Adult coloring books: the craze sweeping LC and beyond

By McKenna Teigland

Illustration by Raya Deussen
Illustration by Raya Deussen
Photo courtesy of Marianna S./ Creative Commons
Photo courtesy of Marianna S./ Creative Commons

I can’t color inside those tiny-ass lines,” said Will Grebner ’18 who, as you might imagine, does not color. “It would stress me out,” he added, stating that he needed more direction than a black and white page of lines; as a kid, he only colored-by-numbers.

Consumerism loves to blind its customers with fads and bandwagons. The latest hip trend is adult coloring books: mandalas, famous artists, your favorite television show — if you can imagine it, this craze is probably trying to spin a profit off of it. Even author Neil Gaiman just released a limited time coloring book here in the States. I had to stop myself from driving out to Beaverton to pick one up from a specialty store. But what is it that makes “adult coloring books” so appealing? Is Grebner missing out, or does he know something that we don’t?

Maggie Burks ’18, “had the 64 pack [of crayons] with a sharpener” as a child. She enjoyed coloring back then, and she definitely still enjoys it now, as the proud owner of a adult coloring book featuring mandalas and natural scenes. She received the book from a roommate last semester around the holidays when the fad was in its fullest swing.

Burks likes to color when she is stressed out.

“I think it probably depends on the person. For me it calms me down because it allows me to focus on one small aspect at a time,” she said, adding that coloring in her book makes her feel productive and that she gets a certain sense of satisfaction from being creative (i.e. doing something other than watching Netflix).

The idea of turning to coloring as a coping mechanism for stress is a common selling point for the books. But is there actually any science to it? There is a particular series of adult coloring books, titled Color Me Mindful, which claims to have designed their page layouts and colors in an attempt to be psychologically calming and appealing. Similarly, adult coloring books are available to students through the Health and Wellness Center on campus.

As expected, though, it is not just Lewis & Clark College that is afflicted by this craze. Michelle Wengler, a sophomore at the University of California, Santa Barbara, colored a lot, both as a child and during her free time as a young adult. Like Burks, Wengler colors when she wants “to do something other than watch Netflix.” Like Grebner, though, the prospect of coloring also stresses her out.

“Because I have a coloring calendar, I usually color at the end of each month to prepare for the upcoming month, but because there’s a time limit, it doesn’t always help with the stress. I also have two coloring books, which are more relaxing since there isn’t a time limit.”

It appears that the adult coloring fad offers would-be coloring book enthusiasts a type of structured creativity, combining meditative pastime with quasi-artistic outlet. If this sounds like you’re interested in, you can visit Powell’s fantastic selection of adult coloring books (including ones for children; I have a Crayola Avengers coloring book that is awesome), or check out the cheaper deals on Amazon — or even use some of your extra print balance to print some from off the internet. As long as you don’t mind the “tiny-ass lines.”


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