V&A Illustration Awards

October 22nd, 2014 by Special Projects

The closing date: 9th December 2014

Entries are now being accepted for the 2015 V&A Illustration Awards competition.  These can be submitted here

2014 Winner - Joys of Creativity by AOI Member Helen Musslewhite

2014 Winner - Joys of Creativity by AOI Member Helen Musslewhite

If you entered the competition last year you should have a user name and password.  There is a facility to create a new password if you cannot remember your existing one.  If you cannot remember your existing user name just create a completely new account.

The closing date for entries is 9th December 2014 and online entries only will be accepted.  You may submit as many publications as you wish  - there is no entry cost. A shortlist will be drawn up by V&A judges in February 2015 with final decisions on winners taking place in April 2015 based on the actual printed versions of the publications. Final winners will be announced on 18th May 2015.

Individual books can now be entered for both the Best Book Cover and Best Illustrated Book categories if they fit the criteria.

There are three categories for published illustration: Book Cover, Book Illustration and Editorial (newspapers and magazines).

The winner in each of these receives £2,000 and a trophy. The judges also select an overall winner who receives an additional £2,000. Winners may also be commissioned to produce publicity artwork for the Museum.

There is one student category.

The student illustrator of the year receives £2,000 and a trophy. The student runner up receives £1,000.

Thinking Visually for Illustrators – book review

October 22nd, 2014 by Special Projects

By Mark Wigan

Published by Fairchild  ISBN: 9781472530448

Review by Juliet Harris


This second edition of Basics Illustration: Thinking Visually for Illustrators by Mark Wigan, is ideal for visual arts students, who are looking for a comprehensive and innovative introduction to the subject of illustration.

The six chapters of the book are constructed to progress through discussing the building blocks of illustration to its wide range of uses. The book evolves to discuss the final outcomes of studying this subject, such as a career as an illustrator, with industry insights from practising illustrators.

The first chapter ‘Getting Started’ works particularly well in encouraging originality, experimentation and research, which seems important in an industry saturated with imagery for aspiring illustrators to absorb. The book argues that ‘the profession of illustration needs more innovators and less imitators’, which seems like a good place for anyone looking for a career as an visual artist to start.


Chapter Four  ‘ Types of illustration’ concentrates on the applications of illustration, including less commercial contexts such as social commentary and underground urban street art. I see this as an attempt to broaden the readers’ view on visual art and introduce them to new fields of interest. The chapter is peppered with quotes that further promote the importance of originality within artists practice, and suggestions that ‘one cannot create an art that speaks to men when one has nothing to say’. (André Malraux, Man’s Hope, 1938)


The book concludes with a series of projects for the reader to try, which are taken from the subjects covered in previous chapters. This is a novel approach to engage the reader in the book’s ideas, by encouraging them to carry out experimental tasks. An example is Project 16, whereby the reader is asked to create a self-portrait in a historical context, whilst considering the visual language and social issues of the chosen time. This project epitomises the core values of Thinking Visually for Illustrators which involve strong research, being open to try new things and above all, thinking outside the box.


Other reviews you may like:

Illustration: Meeting the Brief

Becoming a Successful Illustrator

Paddington: Illustrated and Animated

October 21st, 2014 by Special Projects

Paddington House of Illustration

2 Granary Square, King’s Cross, London. N1C 4BH

Saturday 18 October 2014 – Sunday 4 January 2015

Opening times 10am until 6pm

In the run-up to the launch of the first Paddington movie on Friday 28 November, the new South Gallery exhibition explores how different illustrators and animators have interpreted Michael Bond’s much-loved bear.

Paddington: Illustrated and Animated brings together a selection of artwork from over 50 years of Paddington, from original drawings by Peggy Fortnum, Fred Banbery, David McKee and R.W. Alley, to clips from Ivor Wood’s 1970s stop motion Paddington TV show and material from the new Paddington movie.

Man meets Woman – book review

October 17th, 2014 by Special Projects

By Yang Liu

Published by Taschen ISSN 3836553988

Review by Derek Brazell


Leafing through Man Meets Woman, where each spread offers the sexes different takes on various viewpoints, you realise that your preconceptions are being challenged. You find yourself wondering if the differences between women and men are pre-determined, cultural, or just constructs that are willingly absorbed by each generation, with a few subtle variations which ebb and flow with each passing decade.


In age where conservative views of gender are seemingly becoming more entrenched, there’s an emphasis on the comparison between the two sexes doing or achieving the same thing, but being viewed and judged differently. Surely a successful man has always had great ideas to get himself to an enviable position? But has a successful woman been either strategically shagging someone, will never find love, or someone who has given up the option of having children? Lui’s pictograms raise these points, through simple colour coded images, with the graphic approach making her points very readable as the reader is presented with ‘men’s’ views on the left and ‘women’s’ on the right.


Are these observations on the sexes truisms, or a reinforcement of gender clichés? Readers have to make their own minds up, but the juxtapositions of male and female reactions raise a smile and wry acknowledgement that this is how many people act and (appear to) think.


Both men and women will find themselves agreeing and disputing Lui’s presentations of gender characteristics, but dipping through Man Meets Woman will give both sexes amusement as well as a pause for thought.

Yeah, for a start, where are the depictions of the men who love art?!

You may also be interested in these book reviews

100 Illustrators

Exceptions to Copyright 2014 – what they mean

October 17th, 2014 by Special Projects


Copyright exceptions have recently been brought into law as Government did not consider that copyright laws were ‘fit for the digital age’, and they wanted to find ‘a balance between the interests of rights holders, creators, consumers and users’. Copyright is the right to reproduce/copy a work, and exists as soon as the work has been created. The copyright exceptions mean that illustrators’ work may be used without permission under certain conditions for ‘quotation’, ‘parody’, private copying’ and more. Exceptions existed before, but the new or revised ones are more wide ranging.

