Why colouring in is the trend of 2015


All images Caroline Leeming. Stylist: Claire Brayford. Illustration taken from The Gorgeous Colouring Book For Grown-Ups and soft grip coloured pencils by Faber Castell, available at Fenwick Newcastle 

When we think back to 2015 what will we remember? The outcome of the general election? The birth of Princess Charlotte? Or the year grown men and women fell in love with colouring in?

Since its publication in 2013, 1.4million adults worldwide, their tongues firmly pressed between their lips, have attempted to remain within the lines of Johanna Basford's intricately detailed Secret Garden illustrations. A further 500,000 have shrugged off the stresses of the day with Millie Marotta's elaborate Animal Kingdom. It is a phenomenon that is reaching the masses. Ask around and you will be amazed at how many friends and family are waiting until the children are soundly asleep to steal their felt tips and get scribbling.

As a way to unleash untapped creativity, even for those who can't paint or draw, and as a digital detox it is proving irresistible. Last month five of Amazon's top ten best-sellers were colouring books. Celebrities from Nigella Lawson to Zooey Deschanel - via South Korean pop star Kim Ki-Bum - are also taking to the trend. Although not everyone is enchanted by its mindfulness. Russell Brand dedicated a programme on his YouTube channel, The Trews, entitled Adult Colouring Books: Is This the Apocalypse? while Harry Styles recently tweeted in disgust: "I know we're young but I feel like colouring books in the dressing room is a little far". 


He was, however, happy to receive the ultimate celebrity accolade in a Colour Me Good Harry colouring book by Mel Simone Elliott, an illustrator who has also immortalised Benedict Cumberbatch, Taylor Swift and most recently Tom Hiddleston for our colouring pleasure.

"It is a trend that began at Christmas but has gathered pace ever since as people discovered it is something they really enjoy," says Emma Hawkins, stationery buyer at Fenwick Newcastle. "It is taking many back to their childhood. It's not something people would immediately think of as successful therapy but many are finding it a great way to unwind and relax and we can't keep the colouring books on the shelves."


How to colour in by Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest creator Johanna Basford

  1. Find a book with images you adore. There’s no point subjecting yourself to a colouring book of tractors if all you really want to work on are flowers! There are lots of books covering so many themes, pick one that inspires you.
  2. Select the right pens or pencils for you. Do a test patch somewhere sneaky and see if the colours show up as bold as you would like, check to see if the ink bleeds or if the paper tears under the nib of a sharpened pencil lead.
  3. Use smooth, light strokes and avoid going over the same areas repeatedly as it will weaken the paper and make it prone to tearing.
  4. Don’t worry if you go over the lines! I do this all the time. Colouring isn’t about the pursuit of perfection, it’s about making your mark and having fun. If you scribble over the lines a little, just draw an extra little bit of outline, enclose the spillage and carry on.
  5. Share your work. Social media is a great place to show off what you’ve made and tell people what pens or pencils you have used. I’ve set-up a Colouring Gallery on my website where you can upload your photographs and let everyone see your colouring.

Our top five colouring books

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By Claire Brayford