Adult coloring books exploded in popularity last year, claiming five spots out of the top 10 best-selling books. Though the pure fun of coloring has to figure into their appeal, they're also touted as stress relievers, or as a less-challenging alternative to meditation – a description that depends on your fine motor skills, no doubt. Even IKEA sells one now, a tacit acknowledgment of the stress induced by the IKEA Marketplace. (At least you don't have to put it together with a hex wrench.)
Local artist Jen Jedlicka took note of the trend last year as she was preparing her wares for the Grandma Party Bazaar. But her intent in creating Welcome to Orlando: The City Colorful wasn't to calm people down, it was to excite them.
"I thought it would be fun to create something only true locals to Orlando would recognize and appreciate, the non-touristy side of Orlando, the Orlando I love! People don't often know how rich the culture is here," Jedlicka says.
- Coloring book page from the City Colorful by jen jedlicka
The City Colorful is more than a pen-it-and-forget-it throwaway – it's a keepsake. The book has 10 removable pages, printed on card stock (frame-ready!), all featuring landmark Orlando signage like Beefy King, the Parliament House, Wally's, Colonial Photo & Hobby and, of course, the dearly departed Red Fox Lounge. "I started with some of my favorite places to hang out," Jedlicka says, "and then the idea just grew from there."
"My favorite part of this project is getting the reference material for each drawing," Jedlicka says. "I'll spend a morning drinking coffee, listening to music and driving around to all my favorite places and taking photos. I use those original photos as the base for each hand-drawn page. After I have the reference photos, each drawing takes around an hour or so to compose, sometimes less or more, depending on the detail."
Runs of the first edition sell out almost as quickly as Jedlicka can get them printed – since their December 2015 Grandma Party debut, she's been selling them on the Bungalower website – which she thinks "speaks to how passionate Orlandoans are about preserving and celebrating our landmarks."
And since 10 isn't nearly enough, there are plans for many more. "I have so many places that I'm excited to include in the next edition: the lush landscape at the Enzian, the neons of Whiskey Lou's, the Hideaway patio, to name a few," Jedlicka says. New books in the works: a "neighborhoods" edition highlighting College Park, Mills 50, Winter Park, the Milk District, etc.; an "RIP Orlando" edition; and even books for other cities, starting with a Detroit edition.
"I'm excited to start the RIP Orlando edition," Jedlicka says. "It will feature places that don't exist anymore, like Bar-BQ-Bar, the Peacock Room [and] the old Amway Arena." It may have been that drawing of the Red Fox that planted that notion for Jedlicka.
"One of my favorite pages [in The City Colorful] is the Red Fox Lounge. Some of my best memories involve a bathing suit and a Salty Dog in a plastic cup."