discover the real and lasting benefits of coloring, I think it will become part of more people’s lives.”