Amelia’s Magazine | Illustrator Johanna Basford talks about being #TwitterPicture girl and more


Johanna Basford specialises in finely detailed monochrome pen and ink illustrations, and and last year came to the media’s attention after she conceived #TwitterPicture, pills a crowd-sourcing exercise in which she asked tweeters to suggest images that she then compiled over a 48 hour period into one giant montage, nurse letting those involved follow her progress using the picture-sharing site Twitpic. Here she talks to recent collaborator Neil Ayres about working with the Edinburgh Fringe, the ongoing success and continuing permutations of #TwitterPicture, agency representation and making sure, when it comes to her work, that she’s always a little bit scared.

Johanna Basford_BotanicalRhapsody
Botanical Rhapsody, commissioned by Queensberry Hunt Ceramicists to create hand drawn surface patter designs for tableware collection, 2008.

For those that don’t know, and at the risk of making you cringe, you’re the ‘#TwitterPicture girl’. The first #TwitterPicture was a big success, but it was evident to anyone who was following your progress that it was pretty exhausting. You decided to follow it up with an even more gruelling version. Was this really sensible?
I’m a firm believer that if something isn’t challenging, it’s not worth doing. I work in a huge industry saturated with talent. My thoughts are that you have to put yourself on the edge a little bit to make yourself stand out. There’s nothing captivating about mainstream. 
Johanna Basford_DialogueOfTheDogs
Detail from an illustrated interpretation of Cervantes’ The Dialogue Of The Dogs, for The New Goodbye iPhone app, 2010.

You recently used the #TwitterPicture premise to create artwork for the Edinburgh Fringe. You’re also illustrating all of the literature for the coming festival. What other work has this involved?
I’m working with Edinburgh-based design agency Whitespace to create a series of illustrations for the programme, as well as having produced the final artwork which was the result of the #FringeCover #TwitterPicture. As the Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival, it’s obviously been a privilege to work on the project. I’ve tried to capture the bubbly sense of excitement and eccentricity which is at the heart of the Edinburgh Fringe. I managed to smuggle a few little quirks and surprises into the final artwork which I hope will delight and intrigue the audience.

Johanna Basford_Fashion_Vogue
Hand drawn images layered over fashion photography for Vogue, 2009.

And any more #TwitterPictures on the horizon? I’m sure it’s nice to be the go-to person for something, but are you in danger of becoming typecast?
Every time I finish a #TwitterPicture, I get a little over emotional and swear, ‘never again’. Yet I find myself being drawn back to the format of live drawing and crowd sourcing just a few months later. I would never run the same project twice, but I do believe evolving an idea to fit different formats and meet new challenges is both positive and interesting. Whether it’s adding the webcam, the non-stop 24 hour drawing or teaming up with a commercial client, each evolution of the #TwitterPicture has explored something new in the idea and pushed the concept to more extreme levels. As for the danger of becoming typecast, one look at my desk would reveal the dozen or so projects I am working on at any one time. Be it textile designs, custom packaging, illustrations, limited edition prints, website graphics or tattoos – my practise is diverse and always developing, the only constant thread is my love of monochrome.

Johanna Basford_Heartbreak
Heartbreak Pen and ink illustration, later screen printed as part of a limited edition print series created with Heartbreak Publishing, 2009.

Tell us a bit about how you came to do what you do. Have you drawn pretty much since you were knee-high to a pencil?
More like a Crayola crayon. I’ve always drawn, much to the peril of my parents who had to put up with a toddler who drew on walls. It’s a cliché, but I’ve always known I was going to end up drawing, I just wasn’t quite sure of the exact format. I went through phases of wanting to be an architect and a fashion designer, but at the core of everything was this passion for drawing. 
After school I went to art school and studied printed textiles, specialising in silk screen printing. I graduated and spent a couple of years making hand-printed wallpapers and fabrics, feeling a bit confused and very unhappy about the direction I seemed to be heading in. Then, thank God, the credit crunch hit. The recession was the best thing that has happened to me. It forced me to seriously rethink what I was doing, to be completely brutal with myself. I re-evaluated my business and the work I was producing and made some big decisions. I stopped messing about making and selling products. I set myself up as an illustrator, focused on the one thing in life which never fails to inspire and delight me. I’ve not looked back since. Life is good.
Johanna Basford_MoonlitWalks_chapillo
MoonlitWalks, Chapillo illustration for iPhone app The New Goodbye, 2010

And how have you managed to carve a career in what’s a notoriously difficult industry to break into. Did you start out with any form of game-plan?
I’m very conscious that my industry is jam-packed with talent and ambition and that each year a new wave of eager graduates swarm into the pool of illustrators competing with each other. I’ve always thought it was better to do something different, something a little unusual, which would help me stand outside the crowd and be different. So I concentrated on creating the most detailed, intricate, hand-crafted designs, done almost exclusively in monochrome. I can’t compete with everyone on every level, so I focus on creating the best work I can for a specific niche. That’s not to say I’m not flexible in my work, and I would never limit myself on a brief, but for the main part, I want to be known as the girl who does ‘the-super-detailed-hand-drawn-black-and-white-drawings’.

Johanna Basford_PunkPeacock
PunkPeacock first shown at 100% Design, 2008.

We’ve worked together on a project recently, to republish a novelette, The Dialogue of the Dogs, by Miguel Cervantes [author of Don Quixote] as part of an iPhone app. Illustrating an old, respected text must have proved a different challenge to the type you’re used to. How did you go about it? There are hundreds of different elements in the finished illustration—is there much preparation involved?
Reading is not my strong point, so I did have to plough my way through the story a few times to really get to grips with it. I then made lists of important events, main characters and iconic images from the text and started time lining them together into a sequence which mirrored the narrative of the story. Using my trusty lo-fi methods, I stuck together lots of sheets of paper to make one long canvas and started drawing in the top left hand corner. The drawing process was unplanned. I just followed the flow of the story, sketching in the characters and scenery as I came to them, working from left to right. As the paper filled up, I stuck another sheet on. The creative process was organic and rambling, which I felt fitted the narrative thread of the story. As the drawing grew, I moved off my desk and worked on the floor, finally, several metres of paper later, the artwork was complete.
Johanna Basford_SweetNothings_chapillo
SweetNothings Chapillo Chapter illustration for iPhone app The New Goodbye, 2010,

You’ve worked with some interesting clients, particularly high-profile in the creative industry (aside from the Fringe there’s Heal’s, the V&A, BBC, among others). Do you have any particular ambitions in regards to your illustration?
I love the challenge of working with new clients in mediums and contexts which are unfamiliar to me. I’ve just finished working with Oxford University Press on my first book cover which was brilliant. My primary aim is to keep things scary. The anxiety of working on a project in which I may be a little out of my depth always inspires my best work. Looking forward, I’d like to work with some more big name clients; I’d like to see my drawings come to life through animation; I’d be keen to work on some more multimedia projects. And as specific examples, I’d love to get my hands on a Selfridges’ shop window and a Boutique Hotel. I’d also love to tackle more installation projects and supersize my artwork. I have a lot of plans. I just need more hours in the day.

