Clair Lansley – Children’s Book Designer

What is your specialism within book publishing? 

For the last 20 years I have specialised in designing children’s books – mainly illustrated fiction – but in the last year have expanded my repertoire to illustrated picture books and adult titles, designing covers and insides from scratch providing full briefs to illustrators when required.


Can you describe what you do in 10 words or fewer?

I make words and pictures come alive to create books.


What led you to go freelance? 

I actually started out as a freelancer (for Random House) in 1991 because that’s what they needed at the time. Since then I have had a couple of full time roles but being freelance gives me the flexibility I need to work full time and be a parent.


Do you work primarily for publishing companies or independent authors or a mix? 

I mainly work for publishing companies, but over the years I have designed a few one-off titles for independent authors or for charities.


What’s the best part of doing what you do?

I love the whole process of taking someone’s words and ideas and bringing them to life through design. I also am lucky to work with incredibly talented writers, illustrators and editors.


What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started your freelance journey? 

Nothing really. I have had and am still having, an amazing career and I feel very lucky to be able to do what I do. Going to work has never been a chore.


How many books are in your TBR (to be read) pile/list? And do you plan to read them all eventually? 

Only one at the moment. A past colleague of mine (Nigel Baines) has written a book called Afloat which I will start reading very soon as it is about a subject that is close to my heart.


Do you prefer physical books or ebooks?

I am definitely in the ‘physical books’ camp. You cannot beat holding an actual book and turning the pages. It is so much more satisfying than reading on a screen. Especially for children’s books.


Do you have any advice for anyone considering a career in publishing? 

Publishing is an amazing industry to work in. The people are great and they all have the same passion – books. I would say it is a very rewarding industry to work in, whatever department you work in.


What is your favourite children’s book and your favourite adult’s book? 

Hmmm … that’s a very hard one to answer as I don’t have just one.  As a child I was always reading – either something by Enid Blyton or C.S. Lewis.

As an adult reading to my children, I loved A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson and Tanka Tanka Skunk by Steve Webb. 

As an adult I was addicted to all the Harry Potter books , and really enjoyed The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

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