A Brief History of Coloring: How the Craze Came to Be!

The adult coloring "trend" caught fire in 2015 with an estimated 12 million adult coloring books sold in the United States. There are coloring books for every niche and interest, even drag queens and hipsters! This coloring book craze even prompted a global colored pencil shortage for a short period of time in 2016!

So, what caused this incredible adult coloring book boom? 

First let's examine the interesting origins of the coloring book, which all started back in 1612 when the poem Poly-Olbion by Michael Drayton was published. The poem cameprinted with a map engraved with fantastical creatures and it became quite fashionable to color in the map yourself. These outline books and others like it became very useful for artists of the 17th Century and taught people how to paint with watercolor.

And these books were all aimed at adults. 

But coloring books didn't rise in popularity until the mid 1800's when lithography was invented and books with detailed illustrations become possible to mass produce. This, along with the rise in early childhood education in the early 1900's, saw the rise in popularity of coloring books among children. 

Keen to influence children and advertise their products, companies started creating branded coloring books to advertise their products in a fun new way.

Companies like the National Lead Company, which made lead paints, created a number of painting books as part of their Dutch Boy campaign in the 1920s.  Also jumping on board was the Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation with their 1965 Coloring Book.  And the Post even reported on a coloring book being created for a Doctor to use as a diagnostic tool for psychological disorders.

And originally, watercolors were the coloring method of choice since wax crayons weren't invented until the 20th century! As the century progressed, coloring became synonymous with childhood. By the 1960's child coloring books became a major part of American life and the adult counterpart became more popular with satirical and dark versions. Similar to the books we've been seeing lately!

And for those who say adult coloring is a trend or a flash in the pan...let me refer you to a 1962 New York Times trend piece all about the trend of adult coloring! Looks like the trend is going on nearly 50 years now and being used by everyone from pre-schoolers, to advertisers and even doctors!

So if you're interested in a custom coloring book that will showcase your products, services or story, click here!

Using Crayola crayons to color at wedding.

Using Crayola crayons to color at wedding.