You’re represented by NB Illustration, and this is a relatively recent arrangement, right? How’s that working out?
I signed with NB at the start of the year as a way of opening up my work to a new audience. NB has been crucial in introducing my work to a segment of the industry I just wasn’t able to tap into alone. They handle all the horrible or slightly boring stuff and leave me to the joyful task of drawing. They warned me when I signed with them that it might take a few months for the first piece of work to come in, but we had just a week to let the ink on the contract dry before they lined me up with my first job. For an illustrator, they’re a great agency. Not so large that my work is lost in the chatter, but big enough to have a firm standing in the industry. If the first four months is anything to go by, it’s going to be a fruitful partnership.

Do you still feel the urge to push your work as well as relying on the agency?
Most definitely. I think you have to work in tandem with your agent to ensure you are reaching as wide an audience as possible, not just sit back and wait for them to come to you with work. I’m always working on numerous other projects direct with clients alongside the work I’m producing for NB, and usually have a few self-initiated and collaborative projects on the go too. I like it busy. I believe keeping the mix of work, clients and collaborators constantly evolving forces me to learn new skills, develop my craft and push my work to new levels.

Johanna has a website and blog at HYPERLINK “”; or find her on Twitter: @johannabasford; The New Goodbye, the app that includes her illustrated narrative of The Dialogue of the Dogs is released on the App Store at the end of May and the Edinburgh Fringe takes place 6-30 August.

Categories ,#TwitterPicture, ,edinburgh, ,Edinburgh Fringe, ,Heals, ,illustration, ,iphone app, ,Johanna Basford, ,NB Illustration, ,Selfridges

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Amelia’s Magazine | Johanna Basford presents Johanna’s Christmas: Giveaway and Interview Exclusive!

The latest adult colouring book by the phenomenonal Johanna Basford is released this week, a crafty Christmas colouring book designed to be used in multiple ways. As Johanna herself is fond of saying “I make colouring books so you can make masterpieces!” Colouring has moved out of books and spread through the crafting community, and Johanna perfectly captures this moment with a book of one sided images on perforated pages that can easily be removed to share as Christmas cards, decorations, gift tags… or whatever you dream of doing. “Johanna’s Christmas: A Festive Colouring Book (Colouring Books)” is chock full of traditional Christmas imagery such as deer, festive birds, trees, presents, gingerbread, sleighs, bells, baubles, stockings, curlicues and a series of hidden robins. Expect a mix of evocative narrative scenes, her signature mirror images and more of her ribbon designs, where decorative elements stretch across the page. Johanna’s Christmas is a book sure to engage fans old and new, and best of all, I have THREE copies to give away so hop on over to my Facebook Page HERE and leave a comment telling me what you love most about Christmas time to be in with a chance to win… better still, the giveaway is OPEN WORLDWIDE, so if you live outside the UK this is your chance to get the book with a gold foiled cover! Now read on for my exclusive interview, in which we also discuss her last release Magical Jungle.

The winners of Johanna’s polar bear Christmas colouring competition: Sydney, Sarah P, Kocialka, Jenny and Chiblla. Read why Johanna chose these versions of her polar bear here.

Johanna’s Christmas. Colourist: Amelia

How did you choose your top colourists to receive advance copies of your new book?
They were all Colourists who’s work had caught my eye on social media or on my colouring gallery (or I watch their YouTube channels!). I liked the fact that instead of trying to woo traditional journalists or book reviewers, we were getting the books straight into the hands of colourists so they could start making some masterpieces!

What are your favourite coloured pages, and why?
Literally far too many to choose from! It’s like asking a mother which of her children is her favourite! I think the great thing about colouring is that you never see the same image twice and that every colourist brings something completely new to the black and white drawings. Having said that, I’m always partial to a stunning background technique. Those people that do the ‘starry night sky’ effect will never fail to amaze me!

American cover.

UK cover.

You create an incredible amount of pages for each new book – do you ever find yourself getting bored of drawing a particular object, and if so, how do you make it exciting?
I genuinely never get bored of drawing! Admin? Yes. Digital updates? Yes. Drawing? Never! I think nature is an amazing, unlimited melting pot of inspiration and although every jungle is leafy, no 2 leaves are the same! I spent hours pouring over foliage reference books and sweating it out in the Botanical Garden hot houses admiring every type of leaf and vine you can imagine – there was not shortage of inspiration!

Magical Jungle. Colourist: Vicki Walsh

Magical Jungle. Colourist: Susie Pala-Loir

How did you source the specialist paper used in Magical Jungle and Johanna’s Christmas?
I worked with the Penguin US team to find a paper that was the perfect weight, texture, tooth and colour for my books. After rejecting many, many samples, we worked with a paper manufacturer to make my very own paper that matched my ideal specifications perfectly. Think of it as paper couture! It was a huge honour to have this opportunity to get THAT geeky about paper. We then used the spec of this paper as the benchmark for all my foreign publishers, which in this instance includes the UK, to match their paper to. There will always be slight difference and nuances between paper stocks, (it is after all a product of nature and no 2 trees are the same!) but we aim to create consistant, beautiful books across the world that offer colourists the finest papers on which to make their masterpieces and develop their creative practice.

Magical Jungle. Colourist: Morena Vajak

How much have you listened to colourists in the making of Magical Jungle? Everyone seems to be very happy about the fact that the images don’t go into the spine, for example. 
A LOT. This is a partnership, a collaboration. If one half of the require need certain things in order to make the best final outcome, then it’s up to me to supply them with what they need. I’m very active on social media and value my place in our colouring community, it would be entirely odd to be in this space, communicating with colourists and not take notice of what they say! It’s a privilege to have this job and as I always say, I make books so Colourists can make masterpieces!

Magical Jungle. Colourist: Maureen Langham

Magical Jungle. Colourist: Lucy Fyles

Magical Jungle. Colourist: Kerri Taylor

Roughly how many hours went into Magical Jungle?
Heaps! A book takes me about 5 months to draw, then another few months in production with the publisher. I also have a few months at the start to mull over ideas and research. The reality is I never stop thinking about a book when I’m in the midst of creating it, I even dream about my books!

Magical Jungle. Colourist: Hazel Smithies

What has the reception been like at your book signings? You have any particular events jumped out at you? (do you recognise the names of any of the colourists that you meet for example?)
Book signings are always lovely as it’s a chance to meet the people behind the profile pics! I spend so long interacting with the colouring community online that it a real treat to finally say hello and give them a hug in person! And yes, there’s been a few that I’ve known online for some time now that travelled huge distances to come along to the events, it’s very humbling and also very special to finally get a selfie with them!

