A MEDITATIVE GIFT FOR THOSE WHO LOSE THEIR SHIT EVERY HOLIDAY
WNW Member Justin Poulter teamed up with National Geographic this fall for a new coloring book, fittingly titled Magnificent Ocean. Justin tells us a bit about how the project came together, why coloring books are in line with the meditative practice of mindfulness, and whether illustrating a coloring book is as relaxing as coloring one in.
If you're stumped on what to buy that special someone who can't keep their shit together during the holiday season, head here to gift them Poulter's coloring book that's as relaxing as it is educational.
Tell us about your creative background. Who is Justin Poulter and how did he get here?
I am an illustrator from Cape Town, SA now based in London, UK. I've been freelancing since early 2014. Prior to that, I worked at three studios: ILOVEDUST, Am I Collective and briefly at Muti.
How did you and National Geographic come to partner up and create the Magnificent Ocean Coloring Book?
My awesome agent Kat at Snyder NY put me together with the art director who I worked with from Nat Geo. They’re old friends connected through the D.C Riot Girrrl scene and a few well-known bands from that time. I was lucky enough to meet with them both while I was over in New York earlier this year.
What’s the creative process of illustrating a coloring book? What kind of research went into outlining these oceanic worlds?
Research was a big part of this. Coming up with ideas for sixty pages was quite a challenge but learning about unusual sea creatures kept me inspired. Nat Geo was kind enough to send me a bunch of books which was a great help! I also watched a lot of documentaries. I'm sure also growing up by and having a love for the sea was a beneficial factor.
There’s something universally relaxing about sitting down with a coloring book. Why do you think that is?
It’s a very meditative process. The simplicity of the task and the satisfaction of completing it is very much in line with the practice of mindfulness. I also think it may be that it makes you feel like a kid again without a worry in the world.
Was creating one relaxing as well? Or did you take one for the team?
Ha! In the beginning, the scale of the project was pretty stressful. But then once I really got going on it, the process streamlined and I did find it quite relaxing and fun. Would definitely do it again!
Are there certain creative steps an artist takes to build up a coloring book’s meditative potential? Or is that just natural to the medium?
In some ways I had to rethink how I would draw something so it would be more fun to color in. Where I would usually taper a line out, I realised I should connect it to create a cell to colour in. The art directors feedback helped me figure this out and with this in mind the process became really natural and enjoyable.
Colored pencils, crayons or markers?
I would go for Copic markers. They’re a bit pricey but create some beautiful tones when blended. Nothing wrong with classic coloured pencils though! If you wanna borrow mine make sure to KEEP THE COLORS IN THE RIGHT ORDER though.
What’s next for you?
I am busy working on a mural project in collaboration with Alex Fowkes which I am very excited about. I also have some skateboard graphics on the go, coming out next year sometime. A few other things in the pipeline including some self-initiated projects.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just a word of thanks to my agents at Snyder NY and JSR London. Also a huge thanks to the clients and agencies I’m proud to have collaborated with over my first year and a bit of being based in London.