If you’ve dipped your pen into the world of adult coloring books in the last couple of years, chances are you’ve encountered the beautiful work of artist Wendy Piersall.
Wendy is the illustrator of six adult coloring books featuring intricate mandalas and designs that promote creativity and mindful relaxation. Her work as an artist and entrepreneur has been celebrated by such outlets as the Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal—and by the many thousands of colorists who have enjoyed her coloring pages. Here at GelWriter, we gladly count ourselves among them, so we were thrilled to interview her for this week’s blog!
Get a glimpse into Wendy Piersall’s life as a hugely successful adult coloring book artist and blogger—flying octopi and all!
GelWriter: Many of your coloring books focus on mandalas. What inspires you about mandalas? How and when did you learn to draw them?
WP: I first drew mandalas in college many years ago as part of a class about different religions. I started drawing them again in 2009 as part of my blog at Woo! Jr. Kids Activities, just because I had done some research and found that people were looking for mandala coloring pages. Interestingly, I created hundreds of coloring pages on all different topics for the site, but I felt especially relaxed and centered after drawing the mandalas!
GelWriter: You have created mandalas in so many different styles—birds, flowers, ocean scenes, animals, even dreams. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever made into a mandala? Is there anything you tried and couldn’t make work in a mandala shape?
WP: I think the craziest mandala in any of my coloring books is one of an octopus on a flying machine in Coloring Dream Mandalas. I know it was weird, but it was really fun to draw! I have plenty of drawings that are unfinished, or that never made the cut to get into one of my books. There’s no real rhyme or reason to what works and what doesn’t work—sometimes I just don’t like what I draw, and I can’t get it to a point where like it. I think all artists have some work that they really wish turned out differently!
GelWriter: Walk us through the creation of a single design or coloring page…what is your creative process?
WP: At the beginning of a book project, I will sit down with just a pencil and paper and sketch out very rough ideas. I have a huge library of vintage books, magazines and ephemera that I can turn to for ideas and inspiration. After that I do my drawings in Adobe Illustrator, and I shoot a lot of photos for reference material. I’m especially bad at drawing people, so I have quite a collection of drawing mannequins. But sometimes I’m able to simply doodle or make things up as I draw, which I really, really enjoy!
GelWriter: What is your art studio or workspace like?
WP: We live in a small town about 65 miles outside of Chicago, and my house is a plain but cute renovated farmhouse built in 1900. My studio is the enclosed front porch—it’s very small, but filled with light because it has three walls of windows. The light is SO inspiring, but it gets quite cold in the wintertime!! I share my studio with my daughter/production coordinator, who helps me with project management, and my kakariki bird named Mojo Jojo.
GelWriter: You have a new coloring book of vintage fashion designs out now. Can you tell us a little about the book and what drew you (no pun intended…well, maybe) to those designs as an artist?
WP: I mentioned that I have a huge collection of vintage books and magazines—and it is HUGE. Vintage fashion magazines are really hard to find and expensive to purchase, but I have a few of
them and they are my favorite things in the collection. I’ve also been very influenced by Art Nouveau artists, so I’ve wanted to do a book on this topic for a very long time. It never worked out until recently, and this book, The Masters of Fashion Illustration, is a TRUE labor of love! I felt like I was collaborating with some of my favorite illustrators of all time that lived over 100 years ago to bring their work back to life!
GelWriter: What are you working on now—or what’s next?
WP: The adult coloring book market is getting over-saturated pretty fast. I know I at least have one or two more books left in me, though. I’ve only started to think about what the next one will be, but I am pretty sure it will be vintage themed again. I would like to think I could draw coloring books for the rest of my life, but the fad seems to be fading. So I don’t know what will happen beyond this!
GelWriter: If you weren’t making coloring books, what would you be doing?
WP: I have been blogging for 10 years, 8 of which at the Woo! Jr. Kids Activities blog—I still draw & write, film videos, and create crafts for that site, and would go back to that full time if the coloring book fad comes to an end. I hope it won’t, though, I love doing both!
Here at GelWriter, we are eagerly awaiting Wendy’s next coloring book. Want a sneak peek at her newest vintage fashion book? Here’s a free printable coloring page to download!
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