We’ve long been fans of colouring books, and the satisfaction that comes from picking up our pencils and watercolours, The Liberty Colouring Book is no exception – combining a love of getting creative, with some of the most stunning prints made by Liberty throughout its history. We’ve spoken to editor Zoe Bohm on working with the iconic company, and how she managed to choose from the 40,000 prints in their archive.
How did the project come about?
I’d been extremely keen to work with the Liberty team on a book project for some time and as we witnessed the huge appetite for colouring books it seemed the perfect fit. Happily the Liberty team were keen to pursue the collaboration with Penguin and we’re all delighted with the result. We think will make the perfect Christmas gift for any fan of Liberty’s iconic prints and anybody who has enjoyed the benefits of colouring as a means of relaxing, becoming more creative and practising mindfulness.
What is it about the Liberty print that works so well as a colouring book?
I think there are two things that make this book work so well. The first is that while we want readers to feel relaxed, creative and mindful while colouring in the designs, we’re also extremely excited that this collaboration breaks the colouring book trend out beyond its association with mindfulness and relaxation. The Liberty Colouring Book will appeal to those interested in fashion and textiles and anybody who loves Liberty prints and is already enjoying the other creative processes associated with the designs, like sewing and arts and crafts.
The second reason is that the colouring process is completely transformative and integral to making the prints as beautiful as they are: the Liberty Art Fabrics team produces each print in a variety of colourways for each collection and is painstaking in their choices to create the perfect effect. This book is the first time the prints have been made available as black and white outlines making it a hugely exciting opportunity for anybody who has ever dreamed of putting their own mark on these iconic and beautiful designs. This is every Liberty fan’s opportunity to get creative and create their personal, totally unique collection of prints.
How many prints are in the book and how did you go about whittling it down?
We’ve chosen to include 43 prints in the book. As this is a very small sample of the 40,000 prints housed in the Liberty archive we wanted to make sure it was representative of the work of the Liberty fabrics team over the company’s rich history. We’ve included classic prints from the 1930s like the hugely popular Betsy print from the Flowers of Liberty collection right up to prints designed over the last few years as part of Liberty’s incredible collaborations with artists, designers and brands.
The prints we’ve chosen also showcase the wealth of sources the Liberty design team draws on when creating their designs. My personal favourites include Gustav and Otto which was created after a team trip to Vienna, Jess and Jean which was inspired by Liberty’s beauty hall and drawn using make-up rather than pencils and paint, and Jenny’s Fan which was part of the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland collection for Spring/Summer 2015.
Which prints do you think work the best and why?
I think different styles will appeal to different people. Some will relish the challenge of completing the more intricate paisley and floral designs like Busy Issie and Kitty Grace, while others will enjoy colouring less detailed designs like Juniper or Ellie Ruth. We were particularly keen to include a variety of styles that would appeal to a wide range of readers. My personal favourite is Caesar.
What is the appeal of the Liberty print for you?
I’ve always loved Liberty prints and could easily lose myself for hours in the store looking at the fabrics. While working with the Liberty design team on this project I was fascinated to discover more about the extensive research and design process that goes in to each print. I hope we’ve succeeded in giving readers some insight into this process by including a short caption alongside each print that provides some background information about the way each print was created.
What made you choose to make the book pocket-sized?
We wanted to create something stylish and beautiful that would showcase the prints in the best way possible. Unlike other colouring books (where the illustrations are created specifically for the book) we were working with existing, repeating patterns which might not lend themselves to being displayed in a larger format. The small, luxurious format we chose offers something slightly different in the incredibly crowded colouring books market and ensures the prints aren’t displayed in a way that’s too overwhelming. I like to think of each spread as a fabric swatch you might find in a designer’s sample book.
The Liberty Colouring Book (Viking) is now available.