Daria Song, forerunner of domestic coloring books
Daria Song, forerunner of domestic coloring books
  • Lee Tae-hee
  • 승인 2016.10.17 12:53
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A young child’s imagination creates an imaginary world where fairies roam in a world of peculiar happenings. The fantasy story is wound into a coloring book and presented for everyone to enjoy. As divergent colors bring the black and white illustrations to life, joy and calm settle into people’s hearts. Although there are many coloring books lined up on bookstore shelves these days, Daria Song, a graduate of Ewha, was one of the first Korean coloring book artists to blaze a new path which was once considered an unfamiliar genre.
“During my studies at Ewha, there were no such things as coloring books,” Song said. “After graduate school, I was inspired by Johanna Basford’s coloring book ‘Secret Garden,’ which led me to also start creating one myself. Since I was one of the forerunners of coloring book artists in Korea, I think many readers were interested in trying out my books.”
Although some might assume that familiarizing the public with coloring books would be hard, Song disagrees. In fact, social media was what successfully drew attention towards coloring books. People posted photos of their creative version of art on their SNS, intriguing others to participate in the coloring book trend. As more and more photos were uploaded and introduced to the public through SNS, coloring books also appealed to the busy modern day people who sought a calm and leisure activity to relieve their stress.
Although making itself a trend in Korean society helped popularize coloring books, it also acted as a double-edged sword. Striving to keep up with the trend while keeping her uniqueness was one of the hardships Song encountered.
“Coloring books have taken root as a significant culture for adults in some foreign countries, but in Korea, it’s not the case,” Song said. “The coloring book trend is stalling a bit these days. To keep up with the fast shifts in shift, I had to follow the publishing company’s suggestions for popularization rather than keeping my artistic style. It was hard at that time, but looking back now, I think meeting their demands led to good results and consumer satisfaction.”
Song’s coloring books are loved by many readers not only in Korea, but all over the world. Many coloring books in Korea are largely imported from countries such as France or England. Song’s coloring books, however, are exported to 17 different nations worldwide, leading Song to receive the 2015 Amazon Writer of the Year Award. When asked the secret to her success, she replied that balance was important.
“As there are many coloring books overseas, publishing a similar one doesn’t appeal to the readers,” Song said. “So, I intentionally incorporated Korean style of drawing to make mine unique. However, overloading the book with a Korean style of drawing can be little too exotic. So, I blend the styles of East and West together. I think the experience of having lived in America when I was a child taught me the right midpoint that I try to reach.”
Gaining much love from a wide range of readers, she does not keep the success only to herself. Song helps those in need by publishing coloring books like “With Rose” to fund Lou Gehrig Hospital in Korea and other books to fund African girls’ education. She also added that she takes part in talent donation.
“Success doesn’t last forever, and I may also experience misfortune, so I try to make talent donations when I can,” Song said. “Also, by helping others, I get inspired as well. A book titled ‘Night Voyage’ is based on my experience of sharing from the time I worked on talent donation in the publication field.”
Creating positive effects as she works on coloring books, Song wishes to continue her work by widening her sphere of art. Besides planning on publishing one more coloring book, she is also opening an exhibition of decorative clock figures in November and hoping to communicate with her audience more frequently.

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