In the past, the pastime of colouring used to be reserved for children and the occasional adult who got to babysit them, but recently, the activity has found a different demographic. What started as a niche hobby has now turned into an international trend, as adult colouring books find themselves on more and more bestsellers’ lists throughout the world. However, while this trend may be a fun way to pass the time, it’s the books’ therapeutic properties that really have them flying off shelves.
Rising numbers of adults around the world have turned to colouring books in an effort to combat stress after it was proven that colouring could help alleviate tension. Colouring books have entertained children for generations. The simple challenge allowed them to while away the hours in quiet.
Now, these colouring books are enjoying a wave of popularity as booksellers around the world have to restock supplies because of rapid sales. The colouring books for adults are somewhat different to those geared to kids. They have more intricate designs with smaller areas to colour in.
These books have become popular for their therapeutic benefits, allowing long-suffering workers to relax after a hard day’s work.
In June, The Telegraph reported that sales of colouring books around the world had rocketed after publishers began marketing them as a “de-stressing” tool. There’s a run on printing presses, a scramble for paper, reported shortages of colouring pencils. Adults across the globe are suddenly going crazy over colouring. Leading booksellers around the world are taken aback by the popularity of these books. “It’s a phenomenon,” said one English publisher. “I’ve been in publishing for 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like it.” Not only is the boom sending shockwaves through the publishing world, it’s also inspiring artists to think outside the lines.
Canadian artist Steve McDonald for years had shown his grand cityscapes in art galleries and relied on a client base of about a thousand customers, but with his new adult colouring book, Fantastic Cities, he’s reaching far more people — and invited them to collaborate in his work.
The current colouring-book craze was ignited in 2013, when Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford published Secret Garden. The seemingly obscure offering had an initial printing of 16,000, but has since exploded into a runaway international bestseller, selling nearly six million copies.
Today, colouring books are big business — complete with celebrity authors like Broad City star Abbi Jacobson and Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin. The market, publishers say, transcends age, gender and geography. But not everyone’s a fan. Critics say grown-up colouring is infantilizing and escapist — part of the rise of so-called Peter Pan activities like adult summer camps and Lego leagues. Some psychologists say the simple act of staying in the lines can help reduce stress and enhance focus and creativity.
The allure of Colouring books for adults can be adduced to the following reasons:
Nostalgia – Reliving the simplicity of childhood — where a brand new colouring book and a fresh, 64-crayon box of crayons was the ultimate indulgence — is a refreshing feeling. Childhood memories are the best times, no worries and all the time in the world to have fun.
Stress Relief – Psychologists frequently rave about the stress-relieving effects of colouring.
Creativity -Yes, the pictures are drawn for you, but the colour scheme is all up to you. And the possibilities are endless. A recent report says that a sizable chunk of Basford’s colouring book sales are from people re-purchasing her books to try.out different colours. A colouring book is like having your own canvas where you know every creation is going to be something different.
Social – Just like when we were kids, when we’d colour with the rest of our kindergarten class, adults are finding that colouring is an activity best enjoyed in groups. Colouring group clubs are sprouting up all over the world. With publishers unable to churn out these colouring books fast enough, grownups will have plenty of opportunity to indulge their growing new habit.