How Adult Coloring Books Can Bring Out the Artist in You

Coloring books for adults are an intriguing new hobby, breaking into the mainstream like the young-adult fiction boom before them. 

Coloring books for adults are an intriguing new hobby, breaking into the mainstream like the young-adult fiction boom before them. Profiled by The New York Times and NPR, these aren't the coloring books of your youth.


The intricate pen and ink sketches inside books like Lost Ocean beg for color and allow for an exciting amount of artistic freedom. As the colorist, you can create a minimalistic, monochromatic work or a baroque drawing overflowing with lush vibrancy: How much and what kinds of color are entirely up to you. Adult coloring books are the choose-your-own-adventure novels of the drawing world.

Besides the fun of coloring, these adult books are said to have additional benefits. In scientific trials, adults who colored also experienced sensations of calm and were better able to focus after coloring. The effects are similar to meditation, but involve a task that, ironically, is easier than concentrating on doing nothing. Here are five reasons to join the adult coloring book trend.

And no doubt publishers love them. The author of Lost Ocean, Johanna Basford, has made her publisher very happy as the company struggles to keep up with demand for the book. So everyone is happy and all it took was some easy coloring. Well, that might be the problem.

Creating something we call art doesn't mean producing a sellable piece of work. It's about experiencing the joys and challenges of creation and elevating the soul to new heights.

If you've been anywhere near professional art circles, the crowd never tires of lamenting the dearth of arts funding in the U.S. compared to Europe. Anecdotally, I first noticed this in the Prince George's County shopping mall in Maryland. After some years abroad, I relocated to Washington, D.C., for grad school and in the shopping mall were enormous murals of children's drawings.

This is where I assure you I have nothing against children's art except when it comes at the expense of adult art. Because as the coloring books prove, art isn't just for kids. It's for adults too. And it's condescending toward children to teach them the importance of drawing, sculpting, painting, etc., only to discourage them from being artists themselves as they age and mature.

And this, I'm afraid, is just what adult coloring books do. They tell you that you can't create anything from scratch and must, ahem, color inside the lines. In every positive review of adult coloring books, there's a small child in an adult body who says, "Adult coloring books are perfect for me because I'm not artistically inclined." Well, if George W. Bush can oil paint, you can learn to draw too.

Creating something we call art doesn't mean producing a sellable piece of work. It's about experiencing the joys and challenges of creation and elevating the soul to new heights. It's more than the sugary success of coloring in someone else's drawing, no matter how impressive the original drawing is. If you enjoy adult coloring books, more power to you. We all need down time and a way to relax. But if you're judging yourself as incapable of something greater, have a glass of wine (for courage) and get thee to a drawing class.

Adult coloring books are like sex: It might be good for you physically, but it might demean the intimate nature of the activity, as Slavoj Zizek explains.

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
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A map of America’s most famous – and infamous

The 'People Map of the United States' zooms in on America's obsession with celebrity

Image: The Pudding
Strange Maps
  • Replace city names with those of their most famous residents
  • And you get a peculiar map of America's obsession with celebrity
  • If you seek fame, become an actor, musician or athlete rather than a politician, entrepreneur or scientist

Chicagoland is Obamaland

Image: The Pudding

Chicagoland's celebrity constellation: dominated by Barack, but with plenty of room for the Belushis, Brandos and Capones of this world.

Seen from among the satellites, this map of the United States is populated by a remarkably diverse bunch of athletes, entertainers, entrepreneurs and other persons of repute (and disrepute).

The multitalented Dwayne Johnson, boxing legend Muhammad Ali and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs dominate the West Coast. Right down the middle, we find actors Chris Pratt and Jason Momoa, singer Elvis Presley and basketball player Shaquille O'Neal. The East Coast crew include wrestler John Cena, whistle-blower Edward Snowden, mass murderer Ted Bundy… and Dwayne Johnson, again.

The Rock pops up in both Hayward, CA and Southwest Ranches, FL, but he's not the only one to appear twice on the map. Wild West legend Wyatt Earp makes an appearance in both Deadwood, SD and Dodge City, KS.

How is that? This 'People's Map of the United States' replaces the names of cities with those of "their most Wikipedia'ed resident: people born in, lived in, or connected to a place."

