An Interview with Arttapi Founder, Alicia Nees

If you haven’t had the pleasure yet of colouring a page out of ‘Travel. Colour. Create.’ then you, my friend, are missing out on an opportunity to take your imagination and your mind to exotic lands and places.

For the wanderlust in all of us, ‘Travel. Colour. Create’ is a way to escape from the confines of a desk job and to occupy a headspace where one minute you can be on a boat near the beaches of Thailand and the next you’re exploring Marble Caves in the depths of Patagonia.

I had the opportunity to chat with the founder and creative genius behind Arttapi and want to share with you some of the fun things I learned about Alicia, Arttapi, and the book that we’ve all come to love so much.

What made you choose colouring books as a medium with which to express yourself?

I love how colouring books can be used as a mindfulness and creativity tool.

Coming from the corporate world, this was something that I felt was sorely needed in the workplace.

There are so many benefits that can come out of keeping colouring books in the workplace, like increased focus and preventing burnout, but I’d say, even more than that, keeping colouring books in the workplace is a great way to just make your employees feel appreciated.

I used to be an executive assistant at a big head hunting firm, so I know what it feels like to be burnt out, to feel like you’re putting a lot in and getting very little back.

Corporate benefits that are aimed to show how much they value their employees are great for team morale.

Why did you decide to stick with travel themes?

Well, I personally love travel. Several of the pages in the book are places that I’ve actually been to, and getting to share little snippets of that journey with people is very rewarding.

Some of the places I’ve never been to. This is actually one of the things I love most about 'Travel. Colour. Create.' When you colour these exotic places, it serves as motivation to actually go and visit them in real life.

This can translate really well in the workplace because when employees are properly motivated, there is usually a general improvement in overall work ethic.

What are some of your own experiences with colouring?

Besides pushing myself to be more creative, I’ve found that I can pair colouring up with other things I love, like chatting with my husband.

I’ve also been taking my colouring game to the next level and have started practicing various colouring techniques by watching Youtube videos.

Tell me about Arttapi’s commitment to environmental sustainability?

Since I embrace an environmentally sustainable philosophy in my own personal life, it was important to me that Arttapi have that same philosophy.

For example, our deskmats are completely 100% recyclable. I also searched high and low for a printer that would be able to spray an environmentally friendly rubber latex coating on the mats. This wasn’t easy, but finally, I found one (Brights Print Group). They were amazing! They brought in their own chemist to get the job done!

What would you say is the future of Arttapi?

It’s constantly evolving. Without saying too much, I will tell you that there are some colourable gift cards and art board prints of colouring pages that are in the works. So definitely stay tuned for that!

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You're not that creative and here's why that's ok

Creativity is a very messy affair.

There is this beautiful notion that it just ‘comes’ out of nowhere and plants itself in our brains when we least expect it.

It’s a bit of silly notion, isn’t it?

Any professional creative will tell you this isn’t the case.

Creative coloring

It’s damn hard work, but more than anything. . . it’s showing up.

There are ways to ‘show up’ for creativity, ways in which you can help push the needle in the right direction.

Here are some of our favorites:

1. Acknowledge that you can't always be creative

Have you ever heard of the 'ten years of silence' theory? There was a study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University by a cognitive psychology professor named John Hayes. He studied some 500 odd creative geniuses and quickly noticed a bizarre correlation.

Almost all of these geniuses had created their BEST masterpieces after 10 years of working in their field.

It doesn’t matter what field you are in—creativity is not something you were born with. It is something that was sown and reaped into fruition.

When you realize that some of your most creative moments were a result of hard work done in the past, you give yourself permission to just show up. It’s ok if you produce a load of junk because you did your part, and no doubt, this 'junk production' was still a learning experience.

2. Keep a notebook, and mind map in it often

People like to keep an assortment of lists in their notebooks. It's how they get stuff done. That being said, lists operate from the analytical side of our brains. 

Mind maps, on the other hand, operate from the creative side of our brains and are used more to link concepts together. 

Mind map creativity

It’s particularly useful as a way to solve problems.

By making the problem the center, you can trace a thread all the way to the solution.

For example, when battling writer’s block, a mind map would force you to see the big picture first, and then let you connect the dots after. 

3. Expand your curiosity

When it comes to creativity, nothing comes out of a vacuum.

Every single brilliant idea we’ve ever had is a combination of some concepts or experiences we've had in the past. That’s why it’s so beneficial to expose yourself to industries, passions, and ideas that you normally wouldn’t.

If you find yourself in the marketing world, maybe it’s time to take a painting class. If you’re a designer, maybe you should learn how to write. If you are ALWAYS looking at cat videos, maybe. . .nah, nevermind.

You can ALWAYS look at cat videos.

4. Exercise

Have you ever tried going for a run when you find yourself in a creative block? I get some of my best ideas when I go running.

Exercise acts as a ‘cognitive enhancer,’ and it also forces you to breathe and focus on something else.The next time you’re feeling stuck, go for a walk and give your brain permission to think about something else—or to not think at all.

running for creativity

5. Play a game

Activate the logical side of your brain, and let it do the work for a little bit. This frees up your creative brain to ruminate in the background.

And don’t worry, if the person you’re playing takes WAY too long on their turns. . . those moments of pure, impatient agony give your BEST creative ideas time to sprout into your little gray cells. 

games for creativity and adult coloring

6. Colour

There’s no doubt that adult colouring has become a trendy and fun way to give your brain a break.

