For Shari Savage, it was an effective way to connect with her daughter, who thrives in the stressful world of investment marketing. The two sat down together on the couch one night, with “The Voice.” But the contestants singing on television soon turned to background noise, as another form of art took center stage.
Their minds were lost in the creative process, focusing on filling in the intricate details of the pictures, taking breaks to catch the other up about their lives and sharpen their colored pencils.
Her daughter, a recent college grad, found the activity to be calming and enjoyable, a break from her anxiety-filled career, if only for a few moments of time.
Adult coloring books seem to be the latest trend to hit society, with publications popping up at Walmart, Barnes & Noble and CVS nationwide.
Coloring might appear to be an old concept, something from childhood. But now, the activity is being used by adults as a stress reliever and for relaxation purposes.
“The biggest point of positive feedback that we hear is, people tell us all the time how relaxing it is to color, how great it feels to just turn off your brain for a few minutes a day and do something that’s creative,” said Amanda Guest, social media manager for Dover Publications, a company that has been producing adult coloring books since 1970.
Guest said that Dover’s coloring books have appealed to a wide variety of audiences, including artists, trauma victims, businesspeople, the elderly, parents and even students.
“We’re starting to hear more and more from college students that are focusing on coloring during finals time because it’s a very stressful time of year,” she said. “Coloring kind of helps you take a quick, little mental break and recharge your energy.”
Savage, an assistant professor in arts administration, education and policy, said college students can benefit by using these coloring books as way to separate themselves from the world of wires and headphones.
“I think it would certainly be a great way to sort of check out of computers and laptops and your iPhone or smartphone,” she said. “To just kind of walk away from that and spend time in your own head, kind of doing something that calms your mind, would be really beneficial.”
Savage attributes the coloring book trend to a growth in other expressions of creativity that have also been gaining popularity, correlated with a rise in technology usage.
“I think people are looking for creative outlets and that’s evident in the rise of like wine and paint parties, Clay Café or places where you go and paint ceramics,” Savage said. “People come together in groups or go on their own and make something creative in a space like that.”
Savage said there is a need for students to be in touch with their creative side in order to make them more marketable to potential employers.
“We’re seeing and hearing more and more about companies saying, ‘We need out-of-the-box thinkers. We need people who can look at this problem in a way that we’re not looking at it,’” Savage said. “Especially if you’re dealing with very analytical, linear-brained people, you need those creative thinkers who are able to look beyond that and think about: ‘What if?’”