Coloring Books and Cultural Change

The meditative effect of coloring in a coloring book can be garnered as a tool in normalizing cultural movements. Currently we are experiencing the dawn of on-demand electric transportation on a global scale, as well as a renewed space age that holds the hope for unhindered scientific experimentation and exploration. Coloring books, aside from providing relief from the effects of our busy lives, induce a trance-like state of mind that can open up the unconscious to new realities. By incorporating subject matter that relates to current cultural shifts, coloring books might be a method for spreading a desired change in attitude among certain populations.


The therapeutic value of coloring has been documented by a group of New Zealand researchers, who found in a study group that coloring (as opposed to doing Sudokus) brought about a decrease in symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is no secret that the coloring book craze was fueled by more than just nostalgic impulses to return to a childhood past time. The top reasons coloring books came onto the commercial scene so suddenly were largely due to the calming effects of coloring and the fact that it's an activity that is disconnected from electronic devices (something we desperately need to balance our daily lives). It's also very portable and can be done while waiting in a doctor's office or talking on the phone. It can be done by anyone, democratizing the process of art. The same part of the brain that produces anxiety and stress is the part that is needed to color in a coloring book (choice of color, repetition, etc.) so that part of your brain that engages in negative thinking patterns is actually calmed by redirecting the energy onto the coloring page. Finally, with all the patterns, details and repetition involved in coloring these intricate designs, it becomes a meditative activity that serves to sharpen the mind by way of focus. People report that the activity has a mesmerizing, trance-like effect. It is this latter effect that makes it a unique medium for transporting cultural messages to the conscious and unconscious mind. When the mind is calm and focused it is primed for receiving new information and new ideas. It is almost as if the child inside is awakened during the process of coloring, and a child's mind is a learning mind.


When learning about electric transportation, it's best served with a side of climate change information. The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication recently released the Climate Change in the American Mind: 2018 Report, which was an exhaustive study on the patterns of thinking about climate change. It turns out that few Americans are confident that humans will reduce global warming and that only about 1 in 3 Americans say they discuss global warming with family and friends “often” or “occasionally”. Yet, 7 in 10 Americans think global warming is happening. So how do we get more people to adopt this subject matter into their household conversations, and to start paying attention to new industries and startups that are aimed to combat global warming? According to NASA, the role of human activity in causing climate change cannot be denied. The most important long-lived forcing of climate change comes from carbon dioxide emissions, such as burning fossil fuels like coal and oil, which has increased by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution began. A panel of over 1300 scientific experts from around the world have aired through the United Nations that there's more than a 95% chance that human activities over the last 50 years have warmed the planet.

Enter Tesla. Poised as the first major disruptor of the combustion engine vehicle, Tesla is finally starting to hit their goals in the production of electric cars. While detractors of the company complain that the lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars are an environmental hazard, scientists are working to redesign the batteries to be less toxic by using organic molecules instead, thus keeping future generations in mind. Not only that, technology will evolve to be able to efficiently recycle lithium-ion batteries when the cars have gone through their life cycle. A number of sustainable recycling methods have already been proposed. Sustainable energy is increasingly defined as an energy system that serves the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their energy needs. We're entering an era of fossil fuel phase out, and electric vehicles can source renewable energy like solar power for charging batteries. Raising these issues in a coloring book brings current events right into the home for everyone to see and talk about.


Okay, so Tesla is a no-brainer. But why SpaceX and the quest to colonize Mars? If you haven't already skimmed through the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs' Moon Treaty of 1979, now's a good time to catch up. One big takeaway from it is that it states that all celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and the freedom of scientific experimentation and exploration. The latter is incredibly important for keeping progress going in the human race, and the former is just downright important to all of us in a shared, connected world. A new space age is upon us. Just a few of the beneficial areas of study in space are sustainable development, global health, agriculture, disaster management and international peace and security. And in terms of new human colonies where we can test new ideas and ways of living, Mars scales up best. Rather than go into the details of why, you can read Elon Musk's Mars manifesto here, and it's all made possible through SpaceX's reusable rockets.

SpaceX is making the privatization of the space race popular. It's no longer solely a governmental endeavor. Yet, people remain hesitant to let science and progress run free at the hands of private companies. “A survey conducted by Morning Consult for Bloomberg Businessweek found that only 37 percent of respondents - drawn from a spectrum of backgrounds and political affiliations - thought private companies should play a major role in space exploration.” Again, how do we change the narrative on a popular level? Furthermore, SpaceX currently employs around 700 females which is only roughly 14% of their workforce. How do we grow those numbers to invite more females to the business and by default, more people in general? Traditionally, the coloring book craze has a target market of adult females. That means those females could potentially expose their daughters to coloring books and even offer them some pages to color themselves, opening up conversations between parents and their kids in a way that was typically male gendered previously.


