Throwback Thursday: Coloring and Activity Book

Welcome to my third Throwback Thursday! Today we’re going back a whopping 8 years, to 2005!

First – a little background: In college, I was a member of Phi Sigma Pi, the National Honor Fraternity. As a member, you’re required to maintain a minimum GPA, as well as devote a certain amount of hours each month to volunteerism. About a year after graduating, once I had adjusted to “the real world”, I realized that I really missed volunteering. I mentioned this to my boss at the time, and he got me the contact info for the Director of Volunteers of a local hospital: Orange Regional Medical Center.

As it turns out, this volunteer opportunity was a match made in Heaven! Aside from needing someone to work in the Gift Shop (funzies!), the Volunteer Director had a very special project in mind: she wanted someone to design a coloring book to help occupy children in the waiting room of the trauma center. Illustrate a children’s coloring book?? Gladly!

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From the get-go, I decided it would be both a coloring and activity book. I really wanted it to help distract any child in the unfortunate situation of waiting for a loved one in the trauma center. So, in addition to positive images of happy people visiting or working at the hospital, there were also mazes, word searches and matching games. The activities ranged from easy to difficult, in hopes that this would occupy kids of all ages.

I sketched each page and then scanned them so that I could trace and tweak them in Illustrator. I was able to re-use a lot of elements on multiple pages. For example, there were 4 variations of the balloon page (with different messages), and then I also re-used the balloons on the new baby page. Hands down, my favorite image is of the happy fruits & veggies on the “Eat Healthy…Stay Healthy” page :)

In the end, the coloring book was about 25 pages, and took me about 6 months to complete. I’m so happy that I was able to do this project. The Volunteer Director had tried to get this idea off the ground multiple times, but volunteers (usually high school students) kept flaking out. I was determined to help her idea come to life. On top of that, I was eager to do something for the kids that were stuck in a stressful scenario.

Of course, looking back at it now, I see improvements that could be made. First, I see some inconsistencies with the thickness of my outlines. Second, my page margins are non-existent – the text is WAY too close to the page edges. Most importantly, I should’ve made all of the outlines thicker.

This last point was made by an Art Director that I had at a previous job…AFTER I had already handed the final PDF off to the hospital. Lesson learned: it’s important to share your work with people who can give a fresh perspective on things that you’ve been staring at. I’m usually pretty hesitant about having “too many cooks in the kitchen” – but the nice thing about advice is that you can take as much or as little as you need.

Well, that’s it for Throwback Thursday! You my now return to your regularly scheduled year :)


3 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Coloring and Activity Book

    • Janelle – you are the best/most consistent commenter EVER! Did you notice that one of the peas in the pod is winking? Hehe ;)

      To answer your question: As far as I know they used them….I just gave them a PDF so they could print them out as needed. About a month after I had finished the book, the hospital sent me a care package with a Thank You note and a whole lot of ORMC swag – so they seemed pretty happy with it :)

      • Well I may be a bit slow in commenting but I do try.

        If I had to be in that waiting area as an adult, you bet I’d be coloring and playing in your book. Just for children? pssssh.

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