Polka Dots and Book Design: How a Clever Board Book Was Conceptualized, Featuring Artist Morissa Rubin (+ a Giveaway)

Please welcome graphic designer and author/illustrator Morissa Rubin to Frog on a Blog. I absolutely love her clever new board book Dot, Dot, Polka Dot, which features colorful and fun patterns from around the world. Her eye-catching style is so unique, and the illustrations in this book are super engaging and are sure to delight your little ones as they explore 12 different patterns, from the familiar diamond shapes of argyle to the fish-like triangles of Uroko. I wanted to learn how Dot, Dot, Polka Dot was created, so I invited Morissa to give us a close-up look at her process when she designed the book. Let’s take a look!

Dot, Dot, Polka Dot is a concept board book that explores all the different types of fabric patterns found in the patchwork of a child’s quilt. Unlike narrative books that have a built-in storyline, concept books often rely on word and visual structure to carry the story forward.

Dot, Dot, Polka Dot literally came about as I aimlessly dabbed my brush on a page. As multiple dots appeared I mused to myself “dot, dot” and then “dot, dot, polka dot”. From there I thought about making other patterns with loosely painted brush strokes: stripes, plaid, calico, paisley and argyle. It was a then editor at POW! Kids Books, Jordan Nielson, who later encouraged me to explore additional patterns from around the world. Kente cloth, Molas, Batiks and Uroko triangles along with tie-dye were added in a later round of revisions.

The short phrase-like description of the first couple of patterns became the structure for the words throughout the book. The idea that these different patterns could come together to form a quilt only came after I had spent time making and looking at the different patterns. Once I had the quilt idea, I realized that as each pattern was introduced, it’s swatch could be displayed on the next spread, alongside the previously introduced pattern swatches. The repeated swatches helped connect the separate patterns and serve as an inventory of all of the patterns introduced. They help to introduce the moment when the swatches come together to make a quilt. I used a mix of gauche paint and digital tools to create the patterns, assemble pieces, and layer and mix the images.

Thanks for sharing, Morissa! I really like the clever way you were able to “join” all of the different patterns together from page to page, leading so beautifully to the incredible quilt, featuring every pattern, at the end. Folks, this book would make a great gift at holiday time or any time!


Morissa is generously offering a copy of her book Dot, Dot, Polka Dot to one lucky person! All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment on this post by December 10th. I’ll choose a winner at random and connect them with Morissa. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Morissa Rubin is a graphic designer. Her work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sacramento Advertising Club, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and Graphic Design USA. She received her BFA in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design and her MS from MIT’s Visible Language Workshop. She lives in Sacramento, California where she teaches typography and other design courses at UC Davis and Sacramento State University. You can follow her work on Instagram at @morissa.s.childrensbooks.