Sara Chadwick-Holmes

Sara Chadwick-Holmes – Designer

Cheery, charming & creative book designer, illustrator & lettering artist. 19 yrs experience in children's book publishing


I'm a calm, confident book designer, with over 19 years of experience working in publishing, for the best in the business: Puffin, Random House Children's, and Hodder. My work has featured in Puffin By Design and Design Week.

At Puffin, I created some really strong brand looks for such authors as Cathy Cassidy and Sarah Dessen, among others. My natural genre is quality commercial fiction. My particular talent is to give book covers a design edge that prevent over-sweetness in an often sugary category. As well as this genre, I love working on both series fiction and standalone literary titles, and also designing integrated inside layouts.

I am well used to project management, commissioning illustrators and photographers, and generally keeping a project motivated and on track.

I am excellent at hand-lettering and illustration. I even iced the illustrations onto the chocolates on those Cathy Cassidy books above. (There's a tutorial I give about that on Cathy's YouTube channel if you're keen to try this at home)

Since becoming freelance I have rebuilt a near-derelict house (my people skills & project management skills were used, tested, and improved!) & worked with David Fickling Books, Bloomsbury, Penguin Random House & Waitrose on their Robin's Journey Christmas advert tie-ins. I like working with existing artwork or within a style guide to create marketing material, web ads, activity books etc, and somewhere along the line I developed a great talent for writing catchy strap lines.

In addition I also design bespoke wedding stationery, most recently a Willy Wonka style gold foil golden ticket which was sent to guests inside a real chocolate bar.

I find that communication is key to my having a successful relationship with my clients. A book cover or a wedding invitation can evolve and grow out of one simple holiday snap, a shop window, a vibe, and by communicating effectively and with genuine interest and empathy means really getting to know what my client wants, which makes this a fun, rewarding process for all involved.

I live in the vibrant, creative city of Bristol and have a fabulously decadent studio in my home which I share with an antique stuffed peacock, a stuffed puffin (my leaving present!), a Victorian rocking horse and a massive halloween cat that wonders why it's so crowded in there.

Please note, I do not check in on weekends.
Children’s Non-Fiction
Classics Middle Grade Picture Books Women's Fiction Young Adult
  • BA (Hons) Graphic Design & Illustration

Work experience


May, 2015 — Present

Since moving out of London to Bristol, which is a very creative city, I run a one-stop-shop for really great design, Illustration and lettering. This has been varied and interesting, including my 'usual' job in publishing, and also couples getting hitched and wanting some really special invitations, a theatre company promoting their latest show, and local businesses that needed a logo refresh, or chalkboards painting for an event or a menu. I enjoy variety and like to keep life interesting so am looking forward to some festival and wedding sign-painting coming up over the summer, some more wedding stationery, and more books too.

I'm organised, reliable, easy going and super creative. I'm an instinctive, intuitive people person, and great at getting to the nub of what it is my clients want, so we all arrive at a great end result in a cheerful, stress-free manner. I'm not an overly precious, throw my toys out of the pram type of designer, which I think is a good thing!

Puffin Books

May, 2006 — Apr, 2015 (almost 9 years)

In my time at Puffin I worked across the fiction list, covering every genre and working closely with the Marketing, Editorial and Production teams to ensure a great cover that was appropriate and enticing for every book. I liaise closely with my authors, I know that an author has a very strong vision and a lot of deep feelings about their project, which I am very respectful of and work hard to gain trust and understanding between us.

When I created the successful brand for Cathy Cassidy, I worked very closely with her, meeting whenever we could, chatting by phone, and email, generally ensuring she felt happy and that she was in the loop at all times. This created a close author/designer bond over the years. At the other end of the commercial fiction spectrum I developed a strong brand for Chris Bradford who is a very dynamic sword-wielding author who has a clear vision for his books and very specific ideas, which I was able to collate, formulate into images, and turn into a series look we are all excited by. And in both of these author cases I am proud to say we are still friends!

I am happy managing a brand or creating an individual standalone cover design, from a young early reader to crossover teen fiction, or young adult/adult fiction. I have worked over the years with many illustrators and photographers, and have sourced brilliant library images to achieve the right look for the book I am designing, and I feel my good communication skills and being a natural people-person makes me an ideal designer to have on your team.

Also, I was on the judging panel for the entries for the Penguin Design Award, a student competition, and would mentor the winning student during their time in-house at Puffin HQ.


