The Daub Creative Workbook for kids happened when David Bennett’s son had a stay at the King’s College Hospital in London in 2013. The British branding agency director began thinking about how he and the creative industry could help children in hospital wards, and how to thank the staff who had helped his son and family. The idea of a “Creative Workbook” was conceived: something to occupy kids’ minds and imaginations while stuck in a place that can be scary, foreign, and boring.
So Daub project began, which features drawings from some of the world’s top illustrators, all of whom have lent their talent to a picture book for sick kids to color in and play with. Bennett’s background made this visual publication possible. “I run a online creative site called Visuelle, and over the years I have featured the contributors, so I reached out to a few—who all have different styles and approaches—to see if this is something they would like to help with,” he says. “I was amazed at their ideas… They really had some great thinking and interactions the children could work with”.
Among the artists taking part are Rachel Sale, Hey, Stephen Smith, Crispin Finn and Jean Jullien. Julian wanted to be a part of it simply because it’s “a great cause”. And the other artists were equally enthusiastic about how wonderful this could be for the kids in the hospital.
The illustrations in the book range from everyday items, like sneakers and household items to animal pictures. Jullien says of his character with a paintbrush, “I chose something that was more of an invitation to create than a final piece. I wanted the kids to identify with the character and to continue his action of drawing.” He also thinks it’s important to not dumb things down for kids, “I don’t believe in drawing specifically for children; I find it a bit patronizing. My favorite things as a kid weren’t specially designed for a young audience, but it was good enough to be understood by them.”
Daub has initially made 300 copies for King’s College Hospital, to see how the kids like it. If the first run is successful, Bennett plans to talk to printers and paper manufacturers to help support the next round of Daub workbooks. The idea has been a hit with not just the illustrators, but also the hospital. “Nowadays, a lot of the children are on electronic devices playing games—not all but a good few. The hospital loved the idea of getting the kids to use their imaginations, even if it’s for five or 10 minutes, to color in, create something they can feel proud of and share with other children in a similar environment,” Bennett says.