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Rainbow-Hued Relaxation: Dallas Public Library Gets In On Adult Coloring Craze

Adult coloring books are sweeping the nation. Many say they help relieve stress and unlock their inner artist. The Friends of the Dallas Public Library caught onto the craze and put together a book of their own, hoping to raise a little money. 

Over a thousand coloring books later, sales are still going strong.

When you search Amazon’s best-selling books of 2015, five of the top 15 are adult coloring books. That proves it: Shading the petals of a black and white flower is a bona fide craze. So the Friends of the Dallas Public Library decided to get in on the action.

Executive Director Kate Park says she gets the appeal of putting crayon to paper.

“I think it’s because it gets back to what we did as children," Park says. "And it is very cathartic and it feels really good to be able to create something and there’s a sense of a project and a sense of completion.”

Getting In On The Craze

The Friends of the Dallas Public Library collaborated with the library’s Fine Arts Division to produce an adult coloring book. And this one has a little twist. The 20 black and white pages were designed by local artists.

Heather Lowe is manager of the Fine Arts Division. She says recruiting artists to participate was easy.

“Most of the work they do is very serious, it’s for exhibition so this is a little bit more fun and they get to feel like they’re supporting something they believe in too," says Lowe.

Credit Courtney Collins / KERA News
Heather Lowe and Kate Park with their in-progress color pages.

This isn’t your daughter’s coloring book, each page truly is a work of art. From the bold, geometric-patterned “Grids” submitted by Timothy Harding, to Nicole Marxen-Myers' drawing of a wistful woman in a flowered blouse entitled “Demure in Fleurs.”

Community Coloring Fun

Park organized a little coloring party one afternoon at the library featuring staff members and library patrons.

“It’s just a really affordable, very accessible expression of self and art," she says.

While this may not be a serious artistic exercise, there’s just something about coloring that appeals to a lot of people. From retirees to college students to folks like Ray Stansberry, a Fort Worth resident with a sales background.

“It can relieve some stress, get some tension away," he says. "So you can choose whatever color you prefer and just color away!”

An opinion hundreds of North Texans must share, because, Park says: “We’ve sold close to 1,500 coloring books in less than a month.”

Selling Like Hot Cakes

It’s hard to say exactly why Dallas Library coloring book has caught on the way it has. Maybe it’s because the pages were designed by artists or perhaps people want to support the library. Or maybe, Heather Lowe says, folks in this digital world, crave some analog.

“It’s simple, you pick up crayons and, it’s something that you can do, it’s not mediated by some kind of technology and I think it feels very real to people," she says.

Infomercials for adult coloring books are everywhere. See below.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.