Color Me Happy

RonnieCoatRack-WEBAbout a year and a half ago I saw what was happening with adult coloring books. What?? Adults–coloring?

Yep, I get it. We’ve been through a few squirrely years with recessions and wars and who know what else coming down the pike. I understand why someone would look for a little respite by filling in spaces with color and the satisfaction of completing something. I mean, we as freelance illustrators and writers never quite feel like we can put something down and say, hey—look what I did, I’m finished! Because there is always another client to contact, or another idea to figure out and another concept to decide whether it has legs—or not.

So I published a coloring book about a year and a half ago. And then another one, and another—and to date I have 13 books on the market, both my own and books I have done with a publisher–plus a few other coordinating products. Yeah, it’s been a busy year and a half.

Funny, over the course of my career as an illustrator, I’ve had very little contact with the end consumer of my products. My day to day contact is usually an Art Director or Licensing Manager of a manufacturer of greeting cards, rugs, decorative flags and the like. If I ever see someone actually buy a product with my art on it, it would be a complete fluke—like running into my fifth grade teacher at the corner bar.

And seeing Sister Cornelius nursing a Tequila Sunrise is a bit more than I can take.

Once I was trolling the aisles of Michael’s Crafts and saw a woman pull one of my sticker sheets off a peg in the scrapbook section. I couldn’t decide if saying something to her would frighten her away or make her feel strange if she suddenly decided that she didn’t like those particular bunnies and there would be that awkward moment when she slipped it back on the peg. Plus I had a bad case of the “shy’s”. I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but every once in a while I have one of those moments when I lose my confidence and want to hide behind the nearest coat rack. And frankly, there are not enough coat racks in the world. But I got over it and said, “I know this might sound weird, but I am the artist who designed those stickers and I am so please that you picked them out.” There was a momentary silence while I tried to conjure up a trap door to fall into (I watched a lot of Road Runner cartoons as a child) and then she looked at me and said, “Cute.” And tossed them into her cart.

Now I know how Jennifer Lopez feels when she goes out in public.

But the coloring books. Now that is different. I am talking every day with the actual people who buy them–not all of them, of course but our Coloring Café Facebook group is very active and we get emails all the time from customers who say the nicest things about my books and what they have meant to them and the people in their lives. I also hear what they would like to see.

“You seem to love cats, can you draw more dogs?”

“What about an all flowers (or campers, or girls, or cupcakes, or wildlife) book?”

“When are you coming to Australia?”

And it is awesome. Oh, sure, there are a few Amazon reviews that sting a bit. Like, for instance, the one that said, “That girl can’t draw” but for the most part it’s an amazing exchange of ideas and celebration and a shared passion that so far I have only had with my fellow artist friends—not with “strangers”. I provide the framework and they work their magic. With each stroke of the colored pencil or swipe of a marker, the page slowly transitions from my design to their amazing masterpiece. And I am happy to hand it over.

And if I ever see someone actually buy one of my coloring books in a store? I will probably run up and hug them—while they search for the nearest coat rack.

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