Do you remember scribbling over a colouring book as a child? The struggle to stay within the lines? It was real! As also was the pleasure of pumping life into a black & white piece of paper, through the myriad of colours. Many of us are tempted to pick up crayons and join a toddler blissfully colouring his/her book. I know I do! However, if you think all grown-ups have left this aspect of their lives behind, you can’t be farther from truth. Sure there are those who grew up with artistic pursuits; others, behold the rise of ‘Adult Colouring Books’

The name may sound kitschy, but the books aren’t (well, most of them). Adult colouring books or colouring books for adults, are books with complicated designs or patterns to colour in, and are gaining popularity world-wide as very effective stress-busters, especially among working professionals. If this little facet doesn’t intrigue you much, maybe the following fact will – the adult colouring book industry, today, is already a multi-million dollar industry. The top ten bestselling titles sold at least 1.5 million copies in 2015 alone, according to Publishers Weekly. It says a lot, when three of the top ten best-selling books on Amazon for 2015 - Johanna Basford’s ‘Secret Garden’ & ‘Enchanted Forest’, and Blue Star Colouring’s ‘Adult Colouring Book: Stress relieving Patterns’- are books that grown-ups can colour-in

Although such books have been there for many years, the surge in sales occurred only last year, with works of illustrators such as Basford selling over a million copies. Closer home, we have Subadra Kalyanaraman, who has designed a Madhubani-themed colouring book for grown-ups, titled ‘Shakuntala and her Magic Box’. Subadra is a market researcher by profession, and started painting couple of years ago, with major inspiration being Indian traditional folk art forms. She painted kettles, bottles, coasters, wooden plaques, even pebbles, as a leisure activity and for gifting to her friends. You can find her works on Facebook at ‘Art by Subadra'. It was on one of her trips abroad, while sifting through a section of a book store displaying adult colouring books, that the idea of creating a similar book cross her mind. ‘Shakuntala and her Magic Box’, hand-drawn by Subadra, has a simple storyline written by her husband Balajee GE, which Subadra has depicted through her drawings. They decided to publish the book themselves, and printed 150 copies in the first week of February this year. It was up for sale at an art & craft exhibition in Chennai, and got sold out within the same weekend. The next round of prints were sold online on the website of The Madras Mag, a Chennai-based literary magazine. As the article was being drafted, the book is under its third round of printing having sold all previous copies, and is available for sale on

While talking to us about what made her book an instant hit, Subadra chirped, “The response to our book has been over-whelming! Madhubani being an intricate art form, gives a lot of scope to users to create varied patterns using a number of colours, which makes it enjoyable. It is gratifying to receive photos from people who have tried their hand at colouring the book. Most of them colour over the weekends to de-stress, while some just enjoy getting back in touch with their childhood. I know how much I enjoyed rekindling my artistic side, when I started painting a year and half ago.

To help others do the same, feels truly wonderful.”

Adult Colouring Books are becoming a global phenomenon. People all over the world share photos of their finished pages on social media, with various genres such as pattern, architecture, travel, animal, for cat lovers (yay!), for dog lovers, floral, science, fantasy, fashion, Christmas, colouring your favourite TV/movie characters - you name it!

Like everything else, this trend is frowned upon by few (of course!), blaming the trend for infantilizing human culture. Colouring books, and similar other activities, are looked down upon as an escapist route for people to shun their worries and go back in time to a simpler life - sans bad relationships, failures in business or global warming. However the followers of this trend, which includes a significant number of intelligentsia, have a counter-argument. Sudakshina Bhattacharya, Senior Vice President and Head Human Resources, IFIN, is one of the people who enjoy the Adult coloring book phenomenon. She echoes the thoughts of many who enjoy this new age hobby, "It is a great medium of mindfulness and meditation. The precision to stay within the lines enhances concentration. Maximizing the color choices teaches optimum usage of resources creatively. It is a fantastic exercise where eyes, hands and the mind are in the perfect state of flow"

Psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, too, are increasingly suggesting the use of colouring books to their patients who experience stress and anxiety. Psychiatrist Carl Jüng is widely credited with being the first medical professional to recommend adult colouring to his patients. Jüng is reported to have had many of his patients colour-in Mandalas, which are circular or geometric designs with concentric shapes. According to his research, colouring Mandalas (or other artful images) is an excellent way for adults to become centered and calm

Whatever be the science (or art) behind this new trend, followers swear by it and claim to have benefitted from it. As for the book industry, there is hardly any publishing house today that has not published a book for adult-colouring. So take an hour out this weekend, give this trend a go, and write to us at to let us know your thoughts

By Dhwani Chandel - Deputy Manager, Corporate Communications, IFIN


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