Magical Jungle. Colourist: Amanda Pinchbeck

As you create more colouring books have you found yourself getting more into the act of colouring itself? There seems to be quite a demand for your tutorials!
Yes. Initially I was hesitant to share my colouring as I felt my role was to create the artwork, not colour it. I’ve always enjoyed working in coloured pencil though and did a lot of this type of work when I was at school because colouring pencils were so accessible (a 17 year old has a rather limited materials budget!). I colour a lot, it’s important to test run the artwork and check the shapes and scale are suitable for colouring, the line weight is just right and also that the paper is good. And of course, it allows me to test a lot of pens and pencils so when people ask questions about what art supplies work well, I can give an honest and informed answer. I guess it’s like being a chef; you have to taste your food to know if it’s good or not!

Johanna’s Christmas. Colourist: @sseungei

What can we expect from your upcoming Christmas book?
I’ve tried to capture the sense of excitement, charm and whimsy of the festive season within the pages of this book. There’s an owl in a Christmas jumper, a robin delivering gifts, lots of tangles of holly and ivy and some beautiful big poinsettia blooms! In total there are 37 illustrations, all printed single sided and with a detachable spine so Colourists can remove their creations when complete and share them as Christmas gifts or use them in craft projects. It also means some art materials likes solvent based markers and heavy glitter pens can be used without fear of bleeding through to the design on the reverse. Finally, there’s no list of things to find in this book, instead there is a flock of festive robins hidden throughout the pages for you to find.

Johanna’s Christmas. Colourist: @ugenechin39

Can you tell us about the musical notes on the front cover?
I’m not the musical one in my family (my sister is!) so when I drew a few bars of music flowing along the front of the cover and posted a WIP sketch on facebook, the colouring community were quick to point out the my scribbly notes were back to front and upside now – musical gibberish! Thank goodness for feedback – that could have been embarrassing if that went to print! I amended the cover and now those musical notes play out the first 4 bars of Jingle Bells. I love that the colouring community helped shape the cover and that now there’s a secret little hidden festive reference in those notes at the bottom. Jingle all the way!

Johanna’s Christmas. Colourist: @kourtneyferroart

What is your starting point when you hide something on a page, and why did you choose a robin?
Usually I hide as many things in a book as possible. I love tiny details and things you have to search for. When I was little we would often visit Brodick Castle on the Isle of Arran where there was chair carved by Robert Thompson (aka Mouseman). He carved a little mouse onto every piece of furniture he made, it was like a little hidden signature. I loved that charming way of stamping his work. I try to do something similar by hiding little intricate details in all my drawings. This can be anything from a butterfly to a lizard but for Johanna’s Christmas I wanted a single festive motif that people could find. The robin seemed perfect. Also, who doesn’t love spotting a robin on a snowy morning? They are like nature’s treasure hunt! I draw the entire picture first, then add the hidden elements at the end, so I can find the perfect hiding place for them!

Johanna’s Christmas. Colourist: Claire Eadie

How will you be celebrating Christmas this year? What family traditions do you have?
Food. Lots and lots of food! I tackled Christmas dinner myself once many years ago and swore I’d never do it again! There was a terrifying incident involving turkey giblets… My skills lie firmly in helping with the washing up! I like all the traditional elements of Christmas day, the crackers on the table, the awful jokes inside, cheap paper crowns, mountains of crumpled wrapping paper and perhaps best of all, the left overs! Cold kilted sausages (I believe these are called Pigs in Blankets to the rest of the world outside of Scotland!) are my favourite Christmas evening snack!

Magical Jungle. Colourist: @daphnesgallery

Finally, what are you working on next?
I’ve just completed a project with Canon to create 4 new colouring images that can be downloaded throughout the year and a wonderful collaboration with Method, the cleaning products company. I have some limited edition products launching with them next year that I cannot wait to share with the world! We’re also putting the final touches to some colouring books marks, a candle and home fragrance collection (with scents I helped develop inspired by books!) and just this morning I spoke with my jigsaw puzzle partners about the Magical Jungle puzzles we’ll be launching soon.

Magical Jungle tutorial by Chris Cheng.

And of course, there is a new book in the pipepline – but I’m keeping that a bit secret for now!

Johanna’s Christmas is published by Virgin Books/Penguin Books. Win your very own copy of this book by telling me your favourite thing about Christmas in the comments on my Facebook Page HERE. THREE winners will be picked on Saturday 12th November. OPEN WORLDWIDE.

Or order your books from Amazon – these are affiliate links so if you order through them you will help support this website. Thank you!
Amazon UK:
Johanna’s Christmas: A Festive Colouring Book (Colouring Books)
Magical Jungle: An Inky Expedition & Colouring Book (Colouring Books)

Amazon US:
Johanna’s Christmas: A Festive Coloring Book for Adults
Magical Jungle: An Inky Expedition and Coloring Book for Adults

Categories ,Adult Coloring, ,Adult Coloring Book, ,Adult Colouring, ,Brodick Castle, ,Canon, ,Chris Cheng, ,Christmas Coloring, ,Christmas Colouring, ,Colourist, ,Exclusive, ,Hazel Smithies, ,interview, ,Isle of Arran, ,Johanna Basford, ,Johanna’s Christmas, ,Johanna’s Christmas: A Festive Colouring Book, ,Lucy Fyles, ,Magical Jungle, ,Maureen Langham, ,Method, ,Morena Vajak, ,Penguin Books, ,Susie Pala-Loir, ,Virgin Books

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Amelia’s Magazine | Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford: Exclusive Colouring Book Review and Artist Interview

Lost Ocean cover
Johanna Basford is the prolific illustrator behind Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest and now Lost Ocean, which was published in October 2015. For her latest underwater adventure Johanna has gone back to her marine roots to pull together a gorgeous volume full of intricately detailed drawings inspired by real creatures and ocean fantasies. It’s a must have for any colouring enthusiast!

Johanna Basford portrait
How long did it take to create your new colouring book, Lost Ocean, working on average how many hours a day?
Lost Ocean took about 4 months to complete. Average days don’t really come into play when you work from home and you have a little person to care for, but I have childcare 4 days a week so I cram as much as I can into these hours, then I work when she (finally!) takes a nap or goes to sleep at night.

Lost Ocean colouring by Johanna
Lost Ocean coloured by Johanna Basford.

What are you favourite memories of growing up on your parent’s fish farm, and how have these influenced the making of Lost Ocean?
My parent’s fish farm is a fresh water one and is located about 20 miles inland (not on the coast), so my experiences there didn’t influence this book so much, apart from seeing tens of thousands of fish every day! My parents are both Marine Biologists though so my sister and I spent a lot of time visiting scientific aquariums and on research vessels as children. We could barely make it through a seafood dinner without someone having their main course dissected and an impromptu biology lesson taking place. I think these kind of things all just help open your eyes as a child and expose you to a vast array of different experiences that form the foundation of your imagination as an adult.

