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Adult coloring book 'Drawn Jawn' celebrates the weird in Philly

From "wooder ice" to whatever goes into scrapple, Philadelphia artist Kate Otte looks at her adult coloring book as a "tongue-in-cheek celebration of all the quirks" surrounding the City of Brotherly Love.

A page from Philadelphia-based artist Kate Otte's adult coloring book "Drawn Jawn."
A page from Philadelphia-based artist Kate Otte's adult coloring book "Drawn Jawn."Read moreKate Otte

So what goes into scrapple, anyway?

While Kate Otte, a 28-year-old artist and Philadelphia transplant from Ohio, isn't completely sure, she knew she had to tackle the mystery meat along with a slew of other familiar themes, such as "wooder ice" and parking-spot savesies, in her new Philly-themed adult coloring book, Drawn Jawn.

Otte, a full-time graphic designer who lives in Fishtown, said it took her about three years to put together the more than 50 ideas in her coloring book that made its debut on Etsy and Amazon just last week.

"I think it's kind of a playful and tongue-in-cheek celebration of all the quirks of Philadelphia," said Otte, who moved to Philly after graduating from the University of Cincinnati. "I really wanted to focus more on trying to capture what it's like to live here or the jokes or nuances that only locals would understand."

Some of those jokes include a prompt that reads, "color all the animals that are in scrapple," with a lobster, rabbit, turkey, pig, and a few other animals pictured underneath. Otte said she didn't include an answer to the question in the book's key for obvious reasons.

Other prompts ask the reader to "navigate Pennsylvania's liquor laws" to buy alcohol needed for a party, while another asks to color the household items a person might use to save a parking spot. Options include, but are not limited to, a chair, ladder, propane tank and traffic cone.

There are Toynbee tiles, a trolley track maze for all the bikers out there and a "Lenape Name Game," too, where drawers are asked to match such words as "Manayunk" or "Moyamensing" to their believed original meanings. (Hint:  "where we go to drink" and "place of pigeon droppings.")

Some pages feature more traditional scenes, such as Chinatown or the Divine Lorraine Hotel.

Otte's way of incorporating the things that reflect Philly's personality stand apart from other Philly-themed coloring books that may show just William Penn or Independence Hall.

"I've seen coloring books for other cities, but I think a lot of them are really focused on architecture or street scenes," she said. "… For me, even though I think Philly has great architecture that I love, what I also love about Philly is how weird it is and how unique it is. I think it's really one of the city's strengths."

Adult coloring books have dominated bookstores across the nation for a few years.

About 12 million coloring books were sold in the U.S. in 2015, up from just one million the year before, according to Nielsen Bookscan. The data provider noted that the uptick was primarily driven by millennial women — though Otte notes that people of all ages have expressed interest in Drawn Jawn.

The activity can be beneficial to our mental health, too. Coloring could help reduce some symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to a recent study published in the Creativity Research Journal.

Lisa Kay, an associate professor within the Department of Art Education and Community Arts Practices at the Tyler School of Art, stressed the difference between something that's therapeutic and the practice of art therapy, but added, "I think there's something calming and relaxing in just the repetitive nature of filling in the space and coloring areas."

Benefits aside, Otte's book is mostly a summation of all things Philly. While it will make most sense to people who live in the city, Otte sees Drawn Jawn as a crash course for tourists, too.

"I think that if you were visiting and wanted to understand Philly culture, this is a really good intro," she said.

Otte hopes to soon release some of the prints already colored in for those not interested in arts and crafts themselves. And she's already brainstorming beyond that.

"I just kept thinking of more things," she said. There will be "a part two, for sure."