It’s official: the colouring trend has well and truly landed. Everywhere you look, people are taking pencil to paper and getting crafty with it. Or, as crafty as you can get while colouring between the lines.
Widely regarded as the breakout star of this trend is artist Johanna Basford, whose book Enchanted Forest: an Inky Quest & Coloring Book has hit mainstream success and become an NY Times bestseller. With intricate detail and stunning images, it’s not hard to see why people have fallen under the spell of this gorgeous book. But what exactly is it about colouring in that has so many adults signing up?
Let’s take this discussion further. This isn’t the first time adults have rebelled in doing something designed for those younger than them. Look at the Harry Potter and Twilight phenomenon. Read and loved by people of all ages, they had grown women (and some men!) wearing T-shirts that branded them Team Edward. And don’t get me started on Those Glasses. Not since Men In Black has there been such a definitive trend in frame wear.
Let’s face it: as adults, we like to feel young. But why is that?
After conducting a conversation with several other supposed adults, ranging in age from twenty-one to sixty, I found the colouring trend seemed definitely more of interest to those in the younger half of said age spectrum. The newer adults, if you will.
One of the most common reasons people listed for breaking out the Derwents was that they wanted to feel young again. That being a grown-up was kind of hard and scary, and they wanted to regress.
It’s a feeling I can completely understand. While I don’t think ‘adulting’ was ever particularly easy, today we live in a world of terrorism, religious uprising, extreme technology and conspiracy. And where previously it was the adults who dealt in all the war games, now people as young as sixteen have been linked to murder plots and terrorism attempts. When you can get killed simply for being in the wrong chocolate cafe at the wrong time, being a grown-up suddenly seems super scary — we want to feel safe again.
Enter the colouring book. It’s easy. The lines are already there. All you have to do is fill in the colour. There is something very soothing about staying between the lines and engaging in an activity that can completely absorb you. It’s repetitive. It’s relaxing. And in today’s world of shortcuts, you can’t rush through it. You need to take your time.
Some people have judged those who’ve jumped on the colour bandwagon, in the same way that adults who read YA are sometimes judged. They call it childish, a sign of lack development, and unwillingness to move with the times. If you can’t adult, you should go home (but not to colour. To sit properly and discuss the nose on wine, or something similar).
For me? I think regressing back to childhood is fabulous. While I don’t yet own an adult colouring book, I’m certainly not ruling it out. In fact, I have my eye on Mermaids by Selena Fenech right now. Childish? Maybe. But if you dare take my YA books away, how adult I am will be the least of your worries.