Johanna Basford in studio
Your studio looks wonderful (very jealous!), I believe it is in your house? Where is it located, what is the view, how long have you been there and is it always as tidy as it looks in your videos?
We live in a converted farm building in the Aberdeenshire countryside. We are so lucky to be out in the wilds and I really love that feeling of looking out our windows and seeing the changing seasons. Due to the incredible amount of toys Evie began to accumulate (why do small people have so much stuff?!) we converted my old studio which was next to the kitchen into a playroom and I moved into the space in the attic. It was no hardship though as the view from the apex window out across the surrounding fields is so beautiful and it meant I was tucked away when I needed to work and out of ear shot of little people.

Lost Ocean by Louise Chagger
Lost Ocean coloured by Louise Chagger

How long did you stop working for when you had your daughter, and when during the day do you find it easiest to work now, and why?
I took 6 weeks ‘off’ social media when I had her, but was still checking in on email throughout as my second book, Enchanted Forest was about to go to print. My publishers were super understanding though and we all worked around the craziness that is coping with a new born. I worked around Evie’s schedule until she was 6 months, after which we had a wonderful family friend who is a nanny come and help me a few days a week. It wasn’t till then that I really got stuck back into things properly. I work best in the morning, always have done.

Lost Ocean by nijnaa
Lost Ocean coloured by nijnaa

What kind of work commitments are your priority now your time is more limited?
Now that there’s more to cram into a day I’m a lot more selective about what I can take on. I’d rather turn down a job or rejig a deadline than deliver bad work late. I’ve scaled back a lot on commission work and focused on the books and long term projects – the lead times for commercial illustration work are often just days or in some cases hours long and more often than not required immediate amends to meet print deadlines. I just can’t offer that level of flexibility anymore so I’d rather pass up on a job or recommend someone else, than take it and be unprofessional.

Lost Ocean Fish by Maria C Crowdey
Lost Ocean DPS by Maria C Crowdey
Lost Ocean coloured by Maria C Crowdey

What have been the most difficult and the most wonderful things about continuing to work and being a mum at the same time?
The most difficult thing is the guilt. I think all Mums experience this though whether they are working or not. You always feel you could do better for your child. I feel bad for not being with her every day, for letting her watch Cbeebies when I’m trying to answer urgent emails at 6am and for not serving her up a delicious, organic meal I’ve prepared myself every night.

Lost Ocean by Naomi Russell-Baugh
Lost Ocean coloured by Naomi Russell-Baugh

That being said, I wouldn’t change our situation. I love what I do and I’m so lucky to have a job that truly makes me happy. After a day of work or a trip away, I’m so delighted to see her. We make the very most of all the time we have together and I never take a day off for granted. Having that space to do a job I love and fire up my creative and intellectual side means that when I’m back in Mum mode I do so with a fresh head and a happy heart.

Johanna Basford Lost Ocean 1
Where is your favourite place to walk when you want to clear your head and reinvigorate your creative sensibilities?
We live in the middle of nowhere, so I love to bundle Evie into the carrier, grab the dog and walk around the fields and woodland the surround our home. I love the fresh air on my face, to see Simcoe our dog bounding about enjoying the outdoor time and to show Evie the changing seasons.

Lost Ocean by toomuchgoodfood
Lost Ocean coloured by toomuchgoodfood

How are you sharing your love of nature with your daughter Evie?
We spent a lot of time our doors playing, I want to give her the same sort of free range childhood that I had as a child. In the summer we pottered about in the garden, picking strawberries we had grown and smelling the flowers. As Autumn fell we gathered leaves for painting projects and looked for conkers.

Lost Ocean by Tamila Kushnir
Lost Ocean coloured by Tamila Kushnir

You have said that being scared inspires your best work, what situations are most likely to scare you the most nowadays?
Scary deadlines! Now that time is so scarce, anything that involves a short deadline terrifies me. I worry that I’m taking too much on, then I worry that I’m not pushing myself hard enough…

Lost Ocean front plate by Patricia Grund
Lost Ocean front plate coloured by Patricia Grund

You initially trained as printed textile designer (like me!) Now, do you consider yourself an illustrator, a designer, an artist or all the above?
An illustrator. I draw pictures, nothing more, nothing less.

Lost Ocean by laurengunnart
Lost Ocean coloured by laurengunnart

Where do you screen print your artist editions, and how often do you get to do that now?
Dundee Contemporary Arts. I love it there. These days I rarely print, but when I do it’s a treat to be surrounded by so many wonderful artists and to have the excellent facilities and staff at DCA on hand.

Lost Ocean by Rebecca Honeybee Swan
Lost Ocean coloured by Rebecca Honeybee Swan

We first met you when you launched your #TwitterPicture project: you have been very adept at using social media and the internet in general to raise your profile, when and why did you start doing so?
I didn’t want to move to London (or any big city for that matter) and knew that in doing so I was isolating myself. I wasn’t going to bump into art directors and commissioning editors at swanky exhibition openings and I certainly couldn’t just pop round their office with my portfolio to tout my wares. To get around this I used social media and the internet to allow me to open up my studio and connect with these people from my little studio in the Scotland. I tried to think of imaginative ways of getting people’s attention and making my work memorable. An email with a PDF or a link to a portfolio is so boring. I tried to be a little different and to think up ways of presenting my work that was a little more imaginative.

Lost Ocean by Amanda Steele
Lost Ocean by Amanda Steele

Why do you think that sharing work online has become such a major aspect of the adult colouring book phenomenon? 
Because we are all so proud of our creations!! For me colouring books are a collaboration. I create those black and white outlines, but it’s not until the owner of the book adds the colour that those illustrations are ever complete. We need to work together to create the final artwork. So when someone has completed a picture, they quite rightly want to show it off! Who wouldn’t?! The best part of my job, without a shadow of a doubt, is seeing all those amazing pictures on social media, in the facebook colouring groups and on my colouring gallery. It’s humbling to think I have the incredible opportunity to collaborate with literally millions of people worldwide and that we get to share our work with the world. I never see the same illustration twice, every time someone colours a picture they make it unique. It’s like a giant game of consequences; I do my part, then hand the books over to the world and everyone picks up the baton (or should I say the pencil!) and completes the pictures.

Johanna Basford Lost Ocean jelly fish
How much time do you have to upload stuff to your blog and various other online platforms these days? Your Pen Geekery section on your blog is so fabulously… geeky!
Not as much as I would like! Social media and my blog is so very important to what I do, so I try to schedule time for it every day. Whether that’s just posting a quick WIP on Instagram or uploading a new Vlog to YouTube, I feel the colouring community online are so important to what I do, so I want to connect with them as much as I can.

Lost Ocean by renatagclementino
Lost Ocean by renatagclementino

New Designers is one of my favourite places to discover graduate talent, what did taking part in the show do for you?
It was great for me, coming from a relatively small art school in Scotland, to just be in amongst the chaos. It’s good to be a bit scared and New Designers can be an overwhelming place! There’s so much talent, so much energy. Everyone is keen and fresh and unjaded, you don’t get that same feeling again! For me New Designers was a place to make connections. I spoke to lots of people, organized some internships, some freelance work and even had a couple of job offers. Ultimately, it all helped me decided what I did and didn’t want to do going forward.

