Meet the Happydesigner: Designer, Illustrator and Marmite lover!

My name is Sarah-Leigh Wills

Welcome to my studio! I am an award-winning Designer, Artist and Children’s Book Illustrator.

childrens book illustrator

I have spent many years within the arts and media sector, primarily designing and teaching. Through this, I have gained a huge amount of experience by working with clients and students worldwide. Many people ask me what I like about illustration and design. For me, it’s not work, it’s pleasure! If I could wake up and do the same job every day, I would choose illustration!

When I’m not out walking on the moors, playing our record collection or causing a row playing my drums or banjo, I’m a children’s book illustrator. I have a huge passion for children’s picture books and a big collection of them. I don’t like reading biographies or novels! I have a child’s imagination,  which allows me to create the fun and quirky style that children just adore, and, just as importantly, makes them laugh.

happydesigner book illustrator

Where it All Started

I have a passion and a gift (passed down from my father) for illustration; “The Drawing Hand“, I like to call it! When I was in college I discovered a passion for design. You see, I have been able to draw since I can remember, and this carried me through school. I started out wanting to be a vet, like many 13-year-old girls, but I quickly realised that my path in life involved pencil and paper. I spent many years around animals. I spent 10 years on a farm, showing and breeding animals. But these days I just love drawing them!

I cultivated a passion for drawing animals at the age of eight. I would spend hours just drawing, rubbing out and re-drawing. I knew from then that drawing animals was something that I would be able to do on a daily basis for the rest of my days, so what better than to make a career of it!

So that’s where it all started. I went to college and studied a National Diploma in Graphic design, and I then went on to study at Falmouth University on the BA(Hons) Graphic Design course. It was here that I won my first award, which was first place in the UK & Ireland in the DAF (Design Against Fur) Award 2007. My work was featured at the London Design Festival.

How Happydesigner Started

slugHappydesigner was founded in 2007. When I was in college I wanted to become a freelance designer. Working for myself seemed the perfect job! I managed to get a few hours a week working for a local design company, Richard Quick Design in Penryn, Cornwall. Here I was able to gain industry experience of live clients, live briefs and quick turnaround deadlines! I was working with local website developers and printers, and have built up a great knowledge of the way things should function within a company. I then thought well, if I can do this kind of work for someone else, why not just do it for myself? So that’s when I decided to make a professional business for myself!  Since that day, I have been working with hundreds of clients across the world, including Pets at Home, Respect for Animals, British Airways, Sky and TalkCoach. I have worked with agencies in the past including Printing.com, Cornwall College and Crunchers.

Teaching Experience

When I left Falmouth and Richard Quick I went on to study a PGCE (teaching degree) as I had a passion for teaching my design skills. I went on to teach for two years on a foundation degree course at Cornwall College. I worked as a visiting lecturer, teaching on the Graphic Design Degree course, for several campuses across Cornwall, including St Austell College and Falmouth University. My fuel as a teacher was to give the students a true representation of the graphics career world. It’s hard going and takes years of dedication to succeed and I wanted my students to be ready for the hard, critical world that awaited them. Being a freelancer myself, and having in-house experience, I was able to bring live briefs and clients into the lecture hall and let the students and local contacts, printers and developers engage with one another. However, through all of this, I always had a string tied within me that pulled me back to becoming a children’s picture book artist.

Working with Clickety Books

One day I had a very interesting conversation with a certain Mr Craig Green in regards to drawing some animals! Myself and Craig knew each other from when we were working for separate companies. It was Craig’s idea to create a new educational resource for his son, who struggled with speech and language. All the resources that were available were not to Craig or his son’s liking and they felt a need to develop something more fun and engaging for children with similar issues. We started off with one character, ‘Jacqueline The Black Alpaca‘, and we now have reached double figures! I am now well-known for my cheeky style within the Clickety Books range. I have been working with the company for seven years now. The company are specialists in speech and language resources for children of all ages. You can see more of my Clickety Books work here: www.clicketybooks.co.uk

Ever since I left college I knew that I wanted to become a successful children’s picture book illustrator, and working with Clickety Books has given me the confidence and knowledge of the book world. I’ve had the chance to see what it is children like and respond well to, and also what sells! So, with all of this behind me, you can see how I got to where I am today!

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A Few Facts About My Work

  • I always create original, creative and professional work.
  • But I am always up for a chat to support you along the way!
  • I have an unparalleled method of working, as there is no company to deal with, no departments and no big bosses! It’s simply one-on-one meetings with me and conversations focused on your project.
  • I create professional designs that can be applied to any medium and any format.
  • And all this is always delivered with a SMILE! That’s free!
  • I have recently expanded Happydesigner and now have a great little team.
 

Personal Projects

Gillie Can Series

I have recently (FINALLY) plucked up the courage to start on my own series! After working on over 200 books for other authors, it’s time for me to start creating my own series. So, I’m proud to present my creation, “Gillie Can”.

childrens illustrator Sarah Leigh wills

Once I Saw A Band Called Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Recently I indulged my love of all things eighties by writing my own “fan fiction” style book about OMD, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

orchestral manoeuvres in the dark childrens book

NOW AVAILABLE, my OMD book is a children’s book about little Gudrun, whose parents love OMD. But she really doesn’t! Can their passion for OMD win over little Gudrun? Find out this spring! Pre-order your copy from the band’s website here.

Some Quirky Facts About Me

Speaking of OMD, my husband and myself have set up our own tribute band to Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark called Manoeuvres. I absolutely love OMD and they’re always on when I’m illustrating. I love playing music when I’m working.

