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Make Believe Ideas at The Misbourne School

Keen to extend careers across the whole curriculum as part of their overall careers programme, The Misbourne School in Great Missenden worked together with Bucks Skills Hub to deliver a programme from Make Believe Ideas, a children’s book publisher based in Berkhamsted. 

Year 9 GCSE Art and Design students learnt how illustration is used in industry through two visits with the publishing company that inspired students about the world of careers that illustration could kick-start. The first visit was for Make Believe Ideas to present an overview of the industry, explain the publishing process from editorial and design through to production and sales, and set a practical challenge for students to create their own book brief. They returned for a second visit to give feedback on the students’ work.

So enthused were they with the idea, Make Believe sent a team to the school to represent the different key publishing roles: Studio Director Annie Simpson; Account Manager Josie Male; Senior Designer Rosemary Bolt; Senior Editor Holly Lansley. Their one-hour presentation explored the interplay between design and editorial, looking at how text and pictures are initially sketched out and finding out how illustrations are commissioned (from initial brief, draft stages, character development, colour palettes, finishes and printer plotters through to end product). 

The Make Believe team then left The Misbourne students with a choice of four book briefs to complete, each one with additional guidelines: 

  1. Create a cover for a board book with an alphabet or counting theme
  2. Come up with a picture book story idea and create a cover to go with it
  3. Create a box set design for a new idea based on a classic game (e.g. bingo, snakes and ladders, memory, snap etc.)
  4. Design a cover for a book with quiz activity content and a snappy title aimed at tweens

Make Believe Ideas returned six weeks later – and every single student had risen to the challenge! The art teachers had worked with individuals to develop their concepts, encouraging students to look at adding depth to their work by including a message within it. As a result, many had explored themes in their work such as having the confidence to stand out from a crowd or looking at different types of friendship.

They had all gone beyond the brief and included notes on ideas such as the target audience, story development, character introductions and colour palette. Students came up with original typography, incorporated a variety of different finishes and had researched their readership by visiting bookshops or looking at younger siblings’ books.

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