I love your opinion that technicians are the unsung heroes of art schools! what was the best thing you learnt from them?
The nitty gritty. Like how to get a stubborn stain off a screen. Which inks would last longer than a week if I stored them right. How to make sure my paintings didn’t stick to the inside of a heat press… Not super glam, but it’s practical knowledge like that that you just can’t gleam from a lecture theatre. In my mind, infinitely more useful.

Lost Ocean by jamairanolasco
Lost Ocean coloured by jamairanolasco

Do you or did you ever feel isolated in Aberdeen? How often do you have to travel for work, and have you ever been tempted to move for work reasons?
No. I’m a country girl and I don’t function well in big cities. I can’t draw blossoms and hummingbirds surrounded by concrete and tarmac. I venture down to London about once a month, cram in a whirlwind of meetings then fly north again at bedtime.

Lost Ocean by insolitecass
Lost Ocean coloured by insolitecass. You can download this image for free here

Can you tell us any more about your upcoming collaboration with Staedtler?
Yes, we’re starting to post details of this now. I was approached by lots of different pen and pencil manufacturers this year, asking if I would partner with them. Although I loved all the products that were highlighted to me, I’ve used Staedtler pens since art school and they are the brand that I’ve been recommending for years, so working with them seemed the most honest and natural collaboration. We’ve made a series of videos, a super cool little adult colouring website and there are some special edition products and bundles on the way. I’m also speaking to them about a few top secret colouring projects that I’d like to see realized (watch this space!).

Lost Ocean starfish by dreammaker_kelly
Lost Ocean seahorse by dreammaker_kelly
Lost Ocean coloured by dreammaker_kelly

How do you feel when you see the huge piles of colouring books in book and gift shops across the country?
SUPER PROUD. To see the adult colouring category blossom is the biggest thumbs up you can imagine. What better sign that you are doing something right, something that people truly want in their lives? I love that with every new book that appears, more and more people around the world are putting down their digital devices and picking up pens and pencils. We’re onto a good thing here!

Johanna Basford Lost Ocean whale
I feel as though this Christmas we are about to hit “peak colouring book” for want of a better phrase, do you think the interest in adult colouring books will fade away, and do you see an end point for your (immense) contribution to the genre?
No I honestly don’t. I think adult colouring is just a new form a creativity, one that for whatever reason hadn’t risen to the forefront of popularity yet. The exact format may change and I’m keen to see how the discipline evolves, for example onto new materials, new applications, different techniques (have you seen those pan pastel artworks coming out of Brazil?!) but essentially, I think it’s something we’ve all been craving for a long time. An accessible way to be creative, a digital detox, a stress buster, a warm shot of nostalgia – whatever your reason for initially picking up a colouring book, I’m sure they will become a staple part of your creative life.

Lost Ocean by tatianecandido
Lost Ocean coloured by tatianecandido
Finally, what are you working on now and next? (and any clues as to what another colouring book might contain?)


A charity Christmas project I’m launching on 1st December, more details coming soon!
A new colouring book next summer (details are top secret for now I’m afraid).
More Christmas!
The list goes on and on…

You can tour Johanna’s gorgeous studio in the video above. Lost Ocean is available worldwide. Thank you so much for taking the time to give such brilliant and informative answers Johanna! I can’t wait to see what you do next. Images thanks to the members of Facebook group Colouring Companions and the lovely people who share on Instagram.

Categories ,#TwitterPicture, ,Aberdeenshire, ,Adult Colouring Book, ,Amanda Steele, ,Colouring Book, ,Colouring Companions, ,dreammaker_kelly, ,Dundee Contemporary Arts, ,Enchanted Forest, ,Evie, ,Exclusive Interview, ,insolitecass, ,instagram, ,interview, ,jamairanolasco, ,Johanna Basford, ,laurengunnart, ,Lost Ocean, ,Louise Chagger, ,Maria C Crowdey, ,Naomi Russell-Baugh, ,New Designers, ,nijnaa, ,Patricia Grund, ,Rebecca Honeybee Swan, ,renatagclementino, ,scotland, ,Scottish, ,Secret Garden, ,Staedtler, ,Tamila Kushnir, ,tatianecandido, ,toomuchgoodfood, ,Vlog, ,Youtube

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Amelia’s Magazine | Christmas Gift Ideas: 8 of the Best Colouring Books for Adults

Harriet Plaskitt Lorna Scobie
If you go into almost any shop in the run up to Christmas you’ll find a sea of colouring books fighting for your attention. With so many books to choose from it can be hard to know which ones to pick, but since I’ve become a bit of an adult colouring book aficionado over the past few months I thought I would share the 8 most unique and appealing ones I’ve found. This lovely lot should keep you and your loved ones busy through the Christmas holidays and well into 2016. Which ones will you choose?

Lost Ocean cover
1. Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford
This is the big one. Johanna kickstarted the whole trend in adult colouring books a few years ago with her bestselling book Secret Garden, and this year she’s back with another beautiful volume of intricate artworks inspired by underwater fantasies. The artwork is top notch, with lovely pacing of different types of image offering real scope for creative input from the colourist. Bound to be another worldwide bestseller. Read my interview with Johanna Basford here.

Dagdrömmar by Hanna Karlzon cover
2. Dagdrömmar by Hanna Karlzon
A book inspired by the daydreams of Swedish illustrator Hanna Karlzon, Dagdrömmar features floating houses, cats with gems, owls, elaborate crowns, mermaids with tumbling hair, more cats, sailing ships, flowers and much more, all beautifully drawn with a Scandinavian flavour. The book is sadly not yet available worldwide, but it can be shipped internationally from the Pen Store. Read my interview with Hanna Karlzon here.

Jungle Paradise_Lorna_Scobie_2
3. Jungle Paradise by Lorna Scobie
Lorna Scobie has a huge following on instagram, where she shares her inimitable animal drawings to much delight. This book is chock full of the cheeky animals and cute critters she has become well known for, with each page featuring a different jungle scene or animal pattern. This beautiful volume has lovely green metallic print on the cover and would be ideal for someone who loves to colour animals and plantlife. Read my interview with Lorna Scobie here.

Escape to Christmas Past by Good Wives and Warriors
4. Escape to Christmas Past by Good Wives and Warriors
This book by artistic duo Good Wives and Warriors is inspired by A Christmas Carol, the famous book by Dickens – making it ideal colouring to get into the festive spirit. There are a huge variety of illustrations to colour in including pretty Christmas decorations, scenes that appear in the story and decorative typography (Bah Humbug!) Read my interview with Good Wives and Warriors here.

beautiful-birds-colouring book
5. Beautiful Birds Colouring Book by Emmanuelle Walker
Beautiful Birds began life as a lovely (and very colourful) children’s A-Z book, but has since been turned into a colouring book featuring the same huge variety of avian life, many translated into patterns that will provide wonderful meditative colouring. The book is published by Flying Eye Books (an imprint of Nobrow) and is therefore beautifully made, with a lovely pink spine trim. An ideal gift for bird lovers in need of relaxation. Read my interview with Emmanuelle Walker here.

