Colouring is the new black

Inside the colouring hype among grownups.

Loh Wei Yang Ian

Published: 3 August 2015, 4:35 PM

I was wrong; it was not a pâtisserie’s high-tea menu. I was fooled by the exquisite white, black and gold facade of a colouring book for grownups by Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford. Hyped with raving reviews, Secret Gardens, An Inky Treasure Hunt is a bestseller on Amazon, and has been recently spotted in local book stores.

Even more remarkable than its number one spot at Kinokuniya’s online shop last week is the fact that five out of ten of the e-shop’s best-selling books were colouring books. Surprisingly, the colouring trend is taking root in this nation-state, where her people are more likely to cast this act as “lame” or time-wasting.


Would you prefer exploring The Enchanted Forest or The Secret Garden?


Singaporeans who frequent bookstores must be thrilled to witness these fresh prints rippling through the otherwise word-packed variety. Secret Garden is not the sole colouring book to capture the attention of grownups; following its success, the same illustrator’s second addition, Enchanted Forest, has championed into the bestsellers’ list. Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom is yet another popular choice among buyers.

These colouring books have been geared toward grownups that are caught in the hustle-bustle lifestyles that Singaporeans are all too familiar with. Often marketed as “anti-stress” or “relaxing”, they flaunt the therapeutic benefits of colouring; instead of aromatherapy, why not colour your troubles away?


With over two million copies sold worldwide, Bradford’s Secret Garden is one of the best-selling colouring books
Photo credit: NYTimes


Millie Marotta, the illustrator of best-seller Animal Kingdom
Photo credit:


Not everyone is born a van Gogh. It is daunting to be given a plain sheet of paper and asked to produce an art piece from scratch. Colouring books solve this perplexing issue; with outlines imprinted, all that is required of us is to fill in the colours. Easy peasy.

It is not about being childish or infantilising ourselves – colouring should not be exclusive to kids. Grownups should be entitled to pick up colour pencils, let lose their absurd creativity and literally add colours to their lives.

Perhaps this is reflective of the desire to unplug; disconnecting from the otherwise non-stop connection from the Internet. Overwhelmed by the trinity of “You-Tweet-Face” (YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook), colouring books offer a safe and fuss-free haven stripped off from the constant online interaction. Colouring grants us the solitude that we hardly come across, due to the depressing fact that we are rarely really alone.


Spoilt for (colouring) choice: Local bookstores have introduced a variety of colouring books


Like any other literary book, be prepared to spend about S$20 on one of these. If you are cash-strapped, do a quick search on web shops that offer the identical colouring book for a lower price, although it might not be in English.

If you have also regrettably trashed your childhood colour pencils – thinking that they would hardly come into any use in your adult life – be prepared to spend even more.

So, would you put your smartphones away, spend some time alone, and start colouring your grownup life?

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