Coloring books are no longer just a kids’ game — more than 14 million adult-aimed versions were sold last year alone, and bookstores and gift shops now feature entire sections dedicated to the trend. Into that fray comes Coloring Santa Barbara, a collection of 31 illustrations of landmarks, cityscapes, and the like published last month by the Santa Barbara Conservancy, an architectural-preservation-minded nonprofit. It’s perfect for kids, too, but will likely be more appreciated by older residents and tourists who’ll enjoy adding their own flair to the scenes they know and love.
The 12-by-12-inch, $17 book is printed on sturdy card stock that can withstand whatever marker you wield, and the pages are perforated so they can be easily framed. It features the illustrations of 12 architects, designers, and landscape artists, including Jeff Shelton, Brian Cearnal, and Courtney Jane Miller, done in a style similar to the Conservancy’s popular poster that combines many of the city’s famous buildings into one collage. Scenes include The Granada Theatre, Casa de la Guerra, and the Fiesta and Solstice parades, and they are accompanied by historical explanations written by retired city planner Mary Louise Days and UCSB history professor emeritus Richard Oglesby.
“This fun book serves as yet another reminder that the city we call home is truly a very special place, and that’s the point,” said the Conservancy’s boardmember Steve Hausz, who led the book’s design and publishing after reading an article about the adult coloring book trend earlier this year and realizing that his mother-in-law was a big fan. But when Hausz tried to find a coloring book based on Santa Barbara, he only found one and thought he could do a better job. He first tried using software to convert photographs to drawings, but that wasn’t cutting it.
“Then I had an epiphany and thought that asking local architects to do illustrations was a brilliant idea on so many fronts and would relieve me of a lot of the work as well,” said Hausz. “Well, it was still a lot of work, but I’m very proud of how it turned out.”
It’s the second book that he’s helped the conservancy produce — last year’s Santa Barbara: A Guide to El Pueblo Viejo won the coveted George and Vivian Obern Preservation Stewardship Award. The organization, meanwhile, was named a Local Hero in 2015 by this newspaper.
As for his next project? “To devote more attention to my day job: architecture!” said Hausz. “Publishing a book and then doing your best to get it out into the world is a lot of work!”
Coloring Santa Barbara is available at Chaucer’s Books (3321 State St.) and various gift shops around town. See sbconservancy.com.