The History and Evolution of Adult Coloring Pages

The History and Evolution of Adult Coloring Pages


Coloring isn't just for kids anymore. The adult coloring book trend has swept the globe, but this phenomenon isn't as modern as you might think. The history of coloring pages traces back centuries, intertwining with educational developments and cultural shifts, leading us to the intricate and diverse coloring books we see today.

The Early Beginnings

The Origins of Coloring Books

The story of coloring books begins in the educational sphere. Johann Amos Comenius's 1658 encyclopedia, "Orbis Pictus," is one of the earliest known examples. Its pages, filled with illustrations to be colored, aimed to teach children about the world in an engaging way.

Transition to Entertainment

Fast forward to the 19th century, coloring books began to entertain rather than just educate. The 1880s saw British company McLoughlin Brothers pivot the focus towards popular characters from literature and fairy tales, marking a significant shift in the purpose and audience of coloring books.

Rise of Adult Coloring Books

The 1960s and 70s: A New Market for Adults

In the 1960s and 70s, adult coloring books emerged as a novel concept, focusing on stress relief and self-care. This shift catered to an adult audience, seeking relaxation through art. Pioneering this movement was "The Executive Coloring Book" (1961), which satirically illustrated corporate life. Similarly, "The Coloring Book" by Dover Publications (1963) offered intricate geometric designs, appealing to adults' desire for a more sophisticated coloring experience.

Themes and Styles in Adult Coloring Books

Adult coloring books started embracing a variety of themes. Mandalas, with their complex, symmetrical patterns, became particularly popular, known for their stress-relieving qualities. Nature scenes, featuring detailed depictions of flora and fauna, catered to those seeking a realistic and challenging coloring experience.

The Modern Era of Coloring Books

The 21st Century Resurgence

The 21st century has seen a remarkable resurgence in the popularity of coloring books, especially among adults. This renewed interest is largely attributed to social media's influence, the growing emphasis on mindfulness, and the availability of high-quality coloring materials. Adult coloring books have become synonymous with therapeutic benefits, offering a creative escape and a way to de-stress and focus on the present moment.

Recent Trends and Digital Coloring

In recent years, adult coloring books have expanded beyond traditional paper and pencil. Digital coloring apps and websites have emerged, allowing users to indulge in this calming activity on-the-go. Best-selling themes in the modern era include elaborate animal illustrations, nature scenes, and mandalas, each offering a unique coloring experience that caters to personal preferences and artistic inclinations.

Related: Adult Coloring Pages Printable Collection


In conclusion, adult coloring pages have come a long way from their educational origins, evolving into a form of stress relief, artistic expression, and mindfulness practice. Whether through traditional books or digital platforms, they continue to provide a creative and therapeutic outlet for adults around the world.