Many people are beginning to substitute it as a form of meditation. You can just zone out while colouring and be creative in a different way. And with colouring, there is no pressure to come up with the actual subject of your art since it already gives you a bit of framework. Colouring can allow your brain to find its inner zen.

For a FREE colouring page to try this out, click here, and sign up for our email list. We’ll send you a beautiful page that you can zone out to from our very own travel colouring book . 

adult coloring

Seriously, it's awesome. Check it out.

7. Collaborate

A good, healthy collaboration will always make a creative process better.

If you’re working with someone who is essentially a carbon copy of you, you might as well be working alone. Collaborating with people of different backgrounds and experiences forces you to see things in a new light.

It's also a beautiful way to connect with human beings.  Together you can all look at a collective masterpiece and think, "Wow, I was a part of that."

4 Productivity Hacks That Will Make You More Focused At Work

The office. It’s that place you go every day where you’re supposed to get all your most productive work done, right?

they should have coloured for productivity
Not to be confused with THIS epic office. Who else wishes Michael Scott was their boss?

And yet, one of the biggest complaints most employees have about their work environments is, in fact, how unproductive it can sometimes feel.

Between tempting office birthday cake that induces everyone into sugar comas and frequent meetings that take too long and manage to accomplish so little, it’s easy to feel depleted and lethargic by the time you manage to make it back to your personal desk.

Try these 4 tips next time you need to kickstart some massive productivity:

1. Do your most creative and important work first. 

With the exception of established night owls, most people feel their sharpest mental clarity in the beginning of the day after a healthy breakfast and a cup of their morning joe.  When writing out your to-do list, find the task that will either require the most creativity OR is the one thing that you can do to bring you the biggest results on your project.

Schedule this first. Then, when the afternoon slump kicks in, you can use that time to knock off the other less energy intensive to-do’s on your list.

2. Begin practicing the Pomodoro Technique.

If you aren’t familiar with this technique yet, I recommend reading up on this massively efficient time management system. In a nutshell, you learn to work with time instead of against it and manage all those pesky distractions.

This system has been known to literally change lives. Give it a try!

3. Distraction proof your space.   

When it comes down to it, there are usually three major distractions that prevent you from doing your best work: your computer, your fellow employees, and your desk space.

To distraction proof your computer, there are a plethora of awesome tools that you can download that range from limiting social media usage to blocking out unnecessary windows on your screen, etc.

Personally, I love Hey Focus because it allows me to switch between different productivity modes and takes care of all the mechanics to make that possible.

Dealing with employees and co-workers, on the other hand, can be a bit trickier but isn’t impossible! Consider an office ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door/back of chair.

add adult colouring pages for extra peace

Also, try putting your phone on silent, generating an auto-away message for texts, and activating an appropriate ‘get back to you later’ voicemail.

Finally, make sure your desk is optimized for maximum productivity.  A clear desk can contribute to a clear mind.

That being said, it’s good to have a few things here and there that serve to inspire you. For example, have you had a chance to check out Arrtapi’s new desk mat?

colouring pages for adults


The desk mat can be used as your mousepad or placed next to your keyboard, which means it doesn’t contribute to any desk clutter and serves as an excellent break from all the dreary, soul sapping mundaneness that a job can sometimes invoke.

And...hello….colouring?! YES. This is surprisingly STILL fun, and when it comes to finding focus, colouring has been scientifically proven to be an excellent tool. These make awesome secret Santa gifts for your next Christmas office party, too.

4. Create a mindfulness backup plan.

Inevitably, there will be moments when no matter what, you just can’t seem to focus on the task at hand. In these situations, the best thing to do is to just get up, go for a short walk and practice a simple 5 minute meditation.

I love the app Headspace. You can download it onto your smartphone, and it comes with a free beginners 10 day tutorial. The guided meditations are 5 minutes and can really help you find your inner zen.

colouring for mindfulness

These are a just a few suggestions that you can start implementing today to help you chisel down your massive to-do list.

What techniques do you use to help you find focus at work?

What does doodling do for your creativity, wellness and brain?

doodling and colouring for productivity

Historically, if someone was seen doodling while in a meeting it was assumed that they were not paying attention. Recent studies have actually shown that the people who doodle, are actually retaining more information than those who are not – in fact it’s estimated to be 29% more information.

Here are some interesting statistics obtained in a recent US study:

  • 92% of the nation’s colleges doodle in their notebooks
  • More than 75% of all Americans occasionally doodle
  • One if four of that 75% say they doodle at least once a day

      Given that there are over almost 320 million people living in America, that’s 240 million people doodling occasionally and 60 million people doodling at least once a day - which is a lot of doodling!

      Now that colouring books for adults have hit the market, all of these doodlers have a designated outlet for their creative needs. No longer do you have to discover that you have drawn on important paperwork or that you have thrown away important notes as they were on a bit of scrap paper you had drawn on; you now have a variety of colouring books to choose from that suit your personal taste.

      Part of the appeal of the arttapi range is that the outlines of beautiful images have already been formed so the pressure to create a masterpiece from a blank piece of paper is removed. Those that judge themselves as a bad artist or feel that they are not crafty will tend to avoid the whole creative thing completely, however our colouring-in is a non-threatening way to experience the joys of the creative process.