Should Creatives Dig Up Their Old Coloring Books?


Creative Director

There is a surprising trend in publishing right now: Adult coloring books are exploding. Books like “Gangsta Rap Coloring Book” and “Unicorns are Jerks” have received rave Amazon reviews. One adult coloring book sold over 3.5 million copies.

“It’s a phenomenon,” Christine Carswell, publisher of Chronicle Books, told Yahoo News. “I’ve been in publishing for 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Most of you probably haven’t picked up a coloring book for a few decades, but if you have a creative job —or even if you don’t! — you might want to reconsider.

Everyone knows that kids love coloring books, but adults? Strangely enough, one could argue that the first adult coloring books were contemplated by renowned Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. He worked with the concept of “mandalas,” also known as circular patterns filled with colors. Jung and his followers believed that these mandalas reflected a person’s emotional state.

While adult coloring books may not provide you with some deep revelation about your inner self, they can be massively helpful to de-stress and spark original out-of-the-box thinking.

Filling in pre-drawn lines might not seem like the most fulfilling task, but as is true with many creative tasks, it is the constraints that make things interesting and rewarding. Anyone who’s tried to fit a complex idea into a 140-character tweet or design a dress on a computer screen knows that these challenges are at the core of the creative process.

Experts say that the repetitive motion of illustrating combined with the freedom to choose colors can focus attention away from negative thoughts. When coloring, you are required to focus on the moment, a skill that is essential in mindfulness.

This focus can lead to a more peaceful mind that is then primed to conjure innovative ideas. Even if coloring does not directly inspire you, it is these kinds of “lightly creative” activities that are correlated with increased productivity and less stress in the workplace. Some say that breaking out those colored pencils may indirectly cure writer’s block.

Some argue that we shouldn’t put too much meaning into the de-stressing qualities of coloring; that it won’t turn a Dilbert into a Dali. And some say that coloring inside the lines is the definition of inside-the-box thinking. (However, just because a coloring book offers lines doesn’t mean you have to use them; coloring outside of the lines may be just the stimulus you need!)

a06bacc30390f54a06f9e67637a053eeUncertain if coloring is for you? Why not try it?

If you need a way to de-stress or a novel task to inspire your work, coloring could be the perfect idea. If you have a family with children about boredom, this could be your newest bonding activity. There are plenty of blank pages you can print from the internet so you don’t have to spend too much on a book. Just scour for your old Crayolas and you’ll be set.