I was certainly born out of my time! I love old music and vintage clothes and am a little bit of an old fart at heart! I like the simple life; staying at home, baking and enjoying family life. But then there’s the little rock chick in me that loves to get out and have a good old boogie or jive at a local gig or concert! Really I’m just the typical arty person, collecting random objects that are only important to me, that kind of thing. Here are a few facts about me:

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  • I LOVE fruit! I should have been a Fruit Bat!
  • I LOVE to make lists! 
  • I LOVE the 60’s; I think I am re-incarnated!
  • I have very clicky joints. Not a good thing really!
  • My work-related idol is Roald Dahl.
  • My favourite movies are anything Sci-Fi/Thriller.
  • I LOVE vinyl records! We have THOUSANDS!
  • I am turning into a Haribo gummy bear!
  • I am only 5ft 1 (all good things come in small packages my dad tells me).
  • I am a keen British coin collector. I have thousands of the things!
  • I’ve recently taken up felting!
  • I’ve rescued some guinea pigs; you can meet them here.
  • I’m currently learning to play the bass guitar and banjo.
  • I play the drums: Congas/Bongos/electric…anything I can tap really!
  • I’m in a band called Manoeuvres – A tribute to OMD.

Logo Designs

  • lazygrill-logo

  • songlarks-logo

  • discoveryleisure-logo

  • logo design

  • barkingbooks

  • Bethel

  • logo design

  • fancyprints

  • logo design

  • seeclickfix

  • logo-design

  • laidbackcoffee-logo

  • logo design

  • captainglamtastic

  • MG-logo-design

  • driveguru

  • gigglingbaby

  • henna-logo



  • LL-logo-design

  • getactive-logo

  • logo design

  • logo design happydesigner

  • happydesigner logo design

  • clicketybooks

  • HJ-logo-design

  • ryanschest

  • kangeroofitness-logo

  • cecile

  • logo design

How I Charge For Work

I have no set fee because every project is different! I will happily negotiate for those on smaller budgets and also offer package deals to make some big savings.

But that’s enough of my waffling!

childrens book illustratorNot answered everything? Do you still have questions? Visit my FAQ page to find out more about my services

You want to see what I can do, right? Well just grab yourself a cuppa, slap on some good tunes and have a good old nose around the site! If you’d like to find out a bit more, just drop me a message, I really would love to hear about you and your exciting project. Thanks for visiting and please come back soon! Sarah, aka Happydesigner.

A few of my previous clients

Design against furSt Ives Memory BayEden ProjectSkyRespect for animalsPets at HomeSt Moritz Hotel

  • "WOW! Love it! I'm so happy with what you've produced- and with so little input from me. FANTASTIC!!! THANK YOU” - Darren Pascoe: 'Red Rabbit Book'

  • "It won’t be a struggle working with Sarah, it’ll be a pleasure. Can’t recommend enough”
    - Richard Quick

  • "i really like ur books my mommy reads them 2 me all the time ur really good at drawling and i want 2 be like u when i grow up :-)"  Natassia Flegal (hd fan)

  • "Yes!!!! Wow…Love it!!! ..thanks so much, I absolutely the character design you have done for us!!! xx” Lisa Dell, Cornish Firewood

  • "Sarah understood what I was looking for and produced a fantastic logo for me.  She is very approachable and friendly – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her” Katie Jarvis, Fancy Prints

  • "I am absolutely THRILLED TO BITS with your illustrations! THEY ARE MAGNIFICENT!”
    - Susanna Jennicrai, Book Author

  • "Our brand wouldn't be the same without her on-going input. Just fab xx”
    - Justine Rogers, Dainty Dizzy

  • Sarah is an extremely talented designer and illustrator. She has that rare gift of being able to find something in your business or character that you never knew existed" Craig Green

  • "She has a keen eye for the quirky detail, she is punctual and a joy to work with. I simply cannot praise her enough.” - Clickety Books

  • "I hope my recommendation will persuade you to use Sarah! I cannot fault her, for her professionalism, enthusiasm and talent." - Michelle Hawkins, Director: The Flying DoDo

  • "Thank you so much Sarah! What a fantastic set of illustrations for the first in our series of children’s books. We can’t wait to work with you on the second book!" Jane Archer-Wilms & Marlies Veenhof

  • Got home tonight and the books had arrived. Absolutely love them. My girlfriend loves your illustrations.” - Andrew Jeffery: 'Wolfboy Book'

  • "Sarah provided us with an extremely friendly courteous and efficient service and injected an energy into the project, that only Sarah could" Discovery Leisure

  • "The logos are absolutely fantastic, they are spot on brief and are even better than we imagined!Paolo Pini, Step Up To Languages

  • “I was so nervous ringing you as i've never done anything like this before, but you were so friendly and put me completely at ease.” - Donna Purvis

  • Sarah is professional, friendly and very knowledgeable, she delivered 100% with a new logo that was spot on! We can't recommend her enough!” - Lucy @ Get Active

  • "These posters and flyers are perfect”
    - Julia G, Manager at the Truro branch of Pets at Home

  • "Sarah is quality.  Not just her design but she is a pleasure to work with."
    - Bob Harper, Portfolio Marketing

  • "You do have a very positive feel about everything you do. I do wish you continued success in all your work. All the best, SimonSimon James, Famous Children’s Book Illustrator

  • “Logos received with a BIG thanks, Basically I love them all” 
    Helen Chuah, Giggling Baby Products