Adult Colouring: The Story of The Nation’s Favourite Pastime
Posted on 13 July 2016
Did you know that three of Amazon’s top 10 bestselling books last year were adult colouring books? Pioneer of the nation’s newest trend, Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest colouring book sold over 13 million copies worldwide! That’s a lot of books for something that people associate with small children.
Adult colouring has taken the world by storm and is now the nation’s favourite pastime as it allows stressed out adults to relax and ease their minds making them forget all about the day to day struggles they face. It offers therapeutic feelings without having to sit on a therapist’s sofa, it is meditative without having to meditate and allows people who don't think of themselves as creative to produce their own pieces of art.
Colouring in has become a world-wide phenomenon, to see how big it really is just check out the number of colouring based Instagram hashtags that there are and how many people are using them. People enter competitions, show off their designs and use the platform as a design CV by showcasing their finished pages.
But this isn’t the first time that the nostalgic and old school hobby of adult colouring and colouring books have grabbed the attention of the nation and topped bestseller charts. In the early 60s sales of adult colouring books soared and even inspired Barbara Streisand to release all of her emotional turmoil from an abandoned lover into a song called “My Colouring Book”.
“For those who fancy colouring books as certain people do. Here's a new one for you a most unusual colouring book.”
“The kind you never see, Crayons ready? Very well. Begin to colour me”
In 1962 Mort Drucker’s JFK Colouring Book spent 14 weeks at the top of the New York Times best seller list and that year sales of adult colouring books amassed $1 million. Back in the 60s colouring books weren’t used a stress reducing activity they were used a way of sticking it to the man. Books were designed by cartoonists and would feature very basic designs that highlighted and poked fun at a specific group of people or like Mort Drucker's book one person in particular.
One of the most successful books of the 60's was one of the first to be published. The Executive Colouring Book was produced in 1961 and showed pictures of businessmen going through their day to day tasks with comments underneath showing what they were “really” thinking. Many of these designs asked the user to "colour me grey" to highlight the depression of the post war times of middle America.
Your family may have put your best colourings in on the fridge as a child but now the social universe is ready to like, regram and retweet your best shadings and sketches. Colouring has started to create its own subcultures including colouring parties, books themed around your favourite TV shows and movies and also adult colouring apps so you can colour without picking up a pencil!