It’s been called the coloring book movement, the current proliferation of coloring books and other surfaces ostensibly for children but more and more geared to adults and even seniors as well. Such product was on display at the exhibition booths of several vendors at last week’s Toy Fair at the Javits Center, with Thunder Bay Press showing a particularly broad range of categories.
With its 3D Coloring books Thunder Bay offered a new take on the traditional coloring book format. This line has three titles (Nature, Flowers, and Animals) illustrated by award-wining artist Hannah Davies and featuring anaglyphic stereograms that appear in 3D when viewed with the 3D glasses supplied in each book.
Also at Thunder Bay is the 1000 Dot-to-Dot series (Cities, Icons, and Animals) by graphic designer and experimental artist Thomas Pavitte, each with 20 pieces of line art requiring tonal shading and detailed line work. Pavitte, by the way, set an unofficial record for the most complex dot-to-dot drawing with his 6,239-dot version of the Mona Lisa.
Thunder Bay’s Querkles books—Icons, Animals and Masterpieces—are also by Pavitte and offer quirky coloring puzzles that reveal famous faces, animals or artworks when colored in. Other adult-related titles include The Calm Coloring Book, The Meditation Coloring Book, Color Yourself Happy, Color Yourself Calm, Color Yourself Calm Postcards, Color Yourself Happy Postcards and Color Yourself Zen Postcards.
There’s also a Color Yourself Smart series (Birds of North America, Dinosaurs, Human Anatomy, Masterpieces of Art) that includes information on the subjects and comes with colored pencils.
“We’ve heard that colored pencils are hard to get in many stores because they’re so much in demand!” said Rachel Geerlings, senior marketing manager for Printers Row Publishing Group, which represents Thunder Bay. She was also pleased to report seeing 1000 Dot-to-Dot books in stock at the Museum of Modern Art store the day before.
Meanwhile, New York-based Pirasta lived up to its “For the Colorful” slogan with several new pieces by noteworthy illustrators. Its giant 63-inch by 36-inch What a Colorful World poster, by Allison Kerek, presents the entire world geographically and in its cultural and historical diversity, and also comes divided into a set of 20 14-inch by 10-inch coloring sheets.
Likewise, Pirasta’s The Big Apple, by James Gulliver Hancock, depicts New York City in all its glory, and is available in the same configurations, as are Food Fight! (artist Kris Mukai’s assemblage of food drawings), Funny Farm (Greg Kletsel’s sprawling petting zoo of zany animals) and Kerek’s Let’s Color America, which is similar to her What a Colorful World but focuses entirely on the U.S.A.
Pirasta’s Hannah Salyer noted the company’s emphasis on art and design, recycled paper and vegetable inks—and how the product packaging features artist bios.
“They’re geared toward children, but everyone likes them,” she said. “Adults have them at wine parties—color and drink! They have fun, quirky line work and unique characters, and you discover things when you color them: It’s like taking a journey, and can take as long as 90 hours to complete a giant poster.”
On hand over at French brand OMY’s booth (OMY is said to come from people’s “Oh, my!” astonishment at seeing finished OMY coloring product) were numerous offerings with adult appeal designed by École des Arts Décoratifs of Paris graphic arts graduates Elvire Laurent and Marie-Cerise Lichtlé. Most notable here were the Giant Coloring Rolls (71-inches by 39-inches) featuring a world atlas, cityscapes of great cities (including Paris, New York, London and Tokyo), artist works (Jeff Koons and Keith Haring) and decorative themes.
Other coloring product included Giant Coloring Posters (45-inches by 31.5-inches, many featuring cities), various city Pocket Map entries (each 20-inches by 14-inches and coming with 12 stickers, to be affixed, colored and annotated with memories) and Pocket Games Coloring Rolls ( a one-meter coloring roll with five games and eight-color lead pencil).
And Fashion Angels Enterprises, the Milwaukee-based lifestyle/activity product line geared toward tween girls, offered coloring product also tailored for an older female demographic.
“The adult coloring book trend has been going strong recently and our new Pocket Coloring Portfolios are a great addition to the ongoing coloring phenomena,” said CEO Mark Miller. “Fashion Angels has always prided itself with creating high quality and trend-driven products for the tween market, and more importantly, something parents can enjoy doing along with their kids.”
The Pocket Coloring Portfolio collection–The Graphic Art Pocket Portfolio, Zendoodle Designs Pocket Portfolio and Fashion Design Pocket Portfolio–consists of travel-sized miniature coloring books with over 90 pages of line drawings.
“There’s no age grade,” noted Fashion Angels president Myra Mouloudji. “They’re small, and fit in a pocketbook—and they’re not just coloring.”
In fact, Mouloudji’s Pocket Coloring Portfolio titles offer theme information and coloring guidance.
“There’s a page in the Zendoodle Designs that shows you how to doodle—in case you don’t know how!” she says. “The Fashion Design portfolio is for women who want to design their own fashions and shows different fabrics and how to draw them, as well as collar styles, blouse styles, and a ton of other content.”
She notes how studies have shown that coloring books can release tension, in addition to foster creativity.
“You can take [a Pocket Coloring Portfolio] out at the doctor’s office, and it can help relax your blood pressure!” prescribes Mouloudji.