Mind the lines and draw on art therapy in The Mindfulness Colouring Book

Emma Farrarons, author of the Mindfulness Colouring Book at work.
Emma Farrarons, author of the Mindfulness Colouring Book
French illustrator Emma Farrarons, whose The Mindfulness Colouring Book: Anti-stress art therapy for busy people, tops the Australian independent bestseller list. Photo: bitofnews.com

July 11, 2015

Peter Barrett

Meet Emma Farrarons, 32, the best-selling author who hasn’t written a word. (Well, almost.)

The French illustrator’s first “literary” effort, The Mindfulness Colouring Book: Anti-stress art therapy for busy people, sits on top of the Australian independent bestseller list.

Yet aside from the book’s title, a one-page introduction and a brief thank you note on the last page, it contains no text.

Instead, the pocket-sized book is filled with pages of black and white line drawings, designed to offer stressed-out adults much-needed colouring-in therapy.

“As a visual artist, it feels amazing to have a bestseller where there are no words,” says Farrarons, who is on a lunch break from her day job as a children’s picture book designer in London. “It just goes to show that images are so powerful. And I think what maybe makes a book without images so powerful is that it can reach to any country or any culture because there are no words. There’s no text or story; it can be interpreted however you want.”

And nothing is lost in translation when it comes to adult colouring-in book sales.

A fad that emerged just before last Christmas, Readings has at least 15 titles in stock. Johanna Basford’s The Secret Garden and The Enchanted Forest are among the top sellers.

Readings’ head of marketing, Emily Harms, says Farrarons’ offering ticks several boxes. Particularly its slightly highbrow, self-help-sounding title.

“[It] has this guilt-free pleasure for adults and they’re less embarrassed, probably, buying it,” Harms says. “But it’s also about eliminating stress and I think it’s a nice, easy present to give people, as well. It’s a good price point, it’s a good [pocket] size, it’s a good gift.”

Farrarons’ British publisher, Boxtree, reports 180,000 copies have been distributed to bookstores and 100,000 of those have been sent to Australia.

So it’s no surprise the illustrator is busy working on her follow-up, the imaginatively titled More Mindfulness Colouring: More anti-stress art therapy for busy people, which is due for release this year.

“For this one, I’ve been doing lots of research on leaves at Kew Gardens,” Farrarons says, referring to the large botanic gardens in London.

She says she’s been particularly enamoured by the tropical section.

“I wonder if you might find some Australian plants in there?”

Other objects that have caught the illustrator’s eye include pineapples and artichokes from the local fruit shop and a woven egg basket spied on a recent trip back to her birth country, the Philippines.

Ultimately, her success comes back to doodling.

“Everybody’s a doodler, naturally. It comes out when you’re really not thinking, when you’re on the telephone or at a lecture or at a meeting … and that’s where the best ideas come from.”

This story was originally published in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Read more about the book and its author on Emma Farrarons’ website, here.

See how people have taken to the book on Instagram by following #mindfulnesscolouringbook, here.