How 'king of doodle art' Jon Burgerman created his first colouring book

The artist tells us about creating works for a "fun and funny" colouring book (with stickers).


Jon Burgerman's first colouring book is out in July (or August through Amazon). Jon is the world's most popular doodle artist – but the book is more than just a canny publisher being aware of his large fan base and the popularity of colouring books for adults, doing the maths and coming up with a ker-ching noise.

As Jon explained to me over email, the Burgerworld book is the latest in a long-line of colouring-in projects for the Nottingham-born, New York-based artist that stretch back to before Johanna Basford's Secret Garden kickstarted the colouring books for grownups trends.

"I've always been a big fan of colouring-in stuffs," he says. "Over the years I've hand-drawn many murals that people can come and colour in. These became so popular I got exhausted doing them and created colouring-in wallpaper as a response.

"The colouring-in wallpaper was such a huge success – and still is – that I started to think about other colouring-in products. I made colouring-in wrapping paper, cards, jigsaw puzzles and recently even clothes."

This lead to his first colouring book, which like Johanna's has been published by Laurence King. Jon says that the thinking behind the book was about "how can people get their colouring-in fix anywhere and any time? So I've just made a super fun colouring-in book! And it comes with stickers. Stickers!"


Asked why he thinks colouring books for adults have been so popular recently, Jon mentions some of the usual factors – creativity, fun – but also notes the satisfaction that people get from completing a drawing. As with more traditional forms of creativity – drawing, painting, even knitting – there's an emotional need being satisfied not only while working on the task but that continues when it's finished.

"I think it also taps into a child-like innocent pleasure we experienced before tablets and apple products took over our lives."

Photos of Jon by Bas Berkhout

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Originally the book was conceived as being primarily for adults – Jon says he wanted to create a colouring-in book that he'd enjoy personally.

"But then – as I'm reminded by those closest to me with alarming regularity – I am not quite what you could call a true adult," he says. "So really it's for anyone. I just tried to make it fun and funny. I was keen not to bow to the current trend of colouring in books, and offer people something quite different."

What he's referring to is the trend among colouring books – the most popular ones at least – to focus primarily on beautiful drawings of the natural world and relaxation (ok, and bullshit).


Jon says that creating the artworks didn’t involve changing the way he conceived the artworks or drew them, saying that he’d just "stop at the point I'd usually add the colour myself. You could say this was a real half-job on my behalf – but let’s not because that might make it sound like I didn't put much effort in, when really I did. Honestly!"


Most artists prefer to create sketches and roughs before working up a final piece, but Jon’s doodle style suits a more freeform composition.

"I rarely do roughs but I might draw the same thing a few times over in ink and just pick the best one,” he says. "Once the drawings are scanned there's a little bit of tidying and composing – but that's about it. If it works as the original drawing in my sketchbook, then it will work in the finished book."

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Burgerworld will be followed by other, non-colouring, books – and Jon is also working on exploring motion-based work including both animation (which you can see on his Instagram) and live drawing on Snapchat.


There are a few pages in Burgerworld that Jon has already coloured in for you.