By igniting the imagination via coloring scientific subject matter, we encourage our creative mindset to work in tandem with scientific inquiry and the reality of the world we are creating for future generations. Coloring activates both sides of the brain. Coloring books can be a tool for shifting the collective conscious and for normalizing what is currently still up for debate but shouldn't be. The mesmerizing effect the activity has on our brains makes it a unique delivery system for cultural updates and highlighting issues that face humanity, while also providing therapeutic benefits of relaxation and mental focus. Coloring isn't just for kids. It's a family thing, and revolution starts with the family first.


Might I suggest, the Illuminated Tweets of Elon Musk coloring book? Coming soon to a table near you.


No commissions at this time.

I've been asked lately if I do commissions.

I have decided that at this time it does not make sense to divert any time or resources away from the Tweeting Me Softly coloring book. 

It would be short sighted to step away from it for any amount of time. It is the most important art I've ever done. I haven't released my vision for the coloring book in any formal public document except in a few paragraphs in a pitch to an editor, as I'm testing the waters of spreading the project on my own, organically, through the internet.

I'm not focused on the marketing or the finances. I'm hyper focused on content creation, on the actual deliverable book. I'm making sure I've got myself aligned with my sources of inspiration and with the gaps in consciousness that could benefit from this cultural content. This is a more than full time job with no immediate compensation except through the generosity of my patrons at Patreon. To my patrons - in whatever amount that you have been able to sponsor me with - thank you from the depths of my heart and mind. 

If you are interested in a commission from me, please consider the scope of my current project, the meaning behind the message and the time-sensitive nature of it... and then reconsider the allocation of funds to becoming a patron of mine. Illuminated Tweets of Elon Musk is the primary mission right now, so if you would like to invest in my art, this is how to do it. Click the image below. Thank you in advance!


Simulator patrons automatically receive five free signed copies of the coloring book once it's printed, including a decent shout out in the book, among other rewards. 


"SpaceX propulsion just achieved first firing of the Raptor interplanetary transport engine" tweet has been illuminated.

This is a tweet from September 25, 2016 by Elon Musk. The significance of this tweet is that the Raptor engine is an engine that runs on liquid methane and liquid oxygen, an important factor in getting to Mars and returning back home, as methane can be sourced on Mars for refueling. This could very well be the engine that changes humanity forever, helping us to become a space colonizing species. 


The risks involved in getting to Mars and surviving long enough to explore and gather more data about our universe are high. But the risk of civilization dying off is higher if we don't get off our home world and continue to explore. Consciousness begs us of this endeavor. We have the lenses to explore further, and we must. Why else are we here? What else would we have been given the unique ability to observe and create for? To stop growing is to die. To stop learning is to wither. To stop searching is to admit the end. Earth is not the end. Earth is the beginning. 

To support the creation of this coloring book, Illuminated Tweets of Elon Musk, you can find me on Patreon as ILL INK. Help me inspire the world through coloring. It's fun! You can also get high res versions of each coloring page as I draw them, so you can color them long before the book is printed. Teachers, feel free to share unlimited copies with students for educational talking points and inspirational activities.



Live drawing: Iridium satellite deployment & ASTRAL space shoes illustration

SpaceX's rocket has already returned to Earth but the Iridium satellites are still getting deployed into orbit and I'm listening to a live broadcast that tells me the moment they are deployed into position. 

This is what I listen to while I draw. I like to feel connected to the most distant Earth happenings. Keeps my head wrapped around the amazing times we're living in.

These are shoes drawn from actual Banana Republic penny loafers I got at a thrift store. They were filthy but fit great so I took permanent markers and colored them all over. I later had a terrible accident in these shoes, like the fool I am sometimes. So now they belong to a character not unlike The Fool who wears these to traverse the different layers of atmosphere. Head in the clouds kind of fool.




Resting Muskface - quick warm up sketch

I set the timer to 25 minutes to get a good fast warmup session going. I've been meaning to draw Musk ever since his news of leaving the presidential council hit. There was an article that juxtaposed an angry Trump face with a subtley unimpressed and disappointed Musk face. So I call this look the resting Muskface. 

