What is happening in the current craze with doodling and coloring for adults????? Since last year it has been impossible to go into a bookstore, an art store or craft establishment without encountering adult coloring books, doodling books, zen tangle materials or mandala coloring materials. In the last 6 months without really searching I have encountered at least 300 different titles available in Canada, the US. and Britain.When watching current TV programs I have noticed that several have included this trend in their programs. One Chicago Fire Episode had a firefighter explaining to a colleague what he was doing as he was working on an adult coloring book. He was coloring while waiting for the next fire. In addition an episode of “The Chew” recently had the enthusiastic Carla explaining how to make a scrumptious dish in such a manner that you could have lots of time left to work on your “coloring books”
We are seeing news programs responding to this trend offering speculation and expert opinions. Art therapists, psychologists and news anchors, in addition, news and magazine stories are starting to ask questions or study the trend. In Jan.6/2016 CBC NEWS / THE CALGARY EYEOPENER did a program suggesting that 6 months ago this trend did not exist and now it has taken North America by storm ( maybe farther afield). They suggested that this coloring/zen tangle trend was calming to the mind and helped in dealing with stress. Several reports suggested that this trend is a response to being frenzied and overwhelmed. One article suggested that as a response to our frenzied, hurried lives we are craving ways to slow down, take time to move, think and interact with color while being in a calm almost meditative state. The ARTS WRITER for the Huffington Post wrote an article entitled “Why Coloring Could Be the New Alternative to Meditation” The Huffington Post Live did a piece entitled “The Cognitive Benefits of Coloring” There is even a University class in Wisconsin entitled ” The Benefits of Doodling.”
Each time I have gone into a bookstore, art store etc ( in both Canada ,the USA & London England) in the last few months I have taken an informal survey and asked the proprietor or person who does the ordering who is buying all these coloring books. The answers are as varied as the hundreds of coloring books available. There are teens, and business men & women, grandmothers, book club enthusiasts, families wanting to sit around the table to just chat and color. In London several books store owners suggested the same variety but also mentioned many people who travel long distances on to tube or by train are using the time to color, do something creative and while away the hours on the train in a creative way. Coloring events in trendy bars with doodle walls and social events organized around a coloring activity are popping up in bars, bookstores and coffee houses. The list goes on and on and on. The swiftness of this phenomenon is amazing. It appears to have no age limits or socioeconomic boundaries. When mentioning this trend at a small bookstore in Canada a young woman piped up and shared that she worked at the jail and remand center in the city and the staff were using the coloring books as a calming influence for inmates.
Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford’s books have sold over 1 million copies to date. She suggests her books ‘make people unplug’ giving them a chance to unwind suggesting the side effect is stress relief. The philosophy encourages time together helping a busy life slow down. The trend is almost meditative allowing individuals to lose themselves, unplugging from the internet, their phones or other technology. The activity calms a busy brain overloaded and inundated 24/7 by the information highway. Families are unplugging, coloring and chatting while doing it.
Obviously there is a market for these books as stores do not invest revenue in trends that are not lucrative( as we all realize when we look for sections at our bookstore which have disappeared due to lack of interest from large numbers of patrons). We need to look a little more closely at the brain researchers and see what need this craze is offering to our minds. When we see how much time individuals are spending on their computers, smart phones, tablets and other devices we may have the clues we need. We are connected 24/7 and it seems that the coloring trend slows us down, disconnects us, allows us to sit around the table and actually unplug and talk.
Whether you are 8 or 80 the doodling or coloring craze is meeting the needs of our frenzied, hurried lifestyle. It is quicker than creating your own patterns while still allowing freedom to create with colors. No matter what age or stage we are at , it might be beneficial to see what all the excitement is about. As my Mom aged and confusion began to erode the activities she was able to continue doing many old familiar pastimes and other creative projects she used to do became too complicated but coloring allowed her to continue to choose colors and create a unique product. It continued to support her need to do something creative and allowed her to work for hours and hours on a task that was still able to stimulate and interest her.I worked in schools for 30 years and had many friends who were elementary school teachers so I used to ask my Mom to color some samples for my friend’s students so she would not be embarassed by thinking that the coloring was childlike. My Dad said she would color for hours!!!! and my friends were supportive of the project.
SEE ALSO: Hurry Sickness, The World We Live In & Endangered Minds