Not rock, paper, scissors but… trees, paper, books!

Trees. There’s nothing Marmite about trees. We’ve not come across a single person who doesn’t love trees. Even those who are pretty much wedded to being city dwellers love the fact that there are parks and green places dotted around, all with trees in them.

We have an additional reason to love trees at Happydesigner. Because without trees, would we have paper? Yes, paper really does come from trees, with the exception of a few varieties, like rice paper and hemp paper.

Without paper, would we have books? And without books? Well… nothing for our fantastic Sarah to illustrate. A little tenuous, we agree, but we like that train of thought…

So the fact that paper comes from trees is just one of the many, many reasons the team here at Happydesigner are doing our bit to help support tree planting.

Tree planting with the National Trust 

We believe as a business and as human beans (as the BFG would say) we need to support the environment we live and work in, and which is why we are backing the National Trust’s tree-planting initiative.

For every book we complete, we donate a tree, and so far we have donated 20! We’re chuffed with that. And as we are getting busier all the time, we reckon our tree-planting rate is only going to increase.

Did you know, just 13 per cent of the UK is covered by trees, compared with an average of 35 per cent among EU countries? That’s one of the reasons that the National Trust wants to plant 20million trees over ten years. Our little island used to be covered in trees, and we need to make a step towards that again.

We’re not sure how many will be planted on behalf of Happydesigner and our wonderful books and authors, but for a small team we have made a great start. From little acorns, great oak trees grow! Well done National Trust, we’re proud to be playing our part.

A bit more about paper

Okay, so paper comes from trees, but which trees? We think it is important to look at sustainability. Even if paper comes from a recycled source, it started life as a tree, so we believe it’s a good idea to look at the provenance of the paper we are using.

In other words, we want to use paper that comes from managed woodland where the trees are replenished, and where the ecosystem is maintained for the flora and fauna inhabiting it.

In the UK, the UK Woodland Assurance Standard is used to certify timber that comes from a sustainable source. There are lots of organisations – like The Woodland Trust – which are dedicated to looking after woodland and increasing the wooded area in the UK. 

wildlife happydesigner childrens illustration

A bit more about trees

We love a fun fact at Happydesigner, and the internet is awash with fun facts about trees. Here are a few of our favourites:

  1. Some trees never die of old age. Which isn’t to say they don’t die, but it won’t be old age that gets them. One of the oldest on the planet is called Methuselah, and it has been living in a forest in California for nearly 5,000 years. There is also cypress in Chile which has been alive for 3,600 years. Good heavens! Glad we don’t live that long.
  2. A bit like living forever, some trees keep on growing forever – up, and up, and up. There’s one in the Redwood forests of California, called Hyperion, which has reached 116 metres – so it’s 20 metres taller than Big Ben, and you can’t see the canopy from ground level. Amazing!
  3. Trees make us happy. No, they really do! They release chemicals called phytoncides. When we breathe this in, it’s been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, and lower blood pressure, as well as increase our pain thresholds. How fantastic is that? Leading on from this, there’s a trend taking off, which originated in Japan in the 1980s, called Shinrin-yoku, which translates as ‘forest bathing’. Taking a daily, leisurely walk in a forest and enjoying the atmosphere is hugely therapeutic.
  4. Many myths surround trees, and much is written about them in folklore. Did you know the phrase ‘knock on wood’ – i.e. meaning ‘with luck’ – comes from the belief that knocking on a tree awoke spirits who would protect us?
  5. There are three trillion trees on the planet, that’s 422 times more than there are people. But there used to be many, many more. We need to look after our trees and forests. Just saying. Which leads us nicely on to…
childrens book illustrator

Happydesigner and sustainability

At Happydesigner, being sustainable is embedded in our ethos. In our early days, we had to rely on paper and ink, and we produced thousands of designs. 

We realised this wasn’t good for climate change, so we invested in IT and now have brilliant design equipment which allows Sarah to create her fantastic children’s book illustrations onscreen. 

We have hugely reduced our need for paper and ink, and where we do use it, we opt for sustainable versions. You can read a little more about our commitment to sustainability here.

Are you thinking of writing a children’s book? Do you need help with the illustrations? Wouldn’t it be good to know that, if you chose the Happydesigner team to help, you’d also have a tree planted to mark the publication? If you’d like to chat to us about books, trees, paper, or sustainability, then please get in touch with Sarah and the team. Helping the planet, one tree at a time, with our children’s book illustrations!

Written by Jo Smyth (

A few of my previous clients

happydesigner clients

  • “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

  • "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'

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

  • 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
  • "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

  • “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

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

  • “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’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 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

  • 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 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

  • "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

  • "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

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

  • “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

  • "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
  • “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

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

  • “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