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Monday, 04 January 2016 | By Gerry Mulvaney


By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing

Little did I know when I wrote last year about Johanna Basford and her colouring books for adults that the topic would start to take a more mainstream position. Ms Basford if you remember was the Scottish Author of Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest, both best sellers, with the former having sold now more than 1.5 million copies.

It seems that adults can’t get enough of this type of colouring book and apparently adult colouring books now top the best seller lists at Amazon. What can be going on when so many people are turning to an analogue form of amusement in an increasingly tablet and smartphone age?

It’s not just in the USA that the trend is being picked up – Secret Garden has been translated into fourteen languages and distributed across Europe and Asia. Maybe it ties in with the current trend of mindfulness – paying more attention to the present moment, to your own thoughts and feelings and the world around you. Perhaps taking time out for “you” with a colouring book and crayons can have a positive effect on your wellbeing and health.

Adult colouring book being used for a time out activity

Adults taking time out and colouring in

Research in the USA would seem to back up this theory. It has long been known that art therapy can help reduce stress and anxiety in patients with serious diseases like cancer for example. A study in 2006 found that mindfulness art therapy for women cancer sufferers helped to significantly decrease their symptoms of physical and emotional distress during their treatment. Another 2006 study found that one hour of art therapy helped adult cancer patients of all ages, who “overwhelmingly expressed comfort” and a desire to continue with the therapy.

Newer research has shown that it’s not just cancer patients who can benefit, but those with depression, anxiety and dementia all get significant benefit from participating in art therapies.

Where adult colouring books help is in making the therapy even more accessible. Not all of us are blessed with artistic talents and can draw and paint on a blank canvass to any degree of competence, but the adult colouring books overcome this lack of ability and enable the user to take predesigned shapes and pictures and colour in unique versions, expressing their own individuality.

Dr Stan Rodski’s adults’ colouring book

Dr Stan Rodski, neuropsychologist, publishes therapeutic colouring books for adults

However some art therapists suggest that having the pages pre-printed means that while the books are therapeutic, they are not true art therapy. That may be correct, but the results are still impressive according to Dr Stan Rodski, a neuropsychologist who also happens to publish his own line in colouring books. He claims that colouring creates calmness similar to meditation and can be measured by heart rate and brainwaves. He told the Australian Broadcasting Company that part of this response comes from the repetition and patterns in colouring books.

Nanography® – Publishing Printing for Adults?

Whether adult colouring books are just a current fashion or will have a longer lasting impact remains to be seen, but new technology affecting mainstream printing, like Benny Landa’s Nanography® process will open up more new markets for publishers in future.

Array of adult colouring books

Adult colouring books – a new opportunity for publishing printers?

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