Asked to do a children’s coloring book, Basford asked to do one for adults instead
The adult coloring book trend has endured for several years now as people continue to find peace and happiness indulging in their creative side. One of the leaders, Johanna Basford, released her first coloring book in 2013 and has gone on to sell over 20 million books. What’s her story?
Johanna Basford was born in 1983 on a Scottish fish farm. As a child, she always loved drawings and would draw on whatever she could: books, walls, herself, her clothes…she’s thankful that her parents supported her instead of getting upset. She graduated from art school in 2005 with a degree in textile design. What is textile design, exactly? It’s simply creating designs that will go on fabrics for clothing or interior decor. Basford’s portfolio consisted of monochrome silk screen prints and drawings.
Getting into coloring books
Basford worked as a commercial illustrator, choosing to stick with pen-and-pencil instead of digital. In 2008, she created hand-drawn designs for a tableware collection, and in 2010, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe commissioned an illustration.
Basford began to consider coloring books after her publishers approached her to do a children’s book. For years, her clients always told her they felt a desire to color in her designs, because she works exclusively in black-and-white. When the idea of a children’s coloring book came up, Basford said she wanted to do one for adults. No books really existed back then, so it was an innovative (and therefore risky) idea.
Basford created Secret Garden, a series of ready-to-color, intricate designs inspired by her love of flowers. It ended up on the New York Times Best Seller list and within two years, it sold over 10 million copies. That same year, Basford opened her first solo exhibition called “Wonderlands” at Dundee Contemporary Arts. It was one of their most successful shows. In 2016, she was appointed an OBE (Officer of the ORder of the British Empire).
Big windows and tea splashes
Johanna Basford works in a place that fuels her creativity. She and her husband live in a converted farm, where she draws in a studio with large windows and a big desk. She likes to spread her work out, using several pieces of paper on a single drawing, and not worrying about smudging. Tools of the trade include mechanical pencils, Steadler pigment liners, and hundreds of pens. She does use Photoshop, but only to erase those smudges and splashes of tea.
All of Basford’s coloring books are available on Amazon. In addition to the full books, you can get notecards, postcards, a planner, and Artist’s Editions, which are designed to be framed. She currently has seven books: Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, Lost Ocean, Magical Jungle, Johanna’s Christmas, Ivy and the Inky Butterfly, and World of Flowers, which comes out at the end of October.
Benefits of coloring as an adult
Coloring is not an activity that should be limited to children. It might actually be more worthwhile for adults, since they have more stress that needs to be dispelled. Coloring is a great method with benefits such as:
- Fewer negative thoughts
- Improved concentration
- Inner peace achieved through the meditative process
Coloring is also easy for anyone to do and allows everyone to express their creative side. With Basford’s intricate designs, finishing a page can give someone a real sense of accomplishment. If you’re feeling stressed or depressed, coloring is a much better activity than watching TV or just sitting and stewing in negativity.
For more benefits of art therapy, click here.