Mon 26 Dec 2022

Sarah J Docker the Artist

Sarah J Docker designed and created our beautiful image for The Borrowers, our 2022 Christmas Production. We caught up with her and asked a few questions about her creative world.

We asked What made you want to do the illustration for The Borrowers?

I have worked with TBTL in the past on a Christmas production poster for Tom’s Midnight Garden, and loved the creative process, the collaboration and the ideas put forward by the team. A lot of creative freedom is given too, and both productions have been stories that I am personally fond of and grew up with.

Did you know about the Borrowers before this, where had you ‘met them’ before?

Yes! I remember watching the 1997 movie when I was a kid and marvelling over all of the little details, the magic of the Borrowers and wondering if they were real. I remember losing things and mum suggesting that maybe the Borrowers had taken them (of course!). I’m a huge Ghibli fan, for the beautiful art and whimsical stories, and one of my favourite movies by Ghibli is Arrietty, loosely based on the Borrowers. It’s such a comfort and my favourite part is the massive raindrops that crash around the little people when it rains. The idea of humans living in a dolls house is just magical too.

What was the creative process that you went through in creating the image?

I was given a brief by Rachel, who creatively directed a lot of the visual feel and details such as Arrietty’s outfit, the era, even what kind of grate she might be stepping out of. I was given lots of freedom to play with her outfit, her character design and also giving the image a festive feel. I used reference for a Victorian style grate and took a peek through lots of outfits from the 50’s to get a feel of the style. My favourite part was emphasising scale, so the knits in her arm warmers, the stitching on her bag, the details on her dress. It’s not often that I get to play with scale like this in my work so this was one of my favourite parts!

I used to draw a lot of fairies when I was a kid, and pick flower heads thinking about which would work best as a fairy dress and how they would put them on, so this brief felt very familiar and was a fun exploration of my inner Borrower and inner child.

I sketched up some thumbnail sketches and compositions, then developed from there into sketches and character poses, colour ideas, then developed from there into the final image to paint. I sometimes share processes and tips for how to paint on my Instagram @sarahjdocker.


How does it feel to have your illustration creation on posters, flyers and on the front of TBTL?

I’ve never seen my work so big, which was surprise! I’m just so happy that all of the little details came out, and it’s been exciting seeing it pop up all over the Lakes. My friend sent me a voice note the other day letting me know that he was following a bus with my Borrowers artwork on, which was exciting! I grew up in the Lake District, so the thought of my work making the rounds of our towns and villages felt very special.


If you’d like to follow my work, you can find me active on socials with the username @sarahjdocker. My portfolio is here: and you can drop me a line at for any creative.

See Gallery below for some of Sarah’s other work.