Johanna Basford is a Scottish illustrator and ink evangelist who “prefers pens and pencils to pixels”, nowadays known as one of the pioneers of adult colouring books.
Born and raised in the small village of Auchnagatt in Aberdeenshire, Johanna studied at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD) in Dundee where she graduated in textile design with a specialisation in screen printing in 2005. Following graduation, she interned whilst setting up her own studio where she produced hand printed wallpaper and small home accessories. When the recession hit, Johanna realised her passion was not in manufacturing and selling, but rather in drawing and decided to shut her studio and set up as a freelance illustrator. Working out of her 1-bedroom flat alongside two part time jobs, Johanna’s love for hand drawing and intricate details soon led to a series of highly successful adult colouring books, positioning her as one of the leaders of the trend.
Johanna’s first adult colouring book and The New York Times bestseller Secret Garden was published in 2013 and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. With over 15 books published since then and a series of other colouring products, such as journals, planners, and calendars, Johanna’s work attracted the attention of many popular clients such as Starbucks, Sony, Tate Modern, Nike, Google, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Most importantly, Johanna’s mission to inspire the world to put down technology for a while to pick up a pen or pencil and get creative has sparked a movement of colouring as a form of self-care. Her latest adult colouring book, Rooms of Wonder, is out in October and invites you to step inside a world of enchanted interiors and bring them to life in your colours – the perfect self care and digital detox activity. Her accomplishments have not gone unnoticed, with the appointment of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2016 for services to art and entrepreneurship, and the University of Dundee’s Entrepreneurial Recognition Award in 2021. Johanna has also broken a Guinness World Record. She set the record for the Largest Drawing by an Individual in 2019 by creating a floral drawing over 501 sqm at her former school in Aberdeenshire.