I have always been a fan of colouring books. As a child I loved the bumper activity pad my mum would buy for me to take on holiday, annually making the mistake of trying to colour it in on the journey and ending up feeling car sick with wonky colouring-in. I loved the slightly rough paper and quality of the black outlines. My absolute favourites were the pages you could 'paint' with water to make magically fill with colour.
Having a child of my own increased my love of colouring. He wasn't that into it, so I cheerfully coloured in all those packs that they give children in restaurants these days (where were they in my day). It led me to think about a tablecloth you could colour in, which in turn led to a poster and finally the first wallpaper design in our range, I Spy.
When I designed I-Spy it was for fun and it took months. I crammed all my favourite images from my childhood into it. I was heavily inspired by toys that I'd owned, often made by Galt. While writing this blog post, I looked up 'Galt Toys' to refresh my memory and discovered that many of them were designed by Ken Garland. I can't believe I didn't know that. How could I have missed him? He was probably the first graphic designer that I came across in my young life and unwittingly he has been a huge influence ever since. I'm sure I'm not alone, there must be numerous people like me, the children of baby boomers, keen to adopt modernist approaches to child development and design, who grew up playing with Galt Toys. I spent this morning in bed, uncovering a crowd of world class designers who had designed my toys. My husband remarked "God, you were spoilt!". I was!
Back to the wallpaper. I set myself a goal to make all the shapes using squares, circles, rectangles and triangles with a sprinkle of artistic licence for good measure. I kept the colour to a minimum using red and blue for one colour way and grey and yellow for the other. I wanted the wallpaper to look good even if it wasn't coloured in.
I imagined lying in bed searching for all the objects I could remember drawing. I pictured children colouring it in when they were meant to be asleep. They'd start with the area around their bed, gradually colouring further and further away as they became braver, until the whole room was filled in.
When it came to making the design into a real wallpaper and putting it into repeat, I used about a quarter of all the objects I'd drawn. This year we decided to make a colouring book using my leftover drawings so that they didn't go to waste. We printed it on recycled paper to recreate that vintage feel (this means it's best to use pencils or crayons to colour it in. Old School). Just like Galt Toys, at Playroom, we're passionate about developing creativity, so our colouring book isn't too prescriptive, it's not gender specific and there are pages of just pattern and plenty of opportunity to add your own details.
I'm really pleased with it. For me it's full of promise, it's captured everything in one place and when we decide to make toys or a crockery range, I'll know just where to look for inspiration. I hope you like it too.