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Coloring outside the lines

by sanmigueltimes
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The Mexican Maria dolls have fascinated me for a while now and I’ve tried various social media avenues to help the doll sellers out in their efforts to support themselves.  Plus I’m constantly buying and giving the dolls away both in daily life and anytime I am giving lectures across the US on the Power of the Feminine in Central Mexico.

With the virus, I discovered posting silly photos of the Maria doll provided rapid and constant enjoyment as they have little, or nothing, to do with current events but were a fun slice of Mexican history and culture in unusual settings.  For example, here is Clue’s Mrs. White, in the kitchen, with a knife.

The dolls on-line popularity surge encouraged me to revisit the notion of an adult coloring book based on the Otomi-made Mexican Maria dolls.  Research has shown that repetitive movement, like with coloring, effectively self-soothes in moments of distress.

Adult coloring was a new world to me.  I remember as Christmas approached in fourth grade, Sr. Mary Torture told us if we still wanted to color it was time to go back to second grade and get it out of our system.  “Coloring is for babies!”

No longer.

Today coloring is for adults.  Namely young (18 to 29 year old) Millennial females with three caveats:

  • Subject matter rules. What one is coloring is the primary decision on buying a coloring book.  One has to like puppies, flowers or quilts before one can color in the details.
  • Details come in second. Every one colors at a different level.  So you may be a die-hard puppy lover but if the images aren’t beginner, or advanced, enough for you, you won’t buy the book.

Suffice to say coloring is a very niche market.  You, as the author/artist has to land both the subject matter and experience level.

Oh, and the third point is those that color are called colorists.  As racist, or Miss Clariol, as the term sounds, colorist simply means one that colors.

The recent history of adult coloring books has been a roller coaster.  In 2014, one million copies of adult coloring books were sold. In 2015, the number jumped to 12 million with some reaching New York Times Best Selling status.  Instagram helped in the momentary surge of adult coloring popularity as posting brightly colored pages fit the social media site perfectly.  But by the summer of 2016 adult coloring book sales peaked, died and have been declining ever since.

I’ve sat on the idea of adult coloring book for Maria dolls for a while.  While the Maria dolls have zoomed in international fame in the last year alone, there was still no coloring book featuring them.  I’d love to think I’m so clever to have an idea first, but that’s doubtful.

Plus I didn’t want to market another regional book.  Regional books are fun to write but hard to market as unless someone is going to your subject area, or has just been there, your work isn’t in high demand beyond the initial release.

However, Mexican Maria dolls aren’t San Miguel specific.  They’ve been declared a national cultural contribution and are for sale not just across Mexico but all over the internet.

For example, a trashcan site featuring folks doing silly stunts when walking the trash to the curb as their only time out the house posted my image of the Marias taking out the trash this week.  The Marias’ image went viral with nearly two thousand women responding the first day out and nearly all being Australian.  Maria dolls are popular even Down Under!

So I traced photos I’ve taken of Marias (plus some of my book covers) to create and produce coloring books to give, for free, to Otomi doll sellers to sell with their dolls when the virus is past and tourists return to town.  I was thinking of the coloring books as a contribution to compensate for the doll-makers lost earnings during these bad times.

The coloring book is available on Amazon now at cost, so you can spend some relaxing hours coloring away the quarantine.  The link is…..

The Maria dolls, like all girls, just want to have fun!

by Joseph Toone

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