Artful Adult Coloring Books You Need Now

July 20, 2016 by Erin Behan

The days when coloring was an activity relegated to elementary school are long gone. Instead, adults of late have been coloring their pencils to nubs, and their markers are running dry. Yes, coloring books for adults are a booming business — according to Nielsen Bookscan about 12 million were sold in 2015, and that's up from about 1 million in 2014 — as adults rediscover the creative and calming powers of coloring.

Artful Adult Coloring Books You Need Now - Jon Burgerman
Accomplished artists are answering the siren call, producing adult coloring books that range from the crazy doodle creature fest that you find in Jon Burgerman's Burgerworld (out August 16, 2016) to the Zen places (gardens, forests, oceans) in Johanna Basford's highly popular and meditative adult coloring books.

In the case of Burgerman, a UK-born and NYC-based artist, his drawings call to mind urban street art, and the dense patterning of creatures with long limbs, googly eyes, and food features (anthropomorphic burgers and slices of pizza figure prominently) offer a lot of options for fun color combinations in his fictitious land of Burgerworld.

Ferris Plock's Food Faces coloring book follows a similar fantastical vein with page-after-page of bizarrely imaginative faces that stem from Plock’s new book by the same name that's essentially a recipe book for playing with your food (parents who want their kids to eat their veggies, take note).

Artful Adult Coloring Books You Need Now - Doodlers
For an adult coloring book that will introduce you to a bevy of contemporary artists, there's Outside the Lines (a New York Times bestseller) and Outside the Lines, Too, both curated by art enthusiast Souris Hong. As you work your way through the books, you can gain a kinship with big-name artists such as Keith Haring, AIKO, Shepard Fairey, Dalek and Justina Blakeney, all of whom have pieces in them. And, yes, it is absolutely fine if you don’t stay within the lines. Looking for even more artist mash-up coloring books? Check out Doodler's Epic Coloring Book Extraordinary, which sandwiches in 90 illustrations from a roster of international artists.

Artful Adult Coloring Books You Need Now - Johanna Basford
Devotees of Johanna Basford (she's sold more than 2 million copies of her books worldwide) believe that there are no coloring books like her coloring books: Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, Lost Ocean. Her incredibly detailed drawings often have hidden images in them — tiny birds or insects, for example — which add a sense of discovery to the coloring experience. Her fans are so devoted to honoring her work with their precise coloring that there's a page on her website devoted to showing off the finished product.

Want more pattern, less whimsy? There's Jenean Morrison's many pattern-focused books (she's been producing them to much acclaim since 2012), like Flower Designs Coloring Book and Mandala Design Coloring Book. Their repetitive patterns are meant to be soothing, and since each image is single-sided, it’s easy to think of your finished product as your own brilliant work of art.

Just how big has the trend become? Even Justin Beiber is doing it. But don't let that stop you from finding your favorite adult coloring book (there's ones devoted to cursing, inspired by tattoos, or devoted to pop culture phenoms like Benedict Cumberbatch and Game of Thrones), spending a small fortune in fine colored pencil and pen supplies, and coloring to your heart's content. Who knows, maybe you'll become inspired enough to start drawing your own illustrations for others to color in. Oh, and if you need any paper for that, we've got loads over at

Erin Behan

Written by Erin Behan

Erin Behan is an L.A.-based writer and editor who considers fine paper one of life's little pleasures.


Visit Distinct Papers to buy high-quality paper or card stock for your next project or to find the right copy paper, correspondence stationery and envelopes.


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