Colouring Pages

Colouring pages appeal to lots of people of all ages and it’s a pretty low-stakes activity to provide. Sitting down with a pretty picture and a set of coloured pens is a good way to take a short time-out in the middle of a busy convention. So when thinking about what craft activities I wanted to organize for Dublin 2019, colouring pages were a no-brainer to put on the list.

Inspired by the lovely colouring book that Worldcon75 in Helsinki put together, I wanted to provide images that had some connection to Dublin 2019, and I wanted to have a variety of artistic styles and levels of complexity represented. Where to get those, though? Turns out lots of artists were involved with the convention in one way or another and happy to share their work.


So, where did I find those people? First stop, the design team: Dublin 2019 Design and Branding Lead Sara Felix contributed a line art version of the Dublin 2019 logo, which was used as a colouring page as well as a plate for the letterpress printing workshop by the National Print Museum. Iain Clark was happy to share the line drawings that a lot of his art work for the convention were based on. Here’s my favourite colouring page and the poster from the NPM workshop:

Colouring page and poster from NPM Workshop at Dublin 2019

I also reached out to the Art Show team. Art Show Deputy Area Head Serena Culfeather provided some lovely geometric designs, and also reached out to two-time Hugo-Award-winning fan artist Sue Mason, who gave us lovely detailed dragons, unicorns and a super hero girl.

Posting to the Dublin 2019 staff discussion list brought the last set of pictures. Mirkka Ojala is a teacher from Finland, and drew some lovely simple horses and princesses that I was convinced would appeal to the younger crowd.

All in all we had 20 different images. As you can see in the picture above, I added a letter for easy identification to each one as well as the name of each artist and the Dublin 2019 logo. We got 50 of each image printed, making 1000 pages all in all.

During the Convention

We ended up having space both in the CCD Forum, which also had the dealers, fan tables, and displays, and in the Warehouse at Point Square near the Art Show. I split the printed pages in half to start with. For colouring, I got a selection of felt-tip pens, crayons, and coloured pencils. Initially, we put out about five copies of each design in each location. I scheduled volunteers for twice-daily housekeeping in each location, making sure there were enough supplies and things were looking good. On the last day we were running out of copies at the CCD, which was not very surprising given that there were many more people there than at Point Square. Sending most of the spare printouts over solved that problem nicely, so I’d say we were pretty spot on with the number of printouts we got.

Lessons learned

I think we got that one mostly right. The twice-daily clean-up was a lesson I’d taken away from Helsinki two years ago, when I ended up doing most of that job myself and realized that yes, it is necessary, even when most people are good about cleaning up after themselves.


Lessons from Running a Community Art Project

I wrote a long post about my experiences running the Raksura Colony Tree project at Dublin 2019. Since this got very long, here’s the short version with just the lessons I’m taking away from this.

What worked well

  • Start early – for an ambitious project like this, six months to a year is good, for smaller things less would be fine.
  • Shout it from the rooftops – a fixed location like this blog is good, but even more important is using the convention’s social media channels – the social media team will be happy to do the shouting if provided with material. I also wrote an article for the convention blog and made sure the project got a mention in one of the progress reports and in a member newsletter.
  • Get sponsoring – even if it’s a long shot, just a little bit of help on the materials side can make things much easier. I didn’t really expect this to work out, but my efforts in this area were richly rewarded.
  • Plan the space – Think about what you need and communicate your needs clearly to whoever’s providing the space – workspace, storage space, display space.
  • Get out of the way – this is a hard one for me, but letting people just run with what I had prepared und not worrying whether the result matches my artistic vision made everything so much better, and I didn’t have to expend energy policing things.
  • Be available – this was what the planned workshops on programme were for, so people knew when they could expect me to be there.

What I’d do differently next time

  • Minimize shipping of bulky/heavy stuff – for anything bulky and/or heavy, I’d try much harder to get some local help. Mailing a huge parcel is a pain.
  • Have a partner in crime – sharing the responsibility and the need to be available. Members of the community we built stepped up for me in the end, but this wasn’t planned and therefore not something I could have counted on beforehand.
  • Think about move-out – having a clear plan for what happens with the project and the materials when the convention is over would have made move-out much smoother for me.