Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford talks about her inspiration for her beautiful best selling colouring (coloring) books “Secret Garden,” “Enchanted Forest” and “Lost Ocean” Inky Quest & Colouring Books.
Watching the video below you will hear Johanna’s story from her own lips and get to hear the wonderful Scottish accent as well. She talks of her inspiration for the two coloring books so far being from her childhood. Her grandfather was the master gardener at a castle and lived in a home with a vast enchanted forest just behind it. How glorious!
I’m an illustrator and ink evangelist who prefers pens and pencils to pixels. I create intricate, hand drawn illustrations predominately, although not exclusively, in black and white.
My creativity is cultivated by a curious imagination and a delight in the fantastic. Much of my work has roots in the flora and fauna that surrounded me growing up on my parent’s fish farm in rural Scotland.
I graduated in 2005 from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee with my degree in Printed Textiles and a portfolio stuffed with monochrome silk screen prints and drawings. Following that, I set-up my little studio and began on my mission to vanquish the vector and champion the (wobbly) hand drawn line.
Every piece I create starts life as a simple pencil sketch, evolving into a rambling pen and ink drawing usually spanning several sheets of paper. I love the tactile nature of the materials I use and the joy of smudgy fingerprints. My delicate hand inked designs intend to charm and delight, inviting you to peer closer and discover the hidden intricacies.
For me, computer generated graphics can feel cold and soulless whereas hand drawing captures a sense of energy and character which no pixel can ever replicate.
“Secret Garden” is at the top of the Amazon Best Sellers list as well as the New York Times list. “Enchanted Forest” is not far behind. “Secret Garden” has sold 2,000,000 copies.. yes you read that right… two million copies.
In her interview below I love how she feels about her colouring books being a collaboration with the colorist (….that’s the cool word we grownups call ourselves when we color in coloring books now)
People often ask which of the two coloring books they should purchase. I advise them that if they love flowers then “Secret Garden” is the place to start.
“Tumble down the rabbit hole and find yourself in my inky black and white Wonderland… Johanna says…”My creativity is cultivated by a curious imagination and a delight in the fantastic. Much of my work has roots in the flora and fauna that surrounded me growing up on my parent’s fish farm in rural Scotland.”
The very detailed two page spreads of Johanna’s beautiful designs may well take you several days to over a week to complete depending on how much time you have to spend… thats OK! Coloring isn’t a race.. in fact just the opposite is true. Adult Coloring is all about slowing down… unplugging… and losing yourself in the calming world of color and the magic of creating beauty. This isn’t art class where you are graded.. do you want to make all the leaves on the tree pink? Fantastic! The butterfly blue… perfect choice… use the colors that speak to you and make your soul happy. Sometimes I will just sit and turn the pages of the Secret Garden.. some of the pages I’ve started and haven’t finished yet.. that’s ok too.. It’s YOUR book.. it’s YOUR journey and its YOUR choice..
Johanna Basford’s first adult coloring book, Secret Garden, has been translated into 14 languages, outselling the most popular cookbook in Paris. “I love the idea of chic French ladies shunning saucepans for coloring pencils,” says Johanna.
If you love green and tree’s and owls…. then you should journey into the “Enchanted Forest” first.
The one thing I had trouble with in the first book is where Johanna would leave pages blank with instructions for you to fill in the illustration. I’m not the amazing artist that she is so I skipped those pages. She doesn’t do that in the Enchanted Forest book so I’m sure she read the thousands of reviews written by coloring enthusiasts across the world. This book has 9 square images hidden throughout the illustrations along with dozens of other hidden surprises for the colorist to find as they are exploring the pages… towards the end of the book you need those secret keys to open the gates to the secrets that lie beyond the castle gates with the finale of the book being two huge double spread illustrations for you to discover. It’s brilliant. If you get tired of green leaves and tree’s… imagine it’s your own Alice in Wonderland forest and paint the leaves blue and the tree’s purple.. it’s ok.. it is YOUR Enchanted Forest to play in.
Just take a look at the fun images you’ll be playing with in the forest.
Just look through this lovely illustration closely.. you’ll see a basket of blackberries hanging in the tree a spiders web, butterflies and a wee door leading to??? Something magical for sure
“Enchanted Forest” is another magical coloring book that takes colorists through an enchanted forest to discover what lies in the castle. Similarly interactive like SECRET GARDEN, ENCHANTED FOREST also features hidden objects and fun mazes. Beginning at the entrance to a fairy-tale forest, the journey progresses through highly embellished woods and through intricate flora. Castles, treasure chests, and other magical elements add a fairy tale narrative to the designs. Special features include a gate-folded two-page spread, and a colorable jacket. Source: Amazon
Johanna believes that giving some designs away for free before her newest books are available was what helped launch her amazing global success. So if you have been unable to get your hands on the “Enchanted Forest” here are a few free downloadable PDF’s to keep you happy.
The Secret Garden took 9 months to complete as Johanna was still working as a commercial illustrator while she created it. Her second book she was able to create in 4 months. In this fun interview Johanna shows how she creates her images and shares her recommendations for pens and pencils to use to color them.
Johanna Basford’s recommendations for supplies to use to color her books are:
Johanna really likes these colored pencils for use in her books because you can sharpen them to a very fine point and they blend nicely. They have a coating around the led that produces less breakage than other pencils. Click here to Order US ~ UK ~ Canada
Johanna also recommends Staedtler Pigment Triplus Liners because of their vibrant colors that really pop and are very fine tipped so you can get in the details needed for her books.
Click to purchase Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens – look for the set with the stand up case that is very handy for your coloring station at home or when you take them with you as well as keeping them protected. There is a set of 36 but the reviews on Amazon say the additional colors aren’t very good or are repeats of these and for the price this box of 20 is a better purchase. The larger set also doesn’t come with their stand up box.
Johanna Basford’s Coloring Books (so far)
Johanna Basford’s Artist Edition
(20 Large single sided images on artists paper)
- Secret Garden – Artist Edition-US
- Secret Garden – Artist Edition UK
- Secret Garden – Artist Edition Canada
- Enchanted Forest – Artist Edition US
- Enchanted Forest – Artist Edition – UK
- Enchanted Forest – Artist Edition – Canada
Johanna Basford portable colouring (for the truly addicted Basfordians)
- Secret Garden Postcards
- Enchanted Forest Postcards
- Secret Garden Notecards
- Secret Garden Journal
- Secret Garden Mini-Journal
- Lost Ocean Postcards – Pre-order
Johanna’s 2016 Coloring books you need to Pre-order today
- US Amazon Pre-order Link This title will be released on August 23, 2016.
- UK Amazon Pre-order Link
- CA Amazon Pre-order Link
- US Amazon Pre-order Link This title will be released on October 25, 2016.
- UK Amazon Pre-order Link
- CA Amazon Pre-order Link
Follow Johanna Basford Online
Johanna Basford Free Pages
Secret Garden Pages
Secret Garden Wishing Well
Enchanted Forest Pages
Enchanted Forest Squirrel
Lost Ocean Shell Castle
Lost Ocean Fish Pattern
Lost Ocean Mermaids
Lost Ocean Crab Pattern
Lost Ocean Jellyfish
Christmas Book with Donation