50 Shades Of Cre­ativ­ity

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch - - TRENDSPOTTING - By Shikha Ku­mar

As In­dian-made adult colour­ing books hit the shelves, grown-ups are dis­cov­er­ing the ele­men­tary and ther­a­peu­tic joys of putting (colour) pen­cil to pa­per

LATE LAST YEAR, Chen­naibased mar­ket re­searcher Subadra Kalya­nara­man was at a book­store in Sin­ga­pore when she chanced upon a sur­prise: an aisle de­voted to colour­ing books for grown-ups. The idea of a book with in­tri­cate de­signs meant to be coloured in by stead­ier hands than kids was al­ready pop­u­lar with her friends in In­dia. They even had favourites, Scot­tish il­lus­tra­tor Jo­hanna Bas­ford’s books were near the top of their lists. “Colour­ing was get­ting pop­u­lar in In­dia and see­ing the va­ri­ety in Sin­ga­pore made me re­alise that we didn’t have many lo­cal books in the genre,” re­calls Kalya­nara­man.

In Fe­bru­ary, she re­leased Shakun­tala And Her Magic Box, a Mad­hubani-themed colour­ing book. It fea­tures 16 art­works and two pages of story pan­els, writ­ten by her hus­band and in­spired by a Korean colour­ing book. “It’s the tale of a girl who loves mu­sic, and the gramo­phone is her mu­sic box,” says Kalya­nara­man. “She sits by the river and sings amidst na­ture; there are il­lus­tra­tions of trees, birds and fishes.”

From a print run of 150 copies, her book is now fast sell­ing on Ama­zon. Her Twit­ter time­line dis­plays stun­ning con­tri­bu­tions of com­pleted art­work from colourists who use the pull-out pages of her book to ex­press their cre­ativ­ity. “Peo­ple have gone crazy with the colours. Some have done shad­ing, oth­ers have used gel pens,” she says.

The pic­tures re­flect a trend that has cap­tured the imag­i­na­tions, and hands, of much of ur­ban In­dia in the last year. They play on the sim­ple, well-re­mem- bered joy of fill­ing an illustration with colour. In In­dia, the books are typ­i­cally filled with il­lus­tra­tions of man­dalas (a cir­cu­lar sym­bol rep­re­sent­ing the uni­verse), myth­i­cal crea­tures, flora and fauna, and other ab­stract pat­terns, that hold prom­ises of colour-fu­elled fan­tasies. The Land­mark chain of book­stores, which stocks al­most 50 home­grown and in­ter­na­tional ti­tles in the genre, has sold over

1,000 books since Fe­bru­ary.

MAK­ING ART

The grown-up’s fas­ci­na­tion for the books can be traced back to 2013, when Bas­ford pub­lished the best­selling

Se­cret Gar­den: An Inky Trea­sure Hunt and Colour­ing Book. The con­cept

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