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Outside the Lines & Outside the Lines, Too

By Souris Hong

Reviewed by Alexandra Heep

· Contemporary Art

Outside the Lines, a New York Times bestseller, and Outside the Lines, Too aren't your typical coloring books as each feature curated art by 100 contemporary artists. As such, the books are thicker than any other coloring books I've encountered as an adult. Most of the avant-garde designs were specifically commissioned for the books by Souris Hong. The illustrations are single-sided, and the back of each page lists the artist info pertaining to the design on the front side. The paper has a nice, smooth texture.

Art knowledge is not required to enjoy these books. For example, when I first received the books and leafed through them, Andy Warhol popped into my mind, and I have no idea about the art scene. Later, when I read the intro paragraph, I noticed that, indeed, Outside the Lines was inspired by Ms. Hong's daughter's affinity for Andy Warhol's art. However, the artists represented come from many creative backgrounds.

While knowledge of the art scene or about different styles is not required, appreciation for contemporary art and a desire for expression help because many of the images are open to interpretation. As such, they inspire many facets of the creative coloring process. You can use different media (just remember to put a paper behind each page like you would with any book in which you color). So far, I have used markers, but removed the pages before I colored them.

The designs vary greatly in regards to emotional and technical aspects. You can find many layers of human emotions in the designs while others are a blank slate. Some are very inky, some appear to be very simple, others are very detailed. There are a few images with grayscale attributes. Many don't seem to appear "complete" until you add your own design touch. Yet, technical skill is not a requirement: As the name suggests, you're quite welcome to color "outside the lines."

Outside the Lines 

256 pages

Publisher: TarcherPerigee; Csm edition (September 3, 2013)

The creative masterminds represented include cartoonists, animators, graphic artists, fine artists, musicians, illustrators, photographers, outsider artists, video game artists and street artists. You'll find the works of AIKO, Exene Cervenka, Jen Corace, Shepard Fairey, Keith Haring, Ryan McGinness, Keita Takahashi and more.

Outside the Lines, Too

256 pages

Publisher: TarcherPerigee; Csm edition (September 1, 2015)

The creative masterminds represented include cartoonists, animators, graphic artists, fine artists, musicians, illustrators, photographers, outsider artists and street artists. You'll find the works of Tim Biskup, Justina Blakeney, Richard Colman, Dalek, David Ellis, Jim Houser, Ryan Humphrey, Rainer Judd, Kevin Lyons, Maria E. Piñeres, Timothy Tompkins and more. Unlike the first book, this one has perforated pages.

You can purchase both books through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other retailers. In the case of the first release, it has its own website with ordering info.

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Here are two of the pages that I colored, one from each book:

From Outside the Lines, colored by me (Alexandra Heep). Artist for this picture is Hitotzuki

From Outside the Lines, Too; colored by me (Alexandra Heep). Artist for this pic is Jim Houser.

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