Ellen Kokontis

Ellen Kokontis – Designer

Art director with more than ten years of experience in publishing, finding delight in all kinds of book design.


Hello! I am an art director with ten years of experience in children's publishing. My specialization is books for ages 0–18 (board books, picture books, early readers, middle grade, and young adult), but I also have experience in adult nonfiction in the form of cookbook and arts & crafts design. Picture books I have art directed and designed have received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and have been awarded such honors as Junior Library Guild Selections, Sydney Taylor and Kansas Notable Books, and the Southwest Book Award. I also had the great privilege of reinvigorating the Boxcar Children series with new packaging in 2018 as well as designing the logo and packaging for the Jane & Me line with the Jane Goodall Institute launching in 2021. Other brands I have worked with include John Deere Kids, the Smithsonian Institute, PBS KIDS, and CoComelon.

I love playing with the relationship between text and artwork, especially when it comes to picture books. I believe that the words and artwork in a picture book need to do equally heavy lifting in the storytelling. Coming to a project both as an art director as well as with a child's eye is how I try to make each book appealing and engaging to everyone.

When we work together, I am probably going to ask you a lot of questions to get at the heart of your vision. I will also specifically ask you to point out comps in the marketplace that you do and do not like. This exercise helps me get as much information as I can up front so that we can both start on the same page. With cover design, I start with a few thumbnail options, then will work on a rough cover concept that is more realized, and finally the finished cover. You'll have input at each of these stages in steering the design to look the way you envision. I started my career in production and am well versed in all the technical aspects of design, so the file(s) you will receive will be easy to work with and ready for print or web.

I would love to hear about your project and how I can help. I am available for cover and interior design and can also assist with illustration direction. I'm also happy to help design and create images for promoting your books on social media or your website as well as activity sheets or ancillary materials for additional marketing support.
Children’s Non-Fiction Cooking, Food, Wine, & Spirits
Middle Grade Middle Grade Fantasy Picture Books Young Adult
  • 2018 Graphic Design USA In-House Design Award

Work experience

Cottage Door Press

Mar, 2019 — Present

Albert Whitman & Company

Aug, 2014 — Mar, 2019 (over 4 years)

Ellen has 9 reviews





Akilah T.

Akilah T.

Nov, 2021

Awesome and great service as always! I will continue to use Ellen as long as she is available. I trust her to handle my projects.
Akilah T.

Akilah T.

Oct, 2021

Ellen is amazing! I have worked with her a few times and each time has been great. She is extremely thorough and explains the process from start to finish. She is easy to work with and extremely flexible. I hope to work with Ellen every time I have a project if she is available. I trust her creativity and judgement. If you want quality work, in a timely manner, for the value of your money, she ...
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Chloe S.

Chloe S.

Sep, 2021

So wonderful working with Ellen. I look forward to it in the future.
Arnon H.

Arnon H.

Jul, 2021

Ellen Kokontis was a delight to work with. She was always professional, receptive to new ideas, and produced an outstanding end product. I'd recommend Ellen without reservation!
Tamara H.

Tamara H.

May, 2021

Ellen was a dream to work with. She took on my vision and produced a beautiful book with research as my book was unique from those she is used to working on. Very accommodating, responsive, and went above and beyond what I required. If I turn my book into a series, I know I will be turning to Ellen again for her impressive book and cover design skills.

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