Andrew Watson

Andrew Watson – Designer

Children's book designer/art director. 15+ years UK publishing industry experience . Passion for picture books. Cover and interiors design.


I've been designing children's books for the last 15 years with a number of UK publishers and its a job I've loved! Nurturing, moulding and creating a book from scrappy thumbnails sketches to a beautiful, surprising and captivating book is a process I never tire of :-)

I have experience of designing many genres of children's books from complex novelty pop-up books where I commission paper engineers and work closely with the printer and production teams, to first word board books or to illustrated non-fiction. I love all sorts of books but I would say my passion is for picture books. Discovering the perfect, perhaps unusual, illustrator and working closely with an editor as team, creating a book that will move and engage the reader so much that they want to re-read over and over.

The best example I have of this collaborative working process would be the Waterstones Award Winning book 'The Bear and Piano' by David Litchfield (see below) This was Davids first author /illustrated picture book and it was a huge pleasure to art direct him. Since then we have published three more in the series and another three more stand alone books.

I like to push the limits of illustration and the book as a product. Nowadays it's not enough to have just a great story. The jacket needs to be immediately eye catching and stand out on a bookshop shelf or equally as an Amazon thumbnail. A book jacket and hard cover is surprisingly versatile, the possibilities are endless and with some clever typography a talented illustrator, a creative editor and an adventurous publisher, we can create award winning books that children will cherish for years.

PLEASE NOTE: I will not take on any projects if its stated the illustrations have already been 'done'. The book needs to have been almost completely designed BEFORE any final illustrations can commence.

Children’s Non-Fiction
Middle Grade Picture Books
  • MA Textile Design
  • BA Hons Printed Textiles

Work experience


Oct, 2016 — Present

Now I'm a freelance book designer, still specialising in children's book design...but living in Spain :-)
Since becoming freelance I have worked with publishers such as Parragon, Hachette, Quarto, Otter-Barry Books.
I have also set up a surface design company specialising in illustrated prints, greetings cards and homeware products.

Quarto Publishing

Sep, 2013 — Oct, 2016 (about 3 years)

Responsible for the design and art direction of the children's books department. There were two imprints: Frances Lincoln Children's Books and Wide Eyed Editions. This role was fantastically challenging as Frances Lincoln was rebranding and Wide Eyed Editions was being created. I was creating a fresh, modern, beautifully illustrated picture book list whilst also reviving some classics on the back list such as Edward Ardizzone's 'Little Tim' series , some Quentin Blake books and re jacketing the hugely popular 'Amazing Grace' for its 20th Anniversary.

Another key part of my job was discovering talented illustrators. Recent graduates or even textile designers or fine artists whose work could be re imagined as a picture book or non fiction. Counting Lions (see cover below) is a good example.

My highlights here included the relaunch of Frances Lincoln Children's books and art directing the award winning illustrated picture book for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2016 (The Bear and the Piano by David litchfield) . Also having another book 'The Crows Tale' by Naomi Howarth shortlisted the same year. both debut illustrators/authors. Last Year I worked with Jackie Morris on her Carneigie Shortlisted book 'Something About A Bear'

Carlton Publishing

Sep, 2011 — Sep, 2013 (about 2 years)

Managing a busy children's books list. Working with clients such as Disney, Ardman and Fox. Creating and commissioning in-house novelty, non-fiction and picture books. Also designed a range of Virtual Reality books.

Walker Books

Jul, 2005 — Sep, 2011 (about 6 years)

Designing novelty books, picture books and young fiction covers, commissioning paper engineers, illustrators.


Set your spirit of adventure free with this lavishly illustrated trip around the world. Whether you're visiting the penguins of Antarctica, joining the Carnival in Brazil or a canoe safari down the Zambezi River, this book brings together more than 100 activit... read more
Nature's Day

Kay Maguire

One Thousand Things
Grandad's Secret Giant

David Litchfield

The Bear and the Piano

David Litchfield

One day, a young bear stumbles upon something he has never seen before in the forest. As time passes, he teaches himself how to play the strange instrument, and eventually the beautiful sounds are heard by a father and son who are picnicking in the woods. The ... read more

Andrew has 1 review





karine A.

karine A.

Jun, 2022

Working with Andrew was a pleasure from start to finish. He is highly creative and experienced, with great communication and willingness to explain every step of the process, as this was my first children's book. I would absolutely recommend him and hope to work with him again in the future.

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