Doodlers Anonymous Epic Colouring Book
6. Doodlers Anonymous Epic Coloring Book
The Epic Coloring Book was put together by an open brief on the Doodlers website, hub for a huge community of artists. It’s a diverse collection of images made by 90 artists from all over the world so there’s bound to be something for everyone. Expect lots of narrative scenes, surreal characters and images that would not look out of place in a graphic novel. Read my interview with creator OKAT here.

A Million Cats Lulu Mayo
7. A Million Cats by Lulu Mayo
Only recently released by Michael O’Mara Books, this book features a plethora of amusing and adorable cats in a range of surreal situations; playing music, relaxing on the sofa, taking tea with dogs, masquerading as vegetables and dressed in tuxedos, Decorative patterns have a Japanese flavour, with blossoms and temples featuring heavily. One for the cat lover in your life!

Kickstarter campaign image Ameliasccc
8. Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion
I couldn’t leave it off the list could I?! Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion is a unique collaborative book that features the work of over 40 artists from all over the world. It will appeal to art lovers and colourists alike because it is so much more than just a colouring book; each artist has been given a double page, with a full colour image on the left to inspire a colouring page on the right. There are a huge variety of themes and styles to choose from, including landscapes, underwater scenes, food, Japanese folk tales, cats, lanterns, extreme frisbee and much more.

For more tips on adult colouring visit my recent blog 8 Things You Didn’t Know About Colouring Books For Adults. Happy Colouring this Christmas!

Categories ,#ameliasccc, ,8. Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion, ,A Christmas Carol, ,A Million Cats, ,Adult Coloring Books, ,Adult Colouring, ,Beautiful Birds Colouring Book, ,Coloring, ,Colouring Books, ,Dagdrömmar, ,Doodlers Anonymous Epic Coloring Book, ,Emmanuelle Walker, ,Escape to Christmas Past, ,Flying Eye Books, ,Good Wives and Warriors, ,Hanna Karlzon, ,Johanna Basford, ,Jungle Paradise, ,Lorna Scobie, ,Lost Ocean, ,Lulu Mayo, ,Michael O’Mara Books, ,Nobrow, ,OKAT, ,Pen Store, ,Secret Garden

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Amelia’s Magazine | Colour with Claire: an interview with colouring expert Claire Eadie

Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford
Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford.

Midlands based Claire Eadie discovered colouring as an antidote to stress and has built a fantastic dedicated website, Colour with Claire, to help enthusiastic colourists to choose the right books and colouring materials. She shares her insights with us here…

Colour with Claire Eadie
How and when did you catch the colouring in bug?
I started colouring back in April 2015, after noticing lots of coloured art and news articles popping up on my news feed. A naturally creative person, I knew I’d enjoy colouring and vowed to find out what were the best colouring books and materials to use. After scouring the net I realised there was no online resource dedicated entirely to adult colouring that had the wealth of information I was looking for. So, I decided to create my own little corner of the web for people like me who wanted to know things like the best colouring pencils and pen brands for colouring, what kind of paper is used in certain books, and maybe most importantly – examples of the illustrations inside! Amazon often doesn’t show you much of the book in its previews, so I made sure to add lots of images so people know what they’re buying before they commit. I’ve now reviewed over 130 adult colouring books and many brands of colouring materials! My full background in colouring and how it helps my anxiety disorder can be read on my website.

Animorphia by Kerby Rosanes
Animorphia by Kerby Rosanes.

How often do you get to colour in and what are your preferred images, and why?
As a blog reviewer, I colour ALL the time. I prefer illustrations based on realism, so I love landscapes and life images over abstract and geometrical patterns. Mandalas can look stunning when coloured, but I find them monotonous. I love anything unique and hand-drawn. Horror and the macabre are favourites too!

Where do you recommend that the novice colourist should look online to find out more about books and materials?
Blatant self promotion here but I believe Colour with Claire is the most comprehensive site on the web for colouring book information and reviews of the best materials on the market.

Bird Critters by Sue Coccia
Bird Critters by Sue Coccia

What are your favourite colouring in materials and why?
I love Faber Castell Polychromos pencils. They’re expensive but have an amazing amount of pigment and laydown of colour, and blend like a dream! As for pens, I love alcohol markers like Copics and Promarkers. They will bleed through most types of paper so I can’t use them in double sided books, but the seamless finish and range of colours is unmatched. My favourite waterbased (non-bleed) pens are Staedtler Triplus, because they have a great amount of colour, smooth nibs and the ink doesn’t feather the paper.

Mandala ART by Liz Beekman
Mandala ART by Liz Beekman

Who is your favourite illustrator, can you tell us a bit more about them?
I don’t think I have one to be honest, but like everyone I love Johanna Basford‘s work. Other favourites include Lizzie Mary Cullen for her totally unique artwork and Daria Song for simply beautiful illustrations.

Whimsical Wings by GT Haddix
Whimsical Wings by GT Haddix

Any simple tips for the creation of a top bit of artwork?
Gosh, I am no artist so I can’t really answer that one! I do have a few cheats for zhuzhing your colouring up a bit though. One of them is to grab yourself a lightboard as they are AMAZING for tracing if you can’t draw like me! I created a tree filled with Disney characters in Enchanted Forest that turned out really well.

Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford
Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford

How has your life changed since you got involved with colouring and set up your own website dedicated to colouring?
I have a lot less spare time as all I ever do is colour and review when I have a minute free! I’m constantly getting emails from illustrators, publishers and companies wanting me to review and promote their works, so it’s very full-on. I care for my husband who is disabled and I have two young children so it’s all go in our house!

What is the number one book on your Christmas list and why?
I can’t wait for the BBC Sherlock book (big fan) and Escape to Christmas Past by Good Wives and Warriors. I have Tolkien’s World on the way and A Game of Thrones colouring book (can you tell I’m a bit of a fangirl?)

Secret Garden by Johanna Basford
Secret Garden by Johanna Basford

Lastly, have your children taken to colouring and how do you juggle being a mother and a busy colourist?
My kids love colouring, especially my youngest who is 7 and very creative. They love sitting alongside me colouring in, me with my grown up book and them with their Avengers themed book! They love telling everyone at school that I’m ‘Colour with Claire‘, much to my embarrassment. It’s not easy to juggle it all to be honest. I’ll be slowing down after Christmas once I’ve reviewed the slew of books that are weighing down my shelves, and colouring more ‘for me’ rather than to promote books. The website will still be going strong but I’ll have been doing this for a solid eight months by Christmas so I feel I need to slow it down a little before it stops becoming enjoyable and starts feeling like a chore. I have so many books I love but don’t get time to colour, so you’ll definitely be seeing a lot more of my colouring efforts rather than constant book reviews in the future.

