Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Gingerbread Sweetheart Grace Sandford Plus a Sweet Deal!

Grace Sandford's illustration work is like a visual candyland. I'm not just saying that because she has some beautiful pictures of a candy world (though that may have influenced my word choice). All of her work is pretty enough to eat. If I did eat her work I would probably eat the pictures of gingerbread characters first. Unfortunately, Grace isn't here to talk about us eating her work. Excuse me, I'm going to go get some candy while you read this post.

Grace Sandford has so graciously offered a discount in her Etsy shop now through November 1st. The code is: SMARTDUMMIES16 

Grace's Etsy shop:

The Author/Illustrator Collaboration

It’s been nearly a year since publication and my first ever picture book was a collaboration with Children’s and YA Author Kate Louise/Ormand called Tough Cookie. Tough Cookie is about a gingerbread man who was accidentally baked without ginger and causes lots of trouble in the bakery because of this.

Working with Kate is still one of my favourite jobs to date and I wanted to talk about the differences between illustrating other people’s work than your own.

Personally, I prefer illustrating other people’s work to my own stories. It feels like a challenge interpreting an author’s work with your own unique style. You can choose certain themes or imagery to pick up on that they might not have even considered themselves and you can really play with the relationship between pictures and words. When two people collaborate on a story it seems to evolve it to another level. For example, I deliberately made sure to hide most of the baker including his face to emphasise that the story is about the gingerbread man so the reader is to see the story through his smaller perspective. This was something I learned from TV shows when growing up such as ‘Cow and Chicken’ and ‘Mrs Bellum’ from the ‘Powerpuff Girls’ in which children were often at adult’s leg or waist height and therefore at a lower plane of sight.

When working on Tough Cookie, I showed my roughs to not only our editor but to Kate as well so she had an idea as to how her story was looking. I personally would be going crazy if I couldn’t see those things so I wanted to show her! Not only that, it developed a discussion between us about small details we could add or change or things that we wanted to see more of.

Another positive aspect of working as a collaboration, especially with Kate is how fun it is to promote the book together. Kate is very good at promoting her own work on Social Media anyways and so it worked really well between us, giving several interviews and creating work sheets that can be taken from both of our websites for children to use. Beforehand I thought it was publishers that were largely in charge of promoting books but the longer i’ve spent working as an illustrator i’ve learnt how many hats you have to wear! The more you do to promote your work, the more chances people will see it and therefore might read it/buy it.

The best part of working with another author is that you have someone else to enjoy the moments with. You can both smile when you see that children are reading your book and reading the reviews together. Sometimes working as an illustrator can feel quite lonely, so its certainly more fun working with other people!

Tough Cookie is published by Sky Pony Press and is available on Amazon:

Grace Sandford is a freelance children’s illustrator and author from England. She graduated with a degree in illustration from the University of Lincoln in 2013 and has worked for publishers globally ever since. Grace has worked on colouring books, picture books, chapter books and children’s magazines for various publishers. Her first author/illustrator book ‘The Egg’ was published earlier this year in the UK.

When not working, you can find Grace listening to Bowie and hugging cats.

Follow Grace:






  1. I agree, Grace, that collaboration is the best. I often think that I would rather have someone else illustrate my stories for all the same wonderful reasons you mentioned.

  2. Hi David, i'm glad you agree! It feels better sharing the journey of publishing with other people, it can definitely be more inspiring. Thank you for reading.

  3. Super cute drawings! I like the idea to show only parts of what is secondary. Something to remember. I wish you great collaborations in the future!

  4. Oh, that is delicious art! :D Thanks for the interesting behind the scenes look at how a collaboration works in making a PB!

  5. Sounded like a fun project! Great story, lively illustrations. Thanks for sharing your images and thoughts.