‘Cincinnati, Birthplace of Charles Manson'

Image: The Pudding

Keys to the city, or lock 'em up and throw away the key? A city's most famous sons and daughters of a city aren't always the most favoured ones.

That definition allows people to appear in more than one locality. Dwayne Johnson was born in Hayward, has one of his houses in Southwest Ranches, and is famous enough to be the 'most Wikipedia'ed resident' for both localities.

Wyatt Earp was born in Monmouth, IL, but his reputation is closely associated with both Deadwood and Dodge City – although he's most famous for the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which took place in Tombstone, AZ. And yes, if you zoom in on that town in southern Arizona, there's Mr Earp again.

The data for this map was collected via the Wikipedia API (application programming interface) from the English-language Wikipedia for the period from July 2015 to May 2019.

The thousands of 'Notable People' sections in Wikipedia entries for cities and other places in the U.S. were scrubbed for the person with the most pageviews. No distinction was made between places of birth, residence or death. As the developers note, "people can 'be from' multiple places".

Pageviews are an impartial indicator of interest – it doesn't matter whether your claim to fame is horrific or honorific. As a result, this map provides a non-judgmental overview of America's obsession with celebrity.

Royals and (other) mortals

Image: The Pudding

There's also a UK version of the People Map – filled with last names like Neeson, Sheeran, Darwin and Churchill – and a few first names of monarchs.

Celebrity, it is often argued, is our age's version of the Greek pantheon, populated by dozens of major gods and thousands of minor ones, each an example of behaviours to emulate or avoid. This constellation of stars, famous and infamous, is more than a map of names. It's a window into America's soul.

But don't let that put you off. Zooming in on the map is entertaining enough: celebrities floating around in the ether are suddenly tied down to a pedestrian level, and to real geography. And it's fun to see the famous and the infamous rub shoulders, as it were.

Barack Obama owns Chicago, but the suburbs to the west of the city are dotted with a panoply of personalities, ranging from the criminal (Al Capone, Cicero) and the musical (John Prine, Maywood) to figures literary (Jonathan Franzen, Western Springs) and painterly (Ivan Albright, Warrenville), actorial (Harrison Ford, Park Ridge) and political (Eugene V. Debs, Elmhurst).

Freaks and angels

Image: Dorothy

The People Map of the U.S. was inspired by the U.S.A. Song Map, substituting song titles for place names.

It would be interesting to compare 'the most Wikipedia'ed' sons and daughters of America's cities with the ones advertised at the city limits. When you're entering Aberdeen, WA, a sign invites you to 'come as you are', in homage to its most famous son, Kurt Cobain. It's a safe bet that Indian Hill, OH will make sure you know Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, was one of theirs. But it's highly unlikely that Cincinnati, a bit further south, will make any noise about Charles Manson, local boy done bad.

Inevitably, the map also reveals some bitterly ironic neighbours, such as Ishi, the last of the Yahi tribe, captured near Oroville, CA. He died in 1916 as "the last wild Indian in North America". The most 'pageviewed' resident of nearby Colusa, CA is Byron de la Beckwith, Jr., the white supremacist convicted for the murder of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers.

As a sampling of America's interests, this map teaches that those aiming for fame would do better to become actors, musicians or athletes rather than politicians, entrepreneurs or scientists. But also that celebrity is not limited to the big city lights of LA or New York. Even in deepest Dakota or flattest Kansas, the footlights of fame will find you. Whether that's good or bad? The pageviews don't judge...

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Thumbs up? Map shows Europe’s hitchhiking landscape

Average waiting time for hitchhikers in Ireland: Less than 30 minutes. In southern Spain: More than 90 minutes.

Image: Abel Suyok
Strange Maps
  • A popular means of transportation from the 1920s to the 1980s, hitchhiking has since fallen in disrepute.
  • However, as this map shows, thumbing a ride still occupies a thriving niche – if at great geographic variance.
  • In some countries and areas, you'll be off the street in no time. In other places, it's much harder to thumb your way from A to B.
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Michio Kaku: Genetic and digital immortality are within reach

Technology may soon grant us immortality, in a sense. Here's how.

Videos
  • Through the Connectome Project we may soon be able to map the pathways of the entire human brain, including memories, and create computer programs that evoke the person the digitization is stemmed from.
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  • With CRISPR technology we may soon be able to edit out errors that build up as we age, and extend the human lifespan.
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