Designing with Creativity: A Conversation with Barbara Reid

Barbara Reid is an award-winning author and illustrator based in Toronto, Canada. She is famous for her unique illustration style which uses plasticine artwork and photography to bring stories to life. Her books have been published internationally, and have been translated into at least nine languages.  

One of the best parts of designing a children’s book are the endless possibilities – children’s books are only limited by your own imagination. But the creative process of bringing a book idea to life can be complicated; with so many ideas, which one should you use? Being faced with so many possibilities may be daunting, so we turned to a professional for some help.

Barbara Reid is an award-winning Canadian author/illustrator famous for her plasticine illustrations. We had the opportunity to ask her about her creative process and her thoughts on making books for children. Based on our interview, here are some tips to creating a fantastic children’s book:

1.  Make an emotional connection with the reader

Make sure that your story is focused on the reader, and get them to invest in the story being told. Stories created with this in mind are more memorable – our team members still remember stories that were read to us when we were just little children. Creating a story that makes an emotional connection with the reader is a great way to make your book stand out.

2.  Look for inspiration everywhere

Barbara Reid shared that when she’s working on a story, it’s always in the back of her mind. Constantly keeping your story in your brain means that any conversation, song, or item serves as inspiration for the book you are creating. Keep your eyes and ears peeled, and you’ll be surprised what helps you come up with ideas.

3.  Draft, draft, draft

Barbara Reid described her design process, and it involves a lot of revisions! After reading through the manuscript many times, she starts with thumbnail sketches, then makes a storyboard and develops a colour palette for the book. After sharing her sketches with her art director and editor and getting feedback, she starts on the iconic plasticine pictures that eventually get photographed.

Revisions are part of making a good story into a great one! At every single stage of the design process, asking someone for feedback and reevaluating your work allows you to workshop your ideas and improve them. Don’t be afraid of having too many versions – it’s all part of a very valuable process to making your story the best one it can be.

We would like to say a massive thank you to Barbara Reid for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about her design process. Check out her work on her website,

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