If you’ve been to a bookstore recently—or Hallmark—or PaperSource—or virtually any store where they sell stationery, cards, books, trinkets, and cute things (my favorite kind of store!), you’ve probably seen displays of adult coloring books. The most popular are those by Johanna Basford: Lost Ocean, Enchanted Forest, and Secret Garden. Some say there’s a strong likelihood that the 2015 Coloring Craze is primarily responsible for the 5% uptick in paper book sales in 2015.
There’s something meditative and calming about coloring. Sherry Turkle wrote in Reclaiming Conversation about the anxiety that so many of us feel now, primarily because of our attachment to our devices. She wrote about how we start to perform for them—we take pictures and record events to get more views and likes. We experience nearly everything through a screen, even if it is right in front of us. But we’re not necessarily happy about it. We know it’s a problem. We’re just not sure how to stop.
It’s no surprise, then, that we’re seeking entertainment away from devices (apart from exercise and outdoors activities). It could’ve been crochet, or needlepoint, or painting. But I think there are a few reasons why it’s coloring:
- Coloring is visual. Whether it’s due to nature or nurture, we’re a generation that likes pictures.
- Coloring is creative, but easy. You could argue that there’s no need to be an expert to take up other visual arts, but coloring is particularly simple to accomplish. Apply pencil to paper. It doesn’t take much mental effort or hand dexterity.
- Coloring is cheap. You could be super fancy and use Blick Pencils or Prismacolor tools like my sister does, but for most of us, the $2.99 24-count box of Crayola colored pencils is just fine.
- Coloring is nostalgic. I’m currently reading Max Perkins: Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg. In correspondence with Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Max wrote, “The truth is the best part of a man is a boy.” He wrote it to explain the popularity of books like Huckleberry Finn and Treasure Island, but I think it applies to the nostalgia all of us feel for our childhood selves. Maybe in coloring we’re trying to once again recapture the wonder and innocent pleasure we used to experience.
- When we’re done, we have something beautiful. You could frame it or give it as a gift, or put it on the refrigerator just like old times.
I enjoy coloring, too. And every time I see a display of coloring books, I spend a ridiculous amount of time looking through them, assessing and perusing to see if I might buy it. I haven’t bought any yet, because I haven’t found the coloring book I’m looking for. If I were to design my dream coloring book, it would be full of all of my favorite quotes from literature, beautifully handlettered and adorned with flowery designs or maybe in art deco geometric patterns (how cool would that be!).
So I actually decided to try my hand at designing a few coloring pages. It took way longer than I anticipated, but it was a fun experiment. The three quotes I chose are, of course, from Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice.
To create the designs, I bought these two collections of images from Creative Market:
- The Handsketched Designers Kit ($25)
- Laurels, Ribbons, Wreaths, and Arrows ($5) (this is also what I used to create my logo)
The Handsketched Designers Kit delivers the images in one .png file, so you have to crop quite a bit to isolate the exact flourish you want to use. I used iPhoto to do that, and then LunaPic to make the background transparent. Canva is my go-to graphic designer, so that’s where I combined images + text to create these coloring pages. There’s probably one program that I could’ve used to do all of the above, but for now this worked.
Feel free to download these and enjoy!