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Adult Coloring Books: Big Business and Stress Relief

  • Faiza Elmasry

August 2 is National Coloring Book Day. It's been around for a while but has really taken off alongside the meteoric rise in the popularity of adult coloring books. Artist Trina Lucido is one of many artists trying to meed the demand for books that allow adults to blow off some steam through the stress-busting joys of coloring between the lines.

At work in her studio, Lucido is surrounded with all sorts of markers, crayons and sketchbooks. She’s creating coloring books, but not for children.

Her latest one is called Color, Write and Create. It contains 40 pages filled with hand-sketched drawings of flowers, birds and geometric shapes. It also has spaces in which to write journal entries.

“I wanted to do something that would encourage people to be creative,” she said. “You know, when I do art journaling, people see my journals and say, ‘Oh, my gosh! I wish I were creative.’ That makes me sad, because I think everybody is creative. So the big idea is to encourage people to be creative.”

Lucido finds inspiration for her work all around her.

“One day I saw a beautiful leaf, and boom, I did a whole page on leaves,” she said. “So, some came from sketchbooks. Some were just one-word inspiration, and some I just saw something on the ground and that was the inspiration of the day.”

The coloring business

While coloring is usually left to kids, adults can also benefit from coloring between lines.

Many grown-ups find sitting down with crayons or colored pencils a way to unwind. That explains the growing popularity of adult coloring books. In December, five of the top 10 best-selling books in the United States were coloring books.

Lucido said the positive feedback from her customers is encouraging.

“I draw mine with a thick marker, because that’s the marker I like to use,” she said. “And I heard back from people that they really like the thickness of my lines, the large coloring spaces. Many of the books that are out there right now, the lines are very thin and spaces are tiny. Even though they market them as anti-stress, people find themselves very stressed out trying to color.

"Something else I heard from people: They are buying these for people who are either ill or going through a rough time. They feel that this is something that kind of helps them, almost therapeutic.”

Color, Write and Create is the latest addition to Lucido's product line, which started two decades ago with handmade greeting cards. Over the years, she’s created a variety of collectables made of paper, fabric and antique materials.

Business and marketing expert Hillary Tattersall said the coloring books are an important step for Lucido to grow her online business, Jubilee Flea, and hopefully move toward mass production.

“So many of her products that I personally have sold and represented over the years are one of a kind,” Tattersall said. “To have a commercial success, you need hundreds and hundreds and hopefully thousands and tens of thousands.”

Coloring to beat stress

Susan Jackson picked up one of Lucido's coloring books at a local store, drawn to it, she said, by its beauty and authenticity. She said that sitting down and coloring makes her feel happy and relaxed.

”Any stress just sort of falls away," she said. "It frees your mind. I love her little birds. There is just something about them. They make me smile. So I’m saving the bird pictures to the end. It’s not as daunting as trying to fill a blank page.”

For now, there is strong demand for adult coloring books, and that keeps Lucido happy and busy.