Art by Duke Riley in "Outside the Lines" (all images by the author and Hrag Vartanian for Hyperallergic)

Art by Duke Riley in “Outside the Lines” (all images by the author and Hrag Vartanian for Hyperallergic)

For anyone soothed by the careful filling in of white space or enthused by wrecking it all with random slashes of color and unconventional hues, there’s been a recent influx of coloring books created by artists.


Last month, Perigree released Outside the Lines: An Artists’ Coloring Book For Giant Imaginations created by Souris Hong-Porretta with over 100 black-lined drawings ready to be enriched or defaced by artists including Duke Riley, Logan Hicks, Gary Baseman, Koichiro Takagi, Ohara Hale, Buff Monster, Exene Cervenka, and then some resurrected work by artists like Keith Haring. Although the creator states that the inspiration came from her daughter Lulu, who “has dozens of coloring books from all over the world, yet she kept going back to her Moebius and Andy Warhol books,” it seems like something that would find more of an adult audience (along with visually precocious children). There’s an awesome tableau by Duke Riley where electric eels sporting harpoons encircle a strange scene where a sailor lost at sea is paying an octopus for a tattoo, done with an electric eel dipped in ink, of course. Then there’s a girl riding a giraffe tearing through a spacey field of flowers and stars by Jen Corace, and a strange pizza monster dog by Ohara Hale. It’s all sort of freaky stuff, and seems begging for vibrant colors.

A detail of Buff Monster's contribution to "Outside the Line"

A detail of Buff Monster’s contribution to “Outside the Line”

Then there’s Christian’s Heroes Coloring Book, with a dour Karl Lagerfeld frowning on its primary-colored cover. The coloring book was offered during the Small Wonder exhibition this summer at Ground Floor Gallery in Park Slope.

It was created by Christian,  the “world’s preeminent Sparkle Artist,” who made the book to “honor people that have been an inspiration in my life,” and he’s even set up a pop up coloring station in Chelsea this year.  Outlines of the faces of celebrities like David Bowie, Bjork, Andy Warhol, Dolly Parton, Elton John, and Oprah hover above borderline self-help quotes like Tina Turner’s “You take your problems to a god, but what you really need is for the god to take you to the inside of you,” or Lady Gaga’s “A record deal doesn’t make you an artist; you make yourself an artist.” There are also puzzles where you can help Bjork with a word find and get Andy Warhol through a maze to money. Because that’s what heroes do.

Christian's Heroes

David Bowie & Dolly Parton in “Christian’s Heroes”

But these are just a couple of options for those who want to relax or exercise their grasp of shades with an artist-designed coloring book. There’s also the ongoing Color Ink Book where you can fill in the black and white drawings by underground, street art, or graphics arts artists, which has just made it to volume 20. and Patrick Hruby also makes stunning coloring books like Natural Wonders which has Charley Harper-esque landscapes. However, while there do seem to suddenly be more of them, artist-designed coloring books aren’t anything new. After all, Andy Warhol made one back in 1961 (perhaps inspiration for Christian’s Heroes?), and there’s something to be said for those vapid lines of coloring books being a springboard for many young creatives who ventures outside the lines. But it’s awesome to have contemporary artists trying to hand at offering a drawing for experimenting with color.

The Warhol page in "Christian's Heroes Coloring Book"

The Warhol page in “Christian’s Heroes Coloring Book”

Outside the Lines: An Artists’ Coloring Book for Giant Imaginations created by Souris Hong-Porretta is available from Perigree. Downloadable pages from Christian’s Heroes Coloring Book are available on

Allison C. Meier is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Oklahoma, she has been covering visual culture and overlooked history for print and online media since 2006. She moonlights...