Thankyou so much for your colouring tips Claire, they are much appreciated. Make sure you check out Colour with Claire for loads of great tips on the best books, pens and pencils to feed your colouring desires. Read a lovely blog that Claire has written about Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion here.

Categories ,A Game of Thrones, ,Animorphia, ,Avengers, ,BBC Sherlock, ,Bird Critters, ,Claire Eadie, ,Colour with Claire, ,Colouring with Claire, ,Copics, ,Daria Song, ,Enchanted Forest, ,Escape to Christmas Past, ,Faber Castell Polychromos, ,Good Wives and Warriors, ,GT Haddix, ,Johanna Basford, ,Kerby Rosanes, ,Liz Beekman, ,Lizzie Mary Cullen, ,Mandala ART, ,Promarkers, ,Secret Garden, ,Staedtler Triplus, ,Sue Coccia, ,Tolkien’s World, ,Whimsical Wings

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Amelia’s Magazine | Colouring in the Midst of Madness: An interview with Lucy Fyles

Tangle Bay - Lucy Fyles
Tangle Bay – Lucy Fyles

Colouring Book reviewer Lucy Fyles was one of the first reviewers I discovered when I went hunting for people to write about Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion. Lucy struggles with extreme anxiety and writes her wonderfully astute reviews based on her use of colouring to calm herself down. You can read Lucy’s review of my book here, and there are links to some of her other book reviews under each of her coloured examples below. I caught up with Lucy to find out more about why colouring books have become so important in her life…

Lucy Fyles Desk
You are very open about your struggles with anxiety, how have things changed since you discovered adult colouring?
On a day to day basis my condition is easier to manage. It hasn’t improved, unfortunately colouring isn’t a miracle cure, but my daily levels of anxiety are usually lower and more manageable thanks to colouring and if I notice a panic attack coming on early enough I can sometimes prevent one by focusing on colouring and breathing rather than the panic taking hold. I’m also much busier now thanks to reviewing over 100 books so I have a lot less spare time and time to worry, though it does bring a new set of worries with trying to impress publishers, accurately describe books, keep up with all of the latest colouring news etc.

Secret Garden Artist's Edition - Lucy Fyles
Secret Garden Artist’s Edition – Lucy Fyles

Since starting Colouring in the Midst of Madness have you heard from many other people that have been helped by colouring? What kind of stories do they have?
Yes, I’ve heard from so many people who it’s helping. A lot of them have similar stories to me and are suffering from physical or mental (or both) health problems and are finding that colouring is helping them cope, and helping them escape. People have told me they’re using less pain medication, feeling calmer, feeling their mood lift, improving their concentration, and it’s also giving them a wider community to be part of.

Tangle Wood - Lucy Fyles
Tangle Wood – Lucy Fyles

Secret Garden 2016 Calendar - Lucy Fyles
Secret Garden 2016 Calendar – Lucy Fyles

You have said you also like to bake and crochet – how do you juggle all your hobbies? 
Very badly currently! Colouring has completely taken over my time, my flat and my life! I haven’t had a chance to crochet since the summer and I do really miss it but I’m saving it for when the colouring craze calms down and then I’ll branch back out into doing more of a variety of activities. I do still bake about once a month, maybe more, I like to bake if I have visitors coming (sharing it helps me stick to my diet but I still get to indulge a little) so I do try to squeeze that in whenever I can. I couldn’t live without homemade cake so I have to fit it in around the colouring and generally get a bit of colouring done while my goodies are baking in the oven.

Doctor Who Colouring Book - Lucy Fyles
Doctor Who Colouring Book – Lucy Fyles

What have you learnt on your colouring journey? About art? About materials? About anything really!
Oh my goodness, I’ve learnt so much! When I started I knew nothing about pencils, I had no idea that they could be wax-based or oil-based, I didn’t know you could blend them, I knew nothing about all of the different techniques involved in blending. I knew almost nothing about art or the materials involved so I am a true beginner and my blog is written from that perspective. I’ve learnt the differences between alcohol and water-based ink, how to use watercolour pencils, how to blend and shade and that’s not even mentioning the blog which has been a very steep learning curve for someone who knew nothing about how to create, let alone build a successful blog and publicise it and get it known. I’ve learnt so many new skills, from how to punctuate to make it sound like I’m actually speaking on my blog, to reviewing successfully, to asking publishers and stationers for things (I was terrible at this to begin with, far too British and not wanting to ask for things), and I’ve learnt a lot about myself too and the things I can achieve even whilst housebound.

Harry Potter Colouring Book - Lucy Fyles
Harry Potter Colouring Book – Lucy Fyles

Who are your favourite colouring artists or type of page to colour and for what reason?
I have 5 favourite illustrators currently: Jessica Palmer, Claire Scully, Richard Merritt, Millie Marotta and Johanna Basford, and I can’t choose between their work, it’s all so beautiful! My favourite style, as fans of those illustrators’ work will know, is nature and nature-inspired work. I love realistic images of animals, plants and scenery but I also love imagery made up of other component parts like Millie’s animals created from flowers and leaves, and Jessica’s, Richard’s and Claire’s hyper-detailed creatures that give so much scope for different techniques and textures. Colouring natural images just calms me down, so much more than colouring anything else, and I find it’s the best substitute I have for not being able to experience the real thing in the outside world currently.

*You can read my interviews with Johanna Basford here and Millie Marotta here.

The Menagerie - Lucy Fyles
The Menagerie – Lucy Fyles

When do you colour, where, and what kind of ambience do you prefer?
I colour all the time, inbetween networking on social media and writing and publishing reviews. My preferences are to colour with daylight, especially when I’m using pencils because I find that easiest to get line-free blending. I hate silence but music really affects my mood so I tend not to be able to listen to it very often so I generally have the TV on and during the day I sit at a table right under my lounge window so it’s flooded with light. I live in a small flat so I don’t have a studio or anything, or even a desk so I either colour at my table under my window, or I colour on my knees sat on the sofa. I’m always surrounded by pens, pencils, colour charts and a heap of books and luckily my boyfriend doesn’t mind as long as he’s got a spot to sit in!

Legendary Landscapes - Lucy Fyles
Legendary Landscapes – Lucy Fyles

You are helping out with my new facebook group for Adult Colouring Book Reviews, along with a few other lovely reviewers – how important is the online community for you?
It’s so important to me. As someone who’s virtually housebound, I have an almost non-existent social life and couple that with being extremely extroverted, life at home gets very unhappy and lonely, especially because my boyfriend works 45 hours a week. Having groups I can spend time chatting in and a couple of reviewer friends that I can talk to when things get too much, or to bounce ideas off, makes such a difference. I was without internet for 2 days when we last changed supplier in October and my anxiety sky-rocketed. I’d thought I’d be fine but I felt so cut off and isolated and it was really scary. Being able to reach out to others around the world who are feeling like I am, who have similar interests, or who just make me laugh makes this whole condition much easier to bear because I’m not alone. I don’t know what I’d do without the internet currently.

