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Adult Coloring Books Going Mainstream (At Least Some of Them)

Are crayons and coloring books outside the lines for adults? Not according to Crayola and other promoters of line drawings for the older set.
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Looking for a unique gift this holiday season? How about a sophisticated coloring book for the man or woman in your life? Crayola, in partnership with the creative media company Brit + Co, just introduced its first artist-contributed coloring book for grown-ups.

“Coloring is a classic, creative activity that provides an escape,” said Kim Rompilla, director of platform marketing at Crayola. “This partnership is a terrific opportunity for Crayola and Brit + Co to show our belief that everyone is creative.”

Available at Target for $9.99, “Pattern Play” is a 78-page volume of unique artwork that references nostalgia and pop culture. The final designs were chosen from over 1,400 submissions.

The book represents “a new tactile and interactive experience for millennials,” according to a joint press release by the companies, which says studies indicate “most people take a break from their creative hobbies during their transitional years of high school and college, but often return at the age of 26.”

No longer regarded as a gag gift, adult coloring books have slowly been gaining in popularity. Crayola now offers a full line of products for adults.

Thinking Outside the Crayon Box, Adults Use Coloring as Stress-Reducer

And the pastime has gained attention in recent months, with actress Zooey Deschanel and South Korean pop star Kim Kibum among the celebrities who have proudly posted their masterpieces on Facebook and Instagram.

Promoters of coloring for the older set say it has therapeutic properties and can aid in personal growth.

"Creativity positively impacts many parts of our lives and helps us grow cognitively, emotionally and even professionally,” noted Brit Morin, CEO and founder of Brit + Co.

And Jacqueline Breslin, human capital services director at TriNet, a human resources company, said adult coloring books would be a good addition to office recreational opportunities.

“We’re so used to seeing ping pong tables or video arcade games in larger offices, but if I were planning some kind of break room for employees I would definitely include coloring books,” she said. “For people with intense jobs, they are a fantastic stress reliever.”

It's not just stars and starlets and over-stressed millennials who are intrigued and calmed by the adult-oriented pattern books. They even provide food for thought for professional designers.

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"I like to solve a problem or puzzle visually, not create one," said Albany, New York, based graphic designer Morgan Jordan. "I like to be creative within certain boundaries and parameters. Adult coloring books are just that, but without all of the stress that comes with pleasing a client, deadlines or budget constraints, on a much more simplistic scale. I can see why adults find it to be relaxing."

However, not all artists applaud the new trend.

“On one hand, I welcome any enthusiasm of any kind about art on behalf of the general public,” said Thomas Jane, editor and creative director of the Illustration Age blog and a professional illustrator. “It's always nice to see illustration get some time in the spotlight. That being said, it's difficult for me to see this as anything other than the latest fad, not unlike magic eye paintings and so many other things that have been (temporarily) all the rage over the years. I really don't hold out any hope that this will lead to a greater appreciation of art in a broader sense."

As a final note for those who were hoping that “adult” coloring books meant something else, there are options for you as well.

Among them is “The Big Coloring Book of Sex Positions,” where “what color you choose for the afterglow is totally up to you.” Braver souls may want to purchase “The Fetish Coloring Book,” which the authors tout as “a remarkable way to say ‘I love you’ on grandma’s birthday, your friend’s birthday, your mother’s birthday, or your colleague’s birthday.”