ARTb Design Story

A therapeutic activity book series for fine motor skill development through exercises exploring creative confidence, focus, problem solving, & working memory.

As of December 2016, I began development of a Montessori method inspired workbook series targeted at development of fine-motor skills and spatial relationships through creative exercises. Principles of importance for me included that the user of the books needed to be able to understand and execute the activities independently if desired, have a way of recognizing errors and self-correcting them without judgement from an external authority, and exercises should create fun surprises so as to reward the learner with their creations and promote continued creative exploration. Finally, it all needed to be portable and require minimal mess if any, so as to plausibly enjoy these activities on airplanes, in car travel, at restuarants, and during camping trips. To these ends, you will find my books have a minimalistic styling, are a standard 8.5×11 size (17×11 full spread), have error control designed into the exercises to signal users where they may have missed a step and allow the user to correct or keep the difference, and range in subject and imagery to entertain people of a variety of ages and interests. All while keeping the graphics clean to minimize confusion for the user and allow for the linear instruction set (5 different kinds of lines: solid, dotted, dashed, wavy, and zig zag) to lead the user, reader or non-reader, to success with the work.

A secondary set of literal instructions are present but concise and intended to allow unique creations rather than a tightly controlled standard result. For instance, where a tree is being created for tearing and crumpling the instruction set reads: ‘ TRACE the dotted line; COLOR with hues of a tree; TEAR on the wavy line; CRUMPLE the zig-zag lines’. At the completion of these steps the user will see they have made a tree, or perhaps they will envision it as something entirely different. I do not label the final result for them. This style of reference but open instruction allows for the user additionally to decide what hues of a tree are for them. Perhaps it’s the brilliant red of a maple in the fall, or the glowing yellow of Aspens just before winter; the deep green of a conifer, or perhaps a saturated and bright spring green. There are endless possibilities to what it might mean to be tree colored.

The line became named the Artistic Refinement Therapy Workbook Series in April of 2017 and includes books for toddlers through the elderly with many additional activity books in the works, expanding the expectations of an activity book and what can be learned and accomplished through creative arts.