Animal Kingdom Deluxe Edition - Lucy Fyles
Animal Kingdom Deluxe Edition – Lucy Fyles

What do you hope for in the future? Both in terms of your own health and also in terms of the adult colouring world?
I hope that adult colouring will continue to be popular and continue to reach the people it can benefit and help. I hope that talented artists will continue to create beautiful books for us to enjoy. In terms of my health, I hope it’ll improve, sooner rather than later. It’s almost 2 years that I’ve been virtually housebound for and I’m absolutely sick of it and having my life feel like it’s on pause so my hope is that I’ll start to recover soon and be able to go back to work and back to helping people with mental health problems. My sole aim in life is to help people and I can’t wait to be able to get back to that and start making a difference again! I hope in some small way my reviews are helping people, even if it’s just saving them money or helping them find a book they’ll fall in love with, that’s certainly my aim!

Colour Therapy Colouring Book - Lucy Fyles
Colour Therapy Colouring Book – Lucy Fyles

Thank you so much for answering my questions with such candour Lucy! Read a review of Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion on Colouring in the Midst of Madness here.

You can buy my book on Amazon here: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion: Adult Coloring Book I have recently signed up as an Amazon affiliate, so if you would like to buy this book please do consider using my link, and help support Amelia’s Magazine. (I don’t run adverts, and server costs for this website alone are huge.)

Categories ,Adult Coloring Books, ,Adult Colouring Books, ,Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion, ,Animal Kingdom Deluxe Edition, ,Claire Scully, ,Coloring, ,Colour Therapy Colouring Book, ,Colouring Book, ,Colouring in the Midst of Madness, ,Doctor Who Colouring Book, ,Harry Potter Colouring Book, ,interview, ,Jessica Palmer, ,Johanna Basford, ,Legendary Landscapes, ,Lucy Fyles, ,Millie Marotta, ,review, ,Richard Merritt, ,Secret Garden 2016 Calendar, ,Secret Garden Artist’s Edition, ,Tangle Bay, ,Tangle Wood, ,The Menagerie

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Amelia’s Magazine | 8 Things You Didn’t Know About Colouring Books For Adults

Amelia Gregory portrait
Adult Colouring is a trend you can’t escape, so why not embrace the phenomenon with gusto this Christmas? You might be surprised by how much you and your loved ones enjoy it. I first became fascinated by the growth in popularity of adult colouring a year ago, and although sure it would not appeal to me as a personal hobby I thought the format provided the perfect forum for artists to showcase their work. So I posted a brief on Amelia’s Magazine and set about making Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion. In the interests of research I decided to try adult colouring myself, and before I knew it I was a total convert: from intrigued sceptic to full on addict, here’s what I’ve learnt during my colouring journey so far.

Sophie Corrigan by Sua Agape Adult Colouring Book
Sophie Corrigan coloured by Sua Agape.

1. Colouring Can Be Daunting
Yes, really! Making marks on a blank bit of paper can be daunting to most, but colouring is not necessarily the easy route out. Choosing the right medium and colours can be a scary process, so don’t be surprised if you occasionally find yourself stumped. Colouring is given a bad rap as uncreative but as a colourist you impose your own creativity on that page. Yes, I said colourist. Being a colourist is a thing in the adult colouring world. And I’m not talking hair dye.

2. Colouring Is For Everyone
Don’t let the above put you off: there are many ways to make the creative choices less stressful. Try the wonderful website Color Hunt for simple colour palettes if you’re stuck on what to use. Or, don’t think about what colour you pick up, just use whatever medium you have to hand and be impulsive. There are no rights and wrongs so enjoy the process; it’s supposed to be fun and relaxing. Colouring builds creative confidence so it is a great entry point into further artistic endeavour.

Lorna Scobie by Libby Parra Adult Colouring Book
Lorna Scobie coloured by Libby Parra.

3. Colouring Is A Creative Collaboration
You may be colouring someone else’s creation, but your decisions enable that line drawing to come to life – so don’t underestimate your input. When you spend a lot of time colouring in you get to know the artist’s artwork intimately, so it really helps if you like their style. Go for a theme that appeals to you: from mandalas to mohicans, there are thousands of books now available with designs to suit all tastes. Why not seek your interests out? A good colouring book artist will keep you inspired for days on end.

4. The Colouring Community Thrives Online
You know how colouring is touted as the best way to switch off and step away from the screen? Well that’s true, but there is a thriving adult colouring community sharing artwork online, swapping tips and admiring each other’s work. Facebook is the best place to ogle at some true masterpieces, learn how to achieve the best shading and get into discussions about the pros and cons of vaseline versus baby oil (for blending, nothing nefarious I promise.) No one person will colour a picture the same way and it’s a real thrill to see how differently everyone approaches a similar image.

Suzanne Carpenter Adult Colouring Book
Double page by Suzanne Carpenter.

5. Be Prepared To Be Peaceful
If you really want to get in the zone it’s a good idea to set yourself up with the right equipment. Colouring at night with scratchy pencils under a low wattage lamp without a sharpener to hand does not make for a pleasant experience, so be prepared to invest in some super duper accessories like a lap desk with integral lamp. Headaches are far from restful!

6. Colouring Soon Gets Costly
The online colouring world is full of colourists with hundreds of colouring books and cupboards that spilleth over with pens and pencils. There are many options and they all give different results, so be prepared to spend money on your new habit and become a pencil/pen geek with alarming rapidity. If you are anything like me you will need only the merest excuse to buy new art materials: so before you know it you’ll be salivating over Marco Raffines, comparing Prismacolor colours and experimenting with Gelly Rolls.

Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford Hack by Colour With Claire
Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford, Hack by Colour With Claire.

7. Colouring Pages Get Hacked
It seems that everything can be hacked these days, and by this I do not mean steal – you should always get your colouring pages from a legitimate source and ensure the artists are paid for their work. But why not have a bit of fun and hack an original colouring page image? There’s no law to say you have to stay within the lines, so go wild and add your own elements to the original creation, such as these Disney characters in a Johanna Basford tree by Colour with Claire.

8. Lastly, Colouring Is Addictive
It’s exciting. You can make an image come alive with colour, and there’s a real sense of achievement when you finish colouring a page, especially one that has taken a long time to complete. Which probably explains why colouring is so darn addictive… and can become very time consuming if your addiction really takes hold. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!

Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion is funding now on Kickstarter and features 40 artists from all over the world.

AmeliasCCC Kickstarter campaign image
This article also appears on the Huffington Post.

Categories ,#ameliasccc, ,Adult Colouring, ,Adult Colouring Books, ,Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion, ,Christmas, ,Color Hunt, ,Coloring Books, ,Colour with Claire, ,Colouring Books, ,Colouring Books For Adults, ,Gelly Rolls, ,Hobbies, ,Huffington Post, ,Johanna Basford, ,Kickstarter, ,Libby Parra, ,Lorna Scobie, ,Marco Raffine, ,Prismacolor, ,Sakura, ,Sophie Corrigan, ,Sua Agape, ,Suzanne Carpenter

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