The Joy of Adult Coloring Books


Events are high-pressure experiences, even on their best days. I’ve found an excellent way to handle the stress of our industry and enrich my creativity at the same time: adult coloring books.

Adult coloring books are just what they sound like: coloring books that grown-ups might enjoy. For $10-$15 plus the costs of crayons, you can immerse yourself into page after page of abstract shapes and images such as gardens, forests, and beetles. And a lot of adults like them. Titles such as Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt & Coloring Book and Enchanted Forest have become Amazon best sellers, and their popularity has captured the attention of news media such as CNN.

Adult coloring books give you a visually stimulating way to relax, like crosswords or Sudoku puzzles but with pictures to engage you instead of words.  In a recent article for The Atlantic, author Julie Beck extols the virtues of adult coloring books. As she writes, “Coloring offers that relief and mindfulness without the paralysis that a blank page can cause.” But adult coloring books are more than stress relievers. They can help you unleash creativity, too.

I first heard of adult coloring books when a friend posted one of her colored designs on Instagram. Immediately I thought, I want one of those! I loved coloring books as a kid. Coloring was one of my favorite activities, and a passion I shared with my friends. Adult coloring books looked like a cool way tap into that passion.

When my mom got me The Secret Garden for Christmas, I was hooked. True to their promise, adult coloring books have become a perfect way to unwind after a long day meeting the demands of managing an event. Like just about everyone I know, I’m a multi-tasker, and adult coloring books provide perfect ways to combine all the colors of a Crayola box into my own creations while I watch Netflix.

But there’s something else going on when you color a mandala or a forest: you start tapping into your creativity. Why not make pine trees red and the sky yellow just like children love to do when you leave them alone to experiment and explore with a box of crayons?

The structured approach of an adult coloring book is especially appealing to anyone in the events industry. Adult coloring books give you a defined parameter to work around, just as events can impose boundaries in ways such as the dimensions of an event space. I think getting lost in an adult coloring book is perfect preparation for figuring out how to make the most of an event. You might not be able to change the dimensions of a space, but you can get creative with the layout and environmental branding.

Adult coloring books can provide a social experience, too. I’ve heard of bookstores hosting adult coloring book parties, as well adults doing so informally. In the right event setting, I could easily see them being used as a creative exercise, such as during a break during an event (“unwind and color instead of checking your email on break”).

Our interest in adult coloring books is as strong as ever. In addition to having a nostalgic appeal, I think they are popular because we live in a visual society. They tap into our affinity for visual expressions in a similar way that Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat do. Think of the nostalgia and visual appeal that vinyl record albums have.

January, for me, is a particularly time-consuming and challenging time, spent on the road managing some very immersive events, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Amid the plane flights and long hours working with clients and supervising event teams in hotel ballrooms, my 2016 is already a calmer and more creative — because I’ve got my adult coloring book waiting for me when the day is done.

How do you unwind?

For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to build your brand and inspire an audience through events and communications, please contact Brian Duffy by calling 630.427.4235 or by emailing


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