Meet Barry: our Studio Manager and chief tea brewer extraordinaire

At Happydesigner, we love illustrating children’s books and you’ll know, if you’ve worked with us, that all the clever drawing is done by our very own Sarah-Leigh.

But there’s another very important person at Happydesigner. He may not be crazy about crayoning like Sarah-Leigh, but he’s a vital cog in machine. He’s the one who sorts out the business side of Happydesigner, and he runs a very tight ship.

Other lighter duties including helping to look after the studio pigs and Erik the cat, and – essentially – making the tea. Oh, and he is Sarah-Leigh’s other half.

So, meet Barry, our Studio Manager. Before you read on, be warned; Barry has an interesting sense of humour and we suspect he may not have taken this entirely seriously! Hmmm…

Where do you hail from? 

Well, my birth certificate states Wolverhampton, although I have a sneaky suspicion that I was the result of a failed secret government experiment into cloning ninja garden gnomes.

What did you do as a child to pass the time? Was everything closed on Sundays?

I loved playing in the local park, usually football (I was something of a mean goalkeeper) and occasionally sailed my boat on the lake. However, I also loved spending time playing my guitar along with my ever-growing collection of records. Was everything closed on Sundays? I wouldn’t know as I spent all of my time either in the park or playing records!

Did you love reading as a child? 

Yep, I read all sorts, from fab comics to science books explaining all about the solar system.

Did you enjoy school?

Absolutely I did! Fabulous days that I look back on with great fondness, although Fagin was a little harsh with us all, especially when we returned without good pickings!

What was the naughtiest (printable!) thing you did as a child?

Naughty? Me? I was a perfect angel and never dreamt of doing anything naughty… Next question…

What were your favourite children’s books and why?  

I learned to read using a strange system called ITA. I still remember many of the books and class them as being amongst my favourites. I also LOVED the Enid Blyton Famous Five books.

Where did you and Sarah-Leigh meet?  

I was appearing as a body-double for Shrek in a low-budget alternative real-life remake when Sarah spotted me huddled in a corner eating a cheese sandwich. As cheese is one of her favourite foods, the magnetism was immediately there, and after she had stolen the sandwich from me and devoured it, we spoke. The rest, as they say, is history.

Before you joined Happydesigner, what did you do?

Crumbs – where to start? Okay – here’s a condensed list: salesman, freight traffic controller, shipping clerk, export clerk, customs clerk, professional musician, nightclub DJ, radio DJ, customer care manager and caravan repairer.

What’s your role at Happydesigner?

I’m described as the Studio Manager which encompasses many things. However, as I’m rubbish at drawing, my role is to do anything that’s required, so long as I stay well away from the pencils and paintbrushes!

Who feeds the studio pigs and Erik? 

This is something we both do, although Erik does have a preferred routine for his breakfast that very definitely does not involve me!

What’s the secret to making the perfect cup of tea? 

Quality tea (Assam), boiling water, unhomogenised Jersey milk, a dollop of honey and a good mug are the components. I could tell you my process, but then again, that’s my trade secret. However, one thing I’m very happy to share with you is DEFINITELY DO NOT put the milk in first!

What do you do in your spare time?  

We don’t have a lot of spare time, but I do like to write songs and compose music. In fact, I released my first ever singles on the unsuspecting public last year and have written theme tunes for children’s animated series.

Who do you like to work with at Happydesigner?

Our service is available to all authors and writers who are looking to have a high-quality, professionally illustrated children’s book created at an affordable price, and we apply the same standards to every book project we work on. However, it is particularly rewarding to produce books that are aimed at helping, supporting and educating children.

What book, disc and luxury item would you take on a desert island?

Oh wow – what a question! Book: How to Escape from a Desert Island. Disc: Music to Build a Raft By. Luxury item: something on which to play the disc!

And on that note… thank you Barry!

If you’d like to talk to Barry or Sarah-Leigh about illustrating a children’s book you’ve written, or if you need a logo designed for your business, please get in touch. And if you’re passing our Herefordshire HQ, why not pop in and sample Barry’s Assam tea?

Written by Jo Smyth (

A few of my previous clients

happydesigner clients

  • "I can’t speak highly enough of Sarah! She has brought Roopert Snoopert to life in a way I could never have imagined.
    The illustrations are fantastic! Sarah keeps you update with progress from the draft stage right through to sign off." - Paul Micklewright
  • “Sarah was lovely to work with and keen to make sure that the illustrations were a perfect match for the story. It’s obvious that she really cares about her work and wants you, the author, to be happy with the final results.” – Marion Adams

  • “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 loves her work, her friendly ‘can do’ approach is reassuring whether you’re on your first or tenth book."  – Darron Jon Love
  • "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

  • "Sarah quickly understood what I wanted to achieve and the look I was after. Sarah kept me informed and brought me into the whole process” – Darron Jon Love

  • 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

  • "Thank you both so much for your hard work and dedication. Sarah is a fantastic illustrator! It is nice to know I have worked with someone who is so professional at her job, and will certainly remember her for the future if I need another book illustrating."
  • “Sarah’s advice has been invaluable, she could have just illustrated my first attempt but knew there was more to be had from the story and pointed me towards the right help." – Darron Jon Love

  • "I am absolutely thrilled with the colours and love the look and overall feel of the book, its so different and unique, thank you so much"
  • Sarah has a great insight into how to best produce a children’s book and is really helpful in getting you there! I really cannot recommend Sarah enough – brilliant designer, friendly and professional. The experience has been a great one!“ – Jodie Jackson
  • "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'

  • “Sarah’s re-branding of my business has given it a much needed fresh and quirky feel. She 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

  • "Sarah is amazing - very fast at understanding the requirements, great pictures and never too much trouble. I recommend her wholeheartedly" - Fernando Caldeira-Saraiva
  • 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

  • "Outstanding illustrator with exceptional talent. You couldn’t wish for a better artist, as it would be impossible to find. Such a spectacular gifted designer who is always happy!" - Rachel Lake

  • “Thank you, Sarah, for the amazing work you did on the illustrations for my book. Working with you has been so easy thanks to your enthusiasm, flexibility, support, professionalism and, of course, the amazing quality of your work." – Stuart Neath

  • Sarah really understood the brief right from the beginning and has been able to translate my ideas and mental images, that at times were quite specific, into magical illustrations that are better than I’d ever hoped. She has absolutely nailed it!” – Gareth Edwards

  • “When we first contacted Sarah, Dainty Dizzy was a concept;  an idea to be shaped into a brand.  Sarah took this idea and illustrated it perfectly….and our brand look and feel was born.” – Dainty Dizzy

  • “I am so happy that I found Sarah to bring my book to life. Sarah took the time to listen and really made the effort to make sure that I was happy and her brilliant designs translated the words of my book into a beautiful visual story." - Jodie Jackson

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

  • "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

  • "It's been great working with Sarah as our illustrator! She's been so great in taking all feedback on board and delivers work of the highest standard. Would 100% recommend :-)" - Michelle Gibbs, Doodle Dozen Series
  • “Books arrived safely today- I am absolutely delighted with how they look – I can’t thank you enough – you’ve made my dream come true :)” – Jane Collins

  • "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