Sarah Darby

Sarah Darby - Designer

Oxford, UK

Designer, Art Director & Illustrator with 20 years exp. I work on picture books, 5-12+ children's, YA, adult, & women's fiction.

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Overview

Hello! I'm Sarah Darby—a UK-based freelance book designer, art director and illustrator with over nineteen years experience in book publishing. For most of these years I worked in-house at Oxford University Press in the children's book department where I came up with the look and feel of the books, (designed them), and art directed illustrators bringing my original vision to fruition.

Even though I have mainly only ever worked for Oxford University Press, I have also freelanced for David Fickling Books, Studio Press, Bonnier Publishing and Quarto Publishing and many self-published authors writing for the adult market.

I can offer a complete book design service from storyboarding picture books; designing covers and interior layouts & commissioning illustrators; writing artwork briefs for illustrators; designing series identities, designing and producing lettering & logos. Working either independently or by art directing illustrators, my expertise lies in producing well-crafted, creative covers and internal designs on time and within budget.

I am a highly creative individual, passionate about books but when I'm not designing, I am painting or taking photographs.

I would love to hear from you, wherever you are in the world!
Languages
English
Non-Fiction
Children's - Non-fiction
Fiction
Classics
Middle Grade
Picture Books
Young Adult

Certifications

  • BA Honours Degree Fine Art

Work experience

Freelance Book Designer & Art Director

Self-employed
September, 2017 – Present (almost 3 years)

Senior Designer

Oxford University Press
June, 2000 – July, 2019 (about 19 years)

I started out in 2000 when I worked in the Schoolbooks department design team working on a variety of high profile reading schemes for the UK schools market. In 2006 I moved to the Children's Trade design department working across the entire list, designing picture books, illustrated younger fiction and YA teen fiction. During this time, I designed hundreds of titles working with renowned illustrators such as Lauren Child and David Roberts and authors—Tim Bowler, Geraldine McCaughrean and Gillian Cross. I was also heavily involved in developing in-house brands from concept through to finished books.

Portfolio (9 selected works)

The Ordinarily Extraordinary Life of Briony

Purbeck Wintour

Meet Briony Denley...under-appreciated wife, underwhelmed mother, and unchallenged mojito drinker. A move to a new house and an extended lull in her sex life with her workaholic husband leaves Briony Denley pondering new possibilities for her life.Not content with 'making her own sunshine' thanks to the freebies procured by PR pal, Kate, who has just bagged a sex toy account, Briony is left wo... read more

Meet Briony Denley...under-appreciated wife, underwhelmed mother, and unchallenged mojito drinker. A move to a new house and an extended lull in her sex life with her workaholic husband leaves Briony Denley pondering new possibilities for her life.Not content with 'making her own sunshine' thanks to the freebies procured by PR pal, Kate, who has just bagged a sex toy account, Briony is left wo... read more

Where I Belong

Gillian Cross

There are guns and bandits in this story. And supermodels. And there's drought and starvation too. Are you wondering how they can all come together? Well, that's how life is these days. Things don't happen neatly, in separate little places. We're all caught by the great spider's web of media that spans the world. That's where the story is set. The world. It's the story of Abdi and Khadija and ... read more

There are guns and bandits in this story. And supermodels. And there's drought and starvation too. Are you wondering how they can all come together? Well, that's how life is these days. Things don't happen neatly, in separate little places. We're all caught by the great spider's web of media that spans the world. That's where the story is set. The world. It's the story of Abdi and Khadija and ... read more

Teasing Xav

Joss Stirling

Summer Shadows

Joss Stirling

Amongst the secret and lies, will love survive? Summer lives under a terrible shadow. It drains her, manipulates her and threatens to steal her future. A high-stakes mission offers a temporary escape. She must use her mind-shadowing abilities to hunt down her target and find the truth. Hal Robinson is a soldier. He does not get distracted. He wins. But what Hal wants begins to shift once he me... read more

Amongst the secret and lies, will love survive? Summer lives under a terrible shadow. It drains her, manipulates her and threatens to steal her future. A high-stakes mission offers a temporary escape. She must use her mind-shadowing abilities to hunt down her target and find the truth. Hal Robinson is a soldier. He does not get distracted. He wins. But what Hal wants begins to shift once he me... read more

Angel Dares

Joss Stirling

Angel is impulsive. Disguising her savant ability to control water doesn't come easily to her. Then she meets the broodingly handsome Marcus at a music festival where they're both performing, and finds herself all at sea. For when he sings, her soul answers with its own music. Like the tide, their mutual attraction cannot be held back, but Marcus's mistrust of Angel's gift is even stronger. Ho... read more

