First University adult coloring book, ‘Orange, Blue, and U,’ hits stores

By Emma Palatnik, Assistant features editor

The idea stemmed from a routine staff meeting. It was there that the University of Illinois Press decided to make “Orange, Blue, and U” the first ever University adult coloring book.

It is 32 pages and contains images of landmarks such as the Illini Union, Alma Mater, the Main Quad and the Idea Garden. The coloring book can be purchased on the University of Illinois Press website and in select stores around campus.

“I think somebody had said, ‘Why don’t we, if we’re going to do something fun and crazy, why don’t we do a coloring book?’” said James Engelhardt, acquisitions editor. “They all looked to me and said, ‘James, would you be willing to make that happen?’ I said, ‘I guess so, sure.’”

Although this book is the first of its kind for the University, other presses have designed coloring books based on different college campuses.

At the time of the project’s inception, Engelhardt was new to campus after moving from Fairbanks, Alaska. He used the project as an opportunity to learn about the University and its history.

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“I got to talk to several of my colleagues and other people and wander around campus and look for those buildings (that are in the book) and try to take some pictures, and talk to the design team about what they wanted and how they were going to do it,” Engelhardt said. “I was really happy to just learn about campus, and wander around it and get to know my surroundings a little bit more.”

Even Dustin Hubbart, art director, who is from the C-U area, learned things about the University he did not previously know.

“This was eye opening, doing some research into some of the different buildings and different areas on campus that were unusual to me,” Hubbart said. “I didn’t know Harker Hall was the oldest building on campus — I found that interesting. And some of the other things that popped up along the way like that. It helped me understand the campus a little better.”

Once the project moved out of the early stages, and all of Engelhardt’s pieces were in place, Hubbart and the design team took over.

To start, various members of the University of Illinois Press came to them with ideas on what landmarks and buildings to include in the pages.

Hubbart along with Tamara Shidlauski, production coordinator, hand drew each coloring page that ended up in the final book. They did some editing on the computer as well, but Hubbart said it is better to work by hand in the long run.

Shidlauski said she mostly helped the project by embellishing and adding details to the designs Hubbart gave her. She did illustrate a few of her own images as well.

Some of the landmarks, Hubbart said, were easier to draw than others, like the State Farm Center and Memorial Stadium with its straight lines and columns.

“We use different images as references for each of the coloring pages, because some images might have had different areas blocked out and you can’t really see it because of trees or something,” he said. “So you’ve got to use different references; some had more detail than others.”

At $9.95, the coloring book is priced for an impulse buy. The team wanted the book to be a fun gift to send to a friend, buy for a student, use as a holiday gift or as a stocking stuffer.

Engelhardt said shortly after the coloring book was released, he had a conversation with a friend and she told him she was ordering one for her brother for Christmas.

“I was like exactly, that’s exactly what this is supposed to be doing,” he said. “Just something fun for the U of I community and for alumni and to have to either remember, to have some fun with or to hand out to their friends to let them know what their campus is like.”

For Engelhardt, one of the aspects of the book that appealed to him was the book’s whimsicality. The team hadn’t done anything in that category for some time.

He also said he enjoyed coordinating with the design team, looking at what they were doing, tracking the development, and planning what and where they wanted to go with the project. Through this, Engelhardt said he was able to build camaraderie with his colleagues.

To achieve the final product, the University of Illinois Press team spent many hours working in the studio.

“It was definitely a very laborious project,” Hubbart said. “It took many hours and everything, trying to research different areas that worked well and also a lot of drawing, editing and that kind of thing to get everything to look just the way we wanted it to.”

The coloring book was officially published in May and coincided with the University’s sesquicentennial and the University of Illinois Press’ centennial.

“I think it just worked out really well for us and the timing was good,” Hubbart said. “I think things aligned themselves.”

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