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Book Illustration

V&A Illustration Awards 2013: Published Category - Book Illustration

Laëtitia Devernay illustration to The Conductor. Book and Overall winner 2012.

Supported by the Enid Linder Foundation

Book Illustration and Overall Winner 2012
Laëtitia Devernay, illustrations to ‘The Conductor’ by Laëtitia Devernay

Published by Chronicle Books, London, 2011

Laëtitia Devernay is a French artist who trained in Strasbourg, and at the École nationale supérieure des arts appliqués Olivier de Serres in Paris. She works as a graphic designer and teaches illustration to children. ‘The Conductor’ is her first book, she weaves a wordless story of a fantastical conductor who summons leaves from the trees, directing them to take flight as a flock of birds that swoops in formation above his head. In explaining how she created it she says,

‘I wanted to make the Conductor a silent hero. What does he do when he is away from his musicians? How does he find inspiration? Like me, he looks to nature. To create a living forest I thought about the imagery of music; the strings, the scrolls, the bow tie and swallow tailed suit. The horizontality of the score became the verticality of the trees, sheets turned into feathers, birds into notes. I used pure imagery to tell my story so that it is open to the interpretation of the reader. I also think it's nice to represent music with a totally wordless illustrated book.

I haven’t represented a piece in particular but an air in general. A swarm of birds announces the moves of violins, a unique row in a desert sky represents an oboe soloist…an entire symphony…then, silence, while the small conductor takes a bow. It’s a story that can be read over and over, as in nature, everything changes, but the cycle continues.’

Judge Emma Freud said, ‘Beautiful and meticulously executed – a work of art.’ and Orla Kiely agreed, ‘What a lovely book! It comes alive with her beautiful drawings.’

Laëtitia Devernay’s blog: chat-terton.over-blog.com


Book Illustration Shortlisted Entrants

Cathy MacLennan, Bunny Bunny Catkin (Boxer Books)
‘Children would love it.’ - Orla Kiely.

Rob Ryan, A Sky Full of Kindness (Hodder & Soughton)
‘Unique, emotional, inspiring, brilliant. I adore this.’ - Emma Freud