We think of print as a tool, a medium or a channel but now printed adult colouring books are not just “a thing” but positively a phenomenon and they’ve taken grown-ups as well as publishers, printers, booksellers and newsagents by storm.
In June last year the Guardian reported on an “art therapy” craze that was supposedly sweeping France. Now, just over 12 months later, remarkably (at least for those of us not yet bitten by the bug) four of Amazon’s top 10 best-sellers are adult colouring books.
Consulting neuropsychologist and neuroscientist Dr Stan Rodski (himself an author of several colouring books for adults) believes there is a sound scientific evidence of a range of benefits for adults that use colouring books as the three key elements of “repetition, pattern and detail” prompt positive neurological responses in participants.
Topping the list
The queen of the genre is Johanna Basford, a Scottish designer. Her first two books, “Secret Garden” and “Enchanted Forest”, have sold 1.8m copies in almost 30 countries. She puts their success down to people being “screen-weary” and needing a “digital de-tox”. Hot on her heels Millie Marotta has sold more than 320,000 copies of “Animal Kingdom” (that’s in the UK alone) since January - making it the country’s fourth best-selling book and number one for Amazon during 2015.
Whatever next? Dot-to-dot?
Well, funny you should say that! A New Zealander called Thomas Pavitte attempted to create a new Guinness world record by creating a giant rendering of the Mona Lisa complete with 6,239 dots. Having taken him a week to plot, plus another nine hours to complete, he must have been disappointed when Guinness rejected the record. He was probably comforted though by the fact that he went on to sell more than half a million dot-to-dot books for grown-ups.
Kids love colouring too!
Time was, keeping within the lines was just for kids. And, while mum and dad get to join in the fun now too, colouring books for children have “upped the ante”. Disney recently announced its tablet app that allows children to colour in characters that pop out of their books in real-time, Crayola has been transforming this solitary pastime in to a boisterous, interactive experience with a range of mythical creatures since the end of 2014.
The re-invention of print
That print keeps both re-inventing itself and remaining current gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling. Though you could be forgiven for thinking that simple black and white printing – without the trials and tribulations of colour matching, registration, etc. that print professionals have got used to dealing with – is a retrograde step. It just means that we have more time on our hands…for a bit of colouring in maybe?