Angel is impulsive. Disguising her savant ability to control water doesn't come easily to her. Then she meets the broodingly handsome Marcus at a music festival where they're both performing, and finds herself all at sea. For when he sings, her soul answers with its own music. Like the tide, their mutual attraction cannot be held back, but Marcus's mistrust of Angel's gift is even stronger. Ho... read more

Misty Falls

Joss Stirling

Misty is a one-girl disaster zone. Born with a Savant 'gift' that means she can never tell a lie, her compulsive truth-telling gets her into trouble wherever she goes. So when she meets Alex: gorgeous, confident, and impossibly charming, Misty instantly resolves to keep her distance ...Someone so perfect could never be hers, surely? But a dark shadow has fallen across the Savant community. A s... read more

Misty is a one-girl disaster zone. Born with a Savant 'gift' that means she can never tell a lie, her compulsive truth-telling gets her into trouble wherever she goes. So when she meets Alex: gorgeous, confident, and impossibly charming, Misty instantly resolves to keep her distance ...Someone so perfect could never be hers, surely? But a dark shadow has fallen across the Savant community. A s... read more

Trickster

Tom Moorhouse

First a rat must earn his name. Then he must live up to it. This is the story of Gabble, a young rat with a wild, beloved, but unpredictable brother, Ash. At the start of the book Ash tricks Gabble into going out with him on a 'name raid', a dangerous mission to earn a True Name, normally reserved for older rats. Gabble finds himself drawn into a perilous adventure, crossing boundaries, fighti... read more

First a rat must earn his name. Then he must live up to it. This is the story of Gabble, a young rat with a wild, beloved, but unpredictable brother, Ash. At the start of the book Ash tricks Gabble into going out with him on a 'name raid', a dangerous mission to earn a True Name, normally reserved for older rats. Gabble finds himself drawn into a perilous adventure, crossing boundaries, fighti... read more

When The Guns Fall Silent

James Riordan

Jack, standing among the war graves, sees a face he recognizes. Suddenly, it's 1914 again and he's a young lad back in the trenches. Visions of killing and misery come to him with horrible clarity. But then Jack remembers too the incredible moment when the guns fell silent for a short time, and fighting gave way to football on the frozen ground of No-Man's-Land. This amazing story, based on tr... read more

Jack, standing among the war graves, sees a face he recognizes. Suddenly, it's 1914 again and he's a young lad back in the trenches. Visions of killing and misery come to him with horrible clarity. But then Jack remembers too the incredible moment when the guns fell silent for a short time, and fighting gave way to football on the frozen ground of No-Man's-Land. This amazing story, based on tr... read more

Unicorn in New York: Louie Lets Loose!

Rachel Hamilton

In this hilarious new fiction series, Louie the unicorn searches for stardom in New York City. Louie's story is brought to life with a unique visual approach, combining real New York photography with funny character illustrations. 'Dear Ma and Pa, The New York School for Performing Arts is the perfect place for a unicorn like me. So far it has been totally AWESOME! Madame Twirler says that 'pi... read more

In this hilarious new fiction series, Louie the unicorn searches for stardom in New York City. Louie's story is brought to life with a unique visual approach, combining real New York photography with funny character illustrations. 'Dear Ma and Pa, The New York School for Performing Arts is the perfect place for a unicorn like me. So far it has been totally AWESOME! Madame Twirler says that 'pi... read more

Sarah has 4 reviews

Professionalism
Professionalism
Quality
Quality
Value
Value
Communication & Punctuality
Communication & Punctuality

Gwen Manfrin
Sarah is a very gifted designer. Her mixture of fonts that fit the theme of the book and colors, resulted in covers that would surely pull the correct age group in and make them reach for the book!She was on time and always responding quickly to minor revisions.

Gwen Manfrin, May 2020


Miran Kocmur
Creative, professional, great communicator. Both thumbs up for Sarah! Miran, author

Miran Kocmur, April 2020


P A
Sarah makes beautiful covers. She was prompt and professional with her replies and it was a pleasure to work with her. She came up with great options and has a wonder eye for design.

P A, April 2020

Sarah Darby
It was a real pleasure to work with you once again and continue designing the series of Merlin Raj!

Reply from Sarah Darby


P A
Sarah was prompt, thoughtful, and has a beautiful eye for design. She was very easy to work with and the cover she designed not only looks amazing--it also nails the marketplace!

P A, March 2020

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