Retrospections 2015: colouring books for adults

Back in 2013, when Johanna Basford has published her colouring book, nothing predicted that millions of “children in disguise” will be touched by a beautiful madness.

The phenomenon was studied upside down, analysed and psychoanalysed in an attempt to answer the question “where does this book success comes from?”. It`s been said that our need to play doesn`t die, it just fades away, hiding somewhere inside us and in some fortunate moments it shows up again, as bright and lively as it was in our childhood, surprising ourselves.

From another point of view, the secret was revealed by placing the book`s launch in a time frame filled with high levels of stress. The world who was spinning in a non-stop carousel suddenly stumbled upon this book, took a comfortable seat on the couch and started colouring. Escaping to another universe with outlines only, where deciding colours and shades are up to you, had become in less than two years one of the most favourite ways of daily stress relief.



The fact that, this week, 5 colouring books for adults are in top 10 bestsellers books on Amazon proves that we are talking about an expanded phenomenon. There are dedicated groups created on social media. George R.R. Martin recognised the huge potential of this category of books and published in late October 2015 The official A Game of Thrones Coloring Book. One of its acclaimed graphic designers is John Howe, who also starred as a designer in Lord of The Rings trilogy.

“Relaxing”, “creative”, “meditative”, “detaches you from the everyday problems”, “another perspective on what`s going on with you” – that`s how described the colouring books for adults those who were seduced by them. Some went even further and made out of colouring books their lifebuoy.

Adults have, therefore, started looking for those two things supposedly lost due to excessive technology: pencil and paper. Big writing tools companies took a benefit from this revival and encouraged it. We can buy now sets of pencils and markers especially designed for this category of colouring books.

Once familiarised with this trend, we can establish how brands can integrate this grown ups emotional flow:

–       The colouring book for adults, along with a pencil set, can be a pleasant surprise at the doctor, at the beauty salon or in any other location who has a waiting room; the waiting can be eased that way even in a restaurant 😉

–        Special designed promotional products which encourage this relaxing activity – as the innovative colouring notebook – can be offered in marketing campaigns, focusing on the assimilation into the community, on solidifying brand and customers relationship and on trusting theirs creativity resources.

–       Inside the company, same elements of community creativity can be featured in a team-building that includes this kind of activity.

–       Colouring theme parties can be a good opportunity for a company to give away logo customised writing materials. The secret resides in observing the adult customer in the light of this expanding phenomenon and joining him in his “play” by helping him to rediscover the universe of childhood.


Photo source: Wendy Piersall