Blue Like Friday

Siobhán Parkinson

To Hal, Fridays are blue, and tangy, like blue lemon sherbert. Olivia thinks he's crazy. Friday is just Friday, isn't it? Olivia is pretty sure that Hal's mysterious plan to get rid of his not-quite-stepfather, Alec, is even weirder. But things don't go quite ... read more
After the amazing twist at the end of Sweet Honey, the sixth and final book in Cathy Cassidy's Chocolate Box Girls series follows Jake, the Tanberry sisters' newly discovered half-brother...Jake Cooke has just had the surprise of his life. He's got four half-s... read more
The Outsiders by S E Hinton is a ground-breaking, timeless story by a brilliant writer. '...the hand at the back of my neck was strong. I'm drowning, I thought ...' The Socs' idea of having a good time is beating up Greasers like Ponyboy. Ponyboy knows what to... read more
Delilah Darling - Queen Delilah from the Land of Far, Far Away to you - is desperate to play the part of the gingerbread man in the school play. So when Horrible Charlotte Griggs gets the part instead, Delilah is cross. But she soon discovers that there's lots... read more
A funny fantasy-adventure series for fans of LEMONY SNICKET, NEIL GAIMAN, and CRESSIDA COWELLWhat do you do when you survive a pirate kidnapping, a milk-drinking contest with a giant grizzly bear, and a stint inside the belly of a whale? If you’re Mabel Jones,... read more
Hammy: the cleverest hamster the world has ever seen! Bethany is thrilled with her fluffed-up furry new pet and can't wait to get him home. But there's something different about Hammy, something very special. Not only is he super cute, he's got amazing brains ... read more
Another delicious book in the Chocolate Box Girls series, a sequel to Cherry Crush, Marshmallow Skye and Summer's Dream, from bestselling girls' favourite, Cathy Cassidy. Coco is the youngest of the Tanberry sisters but she's as headstrong as any of them. Coco... read more

Eve Edwards

Dusk by Eve Edwards is a beautiful love story set against the brutal back drop of WWI. For all fans of Sebastian Faulks and historical romantic fiction - this is Bird Song for Young Adult readers. A love worth fighting for. When Helen, a young hard-working nur... read more
Thirteen-year-old Sassy is a true twenty-first century girl. She's puzzling out the mysteries of parents, boys and why people can't be more like dolphins, and confronting big questions like . . . Can she become a singer-songwriter and save the world too? (More... read more
Queen Delilah Darling from far away land - is off to meet some 'marbellous' animals at the zoo. Her teacher, Mrs Mullet, says whoever wins the zoo quiz wins a prize - but what could it be? Delilah really wants to win but first she has to beat her worst enemy, ... read more
Connie Pickles is fulfilling her destiny. She's in Paris, and she has big plans. She will fall in love with someone other than William. She will find her long lost grandparents. She will become tres chic. But sometimes even destiny doesn't go to plan...Sabine ... read more
Cherry Crush
Looking Glass Girl

Cathy Cassidy

BRAND NEW, perfect condition.
After the amazing twist at the end of Sweet Honey, the sixth and final book in Cathy Cassidy's Chocolate Box Girls series follows Jake, the Tanberry sisters' newly discovered half-brother...Jake Cooke has just had the surprise of his life. He's got four half-s... read more
The Bomber Dog is a gripping and heartwarming story for 9+ readers about a brave puppy who joins the paratroopers during the Second World War and becomes a heroic war dog. Perfect for fans of Michael Morpurgo's War Horse and Lauren St John. GREY is just a pupp... read more
Happy Christmas, Hammy the Wonder Hamster! by Poppy Harris is the perfect Christmas stocking filler. For all fans of Betty G. Birney's Humphrey books and young animal lovers everywhere, this is a funny, charming, and delightfully festive read. The world's clev... read more
Vampire Academy

Richelle Mead

The story that kicked off the international #1 bestselling Vampire Academy series is NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE!St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens trai... read more
August 1611. Jack Fletcher is shipwrecked off the coast of Japan - his beloved father and the crew lie slaughtered by ninja pirates. Rescued by the legendary sword master Masamoto Takeshi, Jack's only hope is to become a samurai warrior. And so his training be... read more
As the world marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the bestselling novel Generals Die in Bed becomes more relevant than ever. Originally published in 1930, the landmark novel was one of the first to shatter the world’s illusion that war is a... read more
The Luxe

Anna Godbersen

Friends Forever: The Mystery Tour Blackouts, gas masks and rationing - the truest friendships are made in the hardest times... Hi, this is Lauren again! My special cat, Saturn, has quite a skill for traveling far, far away, and I don't mean in distance. My bes... read more
Nim's Island

Wendy Orr

Nim's Island
The Pack

Tom Pow


Carl Hiaasen


Sara has 6 reviews





nathalie V.

nathalie V.

Jun, 2021

This designer has many ideas, and like her portfolio demonstrate, does great hand drawn letters.
Amie B.

Amie B.

Dec, 2020

Sara was an absolute joy to work with! From the very start she grasped the vision for the work which made choosing her for the project a no-brainer. Throughout the process, Sara made communication easy, ideas collaborative, and, as a result, the final project exceeded expectations. Without question I would work with Sara again and highly recommend her to anyone looking to collaborate to bring ...
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Sara C.
Why, thank you, Amie! Working with an author like you, who has a clear vision and huge passion for what they are doing made the job a really fun, respectful and satisfying collaboration. I felt ver...
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Susannah M.

Susannah M.

Nov, 2018

Sara was brilliant to work with - responsive and engaged
Matt B.

Matt B.

Oct, 2018

Sara went above and beyond expectations. She was very responsive and we worked close together to get the perfect cover. I couldn't be happier with the result and look forward to working with Sara again in the future.
Sara C.
Matt is a great client to have because while he has a lot of vision and ideas of his own, he is also open to new thoughts, which makes for a collaboration that is mutually rewarding! His book was u...
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Kathleen B.

Kathleen B.

Sep, 2018

Sara is very creative, and extremely talented. I am very pleased with her work.

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