Mindfulness Mandalas! by Artist Kimberly-Ann Debling is a wonderfully-crafted adult coloring book with a number of unique elements that make it especially one-of-a-kind. (Find out what those are in the interview below!)
And best of all? It’s only $7.90 on Amazon.
I’m so excited to be interviewing you. I’m a huge fan of coloring books and I absolutely love mandalas! So, what inspired you to create this meditative coloring book?
I’m currently 37 weeks pregnant and during my pregnancy, I was diagnosed with cancer. I realised that even though I’m now in a hugely stressful situation, I had been more stressed and anxious in the past under less ‘socially valid’ reasons!
It made me really think about the way we deal with stress and how creativity helps so much. I feel that any creative pursuit is sometimes hard unless we’re naturally good at it, or have practiced since childhood. Don’t sing unless you have a good voice, don’t paint unless you’re an artist, don’t woodwork unless you create sellable items, don’t play an instrument unless you’re stage-worthy! At what age do we tell kids that its not right to do creative things unless they’re already a pro?!
I’ve always been interested in stress-relieving activities due to my previous life as an Air Traffic Controller, so I wanted to combine a few things that I’ve always loved to bring myself calmness – art and mindfulness.
Hearing that just made my heart feel heavy, but at the same time, your message is really uplifting. What an inspiration you are! So, every creative type has a path to follow. Can you tell me about your artistic journey?
My art journey has always tended towards the ‘design’ end of the spectrum. I’m passionate about packaging design (someone has to be)! But a lot of my joy was creating surface pattern and computer-drawn vector designs to include within the graphical elements. I just love how a beautiful pattern in combination with great typography, a barcode, and an ingredients list can become a real physical item that gets on shelves and in customers’ hands!
A designer to the very core… Wonderful! What would you say sets your coloring book apart from others that are available?
My book is deliberately simple, but the things that make it a little different from your average adult colouring book are:
* It is not too thick that it is overwhelming – there’s actually a good chance that you will finish all the pages. I always feel a sense of waste when I see too many un-coloured pages!
* It is printed on one side only so that if you use pens the bleed through doesn’t ruin the next page, my medium of choice for colouring is often alcohol based pens so this was a huge factor for me.
* Each page consists of a mandala plus a mindful phrase or saying to focus on. I wanted there to be a definite focus so that the ‘mindful’ part of the colouring has a special place for each page.
I especially like the mindfulness element. I can really resonate with it. Who are some of your artistic muses & influences?
I’m obviously in awe of some of the more famous colouring book artists, but I also love Lichtenstein, Mucha, and Dali. Mucha is probably my most obvious influence. I’m working on another book which will be a colour-in diary but this time hand-drawn… I can see lots of Mucha-inspired elements creeping in!
A color-in diary? Now, that sounds neat! When it comes to creating, how do you normally go about it?
I have a Midori style notebook/diary system and one of my inserts is devoted to notes and sketches. I sketch all the time but often away from home so most of my sketches are in biro! I rarely refine the sketches as I work directly on the computer either in vector or bitmap form. I love that if something doesn’t work I can shift around elements to play with different arrangements. I get very obsessive so I often have to tell myself to just stop! I love working with clients and I make it clear to them that all feedback is positive. I usually love the finished design after feedback much more than the initial drafts.
You mentioned your cancer diagnosis in the beginning of the interview, but it’s clear to me that you are a warrior. May I ask how it has affected your life?
Actually, I really feel that being diagnosed with cancer has improved my life dramatically. It sounds crazy, I know. For 5 weeks or so I had no details so became really introspective about so many things. My own mortality, the way I feel about life, how I feel about my husband, the kind of parent I want(ed) to be to my child.
I was put into the very best care and when the doctor told my husband and I that my prognosis was excellent and that I would be treated with light therapy (essentially I have fancy sunbed sessions twice a week) we felt like we’d won the lottery.
Before all this, I was your standard person who had ups and downs and rushed through life either doing too much or wasting time. Now I really do enjoy every moment and no longer tell myself that it’s “rushed” or “wasted.” My husband and I are so much stronger in our relationship. I work with clients better. Even my designs seem better to me now that I don’t critique myself so much! I’m so much happier now that I could cry—those “silver linings” really do exist.
I could cry too, Kimberly-Ann. In fact, I am. You are such a vibrant, creative, and courageous soul. Thank you SO much for taking the time to have this interview with me. All the best to you and your family, fellow artist!
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