Johanna Basford is the woman responsible for a movement currently taking over the art world: adult coloring. Before her book, Secret Garden, 鈥渃oloring for adults鈥 wasn鈥檛 officially a genre. It was just something parents did after their kids went to bed. Since the release of Secret Garden three years ago, the coloring book market isn鈥檛 just booming, it鈥檚 straight-up exploding. With proven stress-relieving and creativity-boosting effects, it鈥檚 the perfect low-key creative outlet for the busy, the timid and everyone in between.

We recently had a chance to chat with the woman behind the movement about how she stays creative, what her day-to-day looks like and, obvs, what her favorite coloring medium is. Her answer for that might surprise you.


B+C: What music do you like to listen to when you鈥檙e working?

I don鈥檛 often listen to music while I鈥檓 drawing, as I find the beat affects the way I draw. A very fast dance track has me drawing frantically and I can鈥檛 slow down to include all the usual inky details, while punk or rock can make trying to draw smooth lines a nightmare! I prefer listening to spoken word radio (BBC Radio 4 in the UK is great, lots of documentaries, plays and news) or podcasts and audio books are also good.

B+C:What goes on during a normal work day for you?

I tackle all my admin on a Thursday so that I can focus on creative tasks the rest of the time. I find it hard to switch between emails and drawing; they use different bits of the brain! On a drawing day I get to my desk around 9am, pick up my pens and pencils and start work. I stop around noon to have lunch with my toddler (we have a nanny who takes care of her in our home while I鈥檓 working, which is nice, but distracting!), then back to the drawing board.

I work best in the morning, so I get as much done as possible before lunch. After lunch, I do a few digital creative tasks, then always step outside and have a walk. I think I need the fresh air and daylight to stop me from getting into a post-lunch slump! I鈥檒l create drawings and tweak artwork until around 5PM, when I stop work and switch to my mum duties! Evenings are spent checking in on social media, tidying the studio and writing never-ending to-do lists!


B+C: What keeps you going after a long day of creating?

I actually really enjoy the creating part of my job, so seeing an image I had imagined come to life in ink on the paper is often the reward in itself. The struggle for me has always been admin! After a long day of answering emails, accounts or organizing, I think a good dose of 鈥渞eal life鈥 is always needed! Whether that鈥檚 baking cakes with my daughter, taking the dog for a long walk or meeting friends for dinner, I love to get out of the studio and leave my smartphone and laptop behind.

B+C: Okay, serious question time! What鈥檚 your favorite medium to color with?

I love black and white! There鈥檚 something so bold and graphic about it! I like to just add black embellishments to a drawing using a Staedtler fineliner pen and keep things super simple.

B+C: What are your thoughts on one day producing a digital coloring book?

Never say never, but for now, I prefer pens and pencils to pixels!

B+C: What have you been most inspired by lately?

The coloring gallery on my new website! It鈥檚 unbelievably inspiring to see so many beautiful creations uploaded by colorists all over the world. I never see the same picture twice; people always transform my black and white pictures into colorful compositions in a unique way that I find just breathtaking! It鈥檚 not every illustrator that gets the opportunity to collaborate with millions of people all around the world!


B+C: What advice would you give to someone aspiring to do fine art professionally?

Draw lots, share your work, don鈥檛 be too precious.

B+C: You were initially approached for a children鈥檚 coloring book and you pitched the idea of an adult coloring book. What was it that initially sparked the idea that this would work well for adults too?

I knew lots of adults that were 鈥渦nderground colorists,鈥 meaning they loved to color at home, after the kids have gone to bed. Most kept their creative pastime as a secret, mainly because they were often coloring their kid鈥檚 books! It鈥檚 hard to post a picture of a Disney princess on your Facebook page, no matter how beautifully it鈥檚 colored, without raising some eyebrows. With my books, I want to give adults really beautiful, sophisticated artwork that they can color and be proud of. It鈥檚 not kid鈥檚 play; it鈥檚 a creative art form that allows people to make beautiful works of art that they can be truly proud of.

B+C: How do you get yourself out of a creative rut?

Just keep drawing!

B+C: What鈥檚 next for you? Anything exciting in the pipeline?

I鈥檓 launching my new book, Johanna鈥檚 Christmas, in October. It鈥檚 a festive coloring book with lots of great holiday images. I鈥檝e also just teamed up with Canon to create four new coloring sheets that will be available for download [on Canon鈥檚 website]. Lastly, I鈥檓 working on a new book for 2017! That鈥檚 top secret for now though! ;)

Johanna鈥檚 coloring books can be found here. Her exclusive prints for Canon are available to PIXMA printer owners via the PIXMA cloud link through their app. Find more about that here!

What coloring book are you loving at the moment? Share with us on Twitter @BritandCo.

(Photos via Canon and Chris Andre)