Original tragicomedy:


Warm up sketch:


Choosing a Color Theme

Words contain the voice and purpose of the story. 

Pencils contain the action and direction of the story. 

Inks contain the style and tone of the story. 

Colors contain the mood and emotion of the story.

Or I could be completely making that up. It feels like an oversimplification because it is, but it's for learning, and in learning there must be simplicity above all else. 

How do I choose a color scheme?

Easy. I ask myself, how do I feel? Or how do I want others to feel from my the image?

I decide on an approach to harmonizing color. Any Google search can show you how to use different patterns on the color wheel to discover natural harmonies. Otherwise without your wheel and your rules, you're just swimming in your own ideas of favorite colors and imagined colors.

Coloring is a real labor of love and is underappreciated. It's an entire art form apart from drawing. It's why abstract art or impressionism was even a thing. Color is kind of a big thing. And it's not easy. It takes a lot of practice and messy mixing to learn how to harmonize a color scheme.

Color is a messy workshop. It's not a drafting thing, which is really technical and tiring. Color is the work of a mad scientist. Check out Color: A Workshop Approach    

It will take you through a variety of experiments with analog color projects that are easy enough to find the source material for each project. You can probably take a digital approach to it pretty easily, although I am in the camp of most traditionalists and that is to do it in the real world first. You'll be much more fantastic in the future and ahead of the game if you start analog and then jump into the digital (or start both analog and digital at the same time if you can keep it up). 

Tints are the lightened versions of your colors (adding white or a version of white) and tones are darkened versions of your colors (adding black or a version of black). You'll see the tints and tones of my chosen color scheme below. 

Sometimes the best way to begin learning color is to find magazine ads, artwork, clothing patterns or objects from nature that have really interesting or harmonious colors. Take a close look at the sunset, at flowers, at stones in a river bed, at your favorite scenes in movies, at classic art, at elegant billboards. Snap photos with your phone whenever some set of colors catches your eyes, and later on, handpick the top 5 to 10 colors in the picture of the thing that caught your eye. That's natural color workshopping. Deconstruct what you know is inherently harmonious, and use those base colors for your own work. You can also take note of color that angers you, jars you or is unharmonious. Those color palettes have their own merit and purpose as well.  

Sometimes the best way to begin learning color is to find magazine ads, artwork, clothing patterns or objects from nature that have really interesting or harmonious colors. Take a close look at the sunset, at flowers, at stones in a river bed, at your favorite scenes in movies, at classic art, at elegant billboards. Snap photos with your phone whenever some set of colors catches your eyes, and later on, handpick the top 5 to 10 colors in the picture of the thing that caught your eye. That's natural color workshopping. Deconstruct what you know is inherently harmonious, and use those base colors for your own work. You can also take note of color that angers you, jars you or is unharmonious. Those color palettes have their own merit and purpose as well.  

Color is erratically organized by nature. Go look and see! Spring is the perfect time to check it all out. I listened to this while I came up with my current color palette. Enjoy. 




In life drawing, there are really only a few options for drawing the human form as it is, live. 

1.  A life drawing / figure drawing class

2.  A large mirror

3.  A public place (cafe, park, museum, transit, etc.) 

4. Your family or friends, if they can stand it

So sometimes you have to cheat. You have to snap pictures where you can. I recently took like a million reference images of my face and hands, with many different expressions, since we largely communicate complex emotions through facial expressions and hand gestures combined. Here below, I've taken two hours to practice drawing my own hand and face. 

A little bit of squarism pops up in my inking method here too, in the hands and face.

A little bit of squarism pops up in my inking method here too, in the hands and face.


This just in: TARDISGRADE

I interrupt my regularly scheduled post day job inking session, to bring you this shocking newsbreak. 

The Tardis DNA has been spotted under an extremely expensive microscope in a laboratory somewhere on Earth today. I was too excited to read more of the details. I got to work right away on this very important discovery.

Below is a link to the scientific illustration:

welcome to illustrious inklings

Here I am, world. I'm doing a thing. I'm making comics in my free time. Posts on here, prior to this one, have been populated over from my Tumblr account which I used a little before putting this website together. You can find more of my madness on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. 

I've still got to add my long list of links to artists and writers in the comics world that inspire me, as well as some friends I've made along the way by showing up to Comic Cons. Thanks to everyone that's been supporting me in my quest to self study this cool genre of storytelling.

Much gratitude,