Finding the perfect artist for a project is one of the trickiest but most rewarding parts of creating a book–or, in this case, a deck of cards! And Mindful Kids is no ordinary publishing project. A typical picture book has 32 pages of artwork. By comparison, each of the 50 cards in this deck is lavishly illustrated with a detailed scene on the front, and several smaller pieces of artwork illustrating different steps of each activity on the back—not to mention the colorful, hand-created design elements that make this deck both beautiful and easy to use. Overall, Mindful Kids contains over 200 separate pieces of artwork!

Barefoot Books Mindful Kids Card Deck

When searching for an illustrator for this project, we knew we needed an expert at drawing facial expressions and complex postures. We were also looking for a connoisseur of pattern and texture, since it wouldn’t be a Barefoot product without that level of attention to gorgeous detail. Finally, we wanted a fresh, fun, and quirky style, to keep the cards feeling young and engaging.

Our co-founder and (now retired) editor-in-chief Tessa Strickland initially discovered Mina Braun’s work at a gallery in Edinburgh. When we looked through her portfolio, we were captivated by her bold palette and the sophisticated yet whimsical style of her prints and illustrations.

Once we signed a contract with Mina, we sent her the text for the cards, a description of the design elements we wanted to include (such as the decorative borders and color-coded corner elements), reference photos for some of the trickier poses, and specific instructions for sketching out the cast of characters.

Mina writes:

Barefoot Books | Mindful KidsMy work-process usually begins with plenty of pencils and a large sketchbook. Here I bring to paper anything that comes to my mind about the brief. I really enjoy this first stage of sketching ideas.

When starting with Mindful Kids, I drew lots of quick little doodles whilst working my way through the script. To me, those first ideas tend to be the strongest ones and in this case, most of them became the actual illustrations later on.

After deciding for a color scheme together with the production team of Mindful Kids, as well as creating a set of eight different characters for the card set, I made a rough pencil sketch for each card. Once they were approved, I then made a more detailed version of each rough by hand.

After scanning them in, I then created the final color artwork on the computer, using a digital drawing tablet to work over the drawings. I often use handmade textures and patterns as well, collaging them into the artwork in Photoshop.

Mindful Kids was created from the sunny studio I share with three other artists, which is part of a communal art-space in the heart of Berlin-Neukölln, Germany.

We also worked heavily with Alex Strick and Beth Cox, consultants at Inclusive Minds, to ensure that the artwork reflected our high standards of diversity and inclusivity. For example, we chose to depict one of the characters as a child with spina bifida who uses a wheelchair. Inclusive Minds helped us art-direct realistic and comfortable poses for this child outside of his chair on some cards as well, to combat the stereotype that children who use equipment to move are inseparable from that equipment. They also helped us find reference images for a child-friendly hearing aid for another character.

We’re thrilled that a wide range of children using these cards will be able to see themselves reflected in the illustrations. As you explore these cards with children in your life, I hope you’ll fall in love with Mina’s characters just as we did!

Learn more about Mindful Kids!

Lisa Rosinsky is Senior Editor at Barefoot Books. You can follow her at @LisaRosinsky.

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