AOI responded to the Government’s consultation on Exceptions in 2013, which preceded this legislation, saying that the proposed exceptions were likely to create uncertainty due to the lack of definitions in the proposed legislation. The exceptions may not be overridden by contract law, so a contract will not be able to prevent them, and this may cause issues for exclusive contracts if artwork is used under an exception when an illustrator has guaranteed exclusive use to their client.

To see what the exceptions mean go to AOI Campaigning News

The exceptions to copyright are for ‘research and private study’, ‘text and data- mining’, ‘education and teaching’, ‘archiving and preservation’, ‘public administration’, ‘personal copies for private use’, ‘caricature, parody and pastiche’, ‘quotation’ and to permit ‘accessible formats for disabled people’.

Illustration by Juliet Harris

William Grill Talk at the AOI Awards Exhibition

October 17th, 2014 by Special Projects


This afternoon William Grill gave a talk to a gathered crowd at the exhibition gallery in Somerset House about the process, thinking and inspiration behind his non-fiction picture book Shackleton’s Journey, published by Flying Eye Books (an imprint of Nobrow Press). William’s illustrations for Shackleton’s Journey won the AOI Award for Picture Books in the New Talent category this year, and those there for the talk were lucky enough to get a chance to flick through several of William’s sketchbooks and a vast amount of original work for the book.


As he spread out the developmental work for Shackleton’s Journey, William discussed his process when creating the illustrations, talking the audience through his roughs, character designs, thumbnail ideas and some of the final images. He stressed the importance of keeping sketchbooks, saying “You have to make loads of bad drawings to get any good ones” and mentioned that only about 3% of the displayed drawings for Shackleton’s Journey actually made it into the book. When asked about the feedback and reactions to the book, William stated that having some of the relations of the crew members from the actual voyage get in contact with him has been one of the highlights.

You can read more about William’s practice in Varoom 27: The Hermenauts issue, available to purchase here.

William’s work will be on show at Somerset House until 2 November.

Caroline Watson and Female Printmaking in Late Georgian England

October 17th, 2014 by Special Projects


Charrington Print Room (16), The Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1RB

Tuesday 23 September – Sunday 4 January 2015

Opening Times Tuesday – Saturday 10am until 5pm, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays  12pm until 5pm. Closed 24-26 and 31 December, 1 January.

Caroline Watson was one of the most successful engravers of her age, with patrons including Queen Charlotte. A selection of her prints and several of her letters will be displayed alongside examples of other female printmakers in late Georgian England at The Fitzwilliam Museum. For the first time light will be shed on these largely unknown female artists.

Although Watson was the daughter of celebrated mezzotint printmaker, she was an early adopter of the new ‘stipple technique’, which was ideal for producing delicate portraits and decorative prints, many of which were aimed at female buyers. Nearly all those women who had earlier made prints were either making prints for amusement, or members of printmakers’ families. Watson made her mark creating prints catering to feminine taste, capitalising on the growing market of women with money to spend on luxury items.

Transcripts of her letters in the Museum’s collection are being published in the accompanying exhibition catalogue. They read like a Jane Austen novel; her personal relationships, everyday annoyances and triumphs are written in careful prose in letters revealing her working secrets.

Heretic’s ‘Spectral Nation’ Exhibition

October 17th, 2014 by Special Projects


Beach London, 20 Cheshire Street, London, E2 6EH

Until Sunday 2 November

Opening Times Tuesday – Saturday 10am until 6pm

Hackney based illustration, design and screen printing studio Heretic presents Spectral Nation, a forward-thinking exploration of colour, texture and pattern. The exhibition will showcase selected prints from the on-going project.

The Art of Shaun Tan Exhibition

October 17th, 2014 by Special Projects

Illustration Cupboard, 22 Bury St, London, SW1Y 6AL

until 18 October 2014

Review by Juliet Harris


I would greatly recommend any fan of Australian illustrator Shaun Tan, or anybody with an interest in illustration, to visit the artist’s exhibition at the Illustration Cupboard before it closes on the 18th October 2014.


The exhibition shows a new collection of personal projects, such as the Head Series and original artwork from his various published projects. This is a unique opportunity to see Shaun Tan’s masterful use of mark making and colour, up close and at full scale. In this context the viewer can gain further appreciation of the skill and beauty of Tan’s pastel work.


My personal favourites in the show are the sculptural pieces, as I have not seen Tan’s work in this format before. The playful and surreal characters translate flawlessly into three dimensional pieces, creating a new platform for the artist’s work. These works are part of collaborative project with Phillip Pullman to illustrate Grimms Fairy Tales. For me it serves as an advocate for experimentation and the ongoing pursuit of evolving and pushing illustration to new limits.

Hogarth’s London Exhibition

October 16th, 2014 by Special Projects


The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London, WC1A 2HH

Wednesday 22 October – Sunday 18 January 2015

Opening Times Monday – Saturday 10.30am until 17.30pm, Sunday 12pm until 17.30pm. Closed from 25 Dec 2014 until 01 Jan 2015

For over thirty years, in his paintings and engravings William Hogarth (1697-1764) captured the highs and especially the lows of life in London. Hogarth’s acute observations of the human condition were played out on the streets where he was born, lived, worked and died, and they have placed an indelible stamp on the way we imagine Georgian London. Hogarth’s striking compositions and eye for the telling detail capture the vitality and suffering of the lower orders and the pretensions of the aspiring middle classes.

This exhibition of fifty of the artist’s best-known London prints marks the 250th anniversary of his death and invites the public to look more closely at the original pictures and discover a London which is sometimes horrifying, but always fascinating.