We have launched a new website and are reviewing this page. Find out more
Open daily 10.00 to 17.45 Admission free Menu

Supported by the Enid Linder Foundation

The V&A Illustration Awards celebrate the best illustration published over the last year. Original artwork from the best illustrated book, book cover, editorial illustration and student illustrator of the year are recognised.

Published Category

The 2009 Published Category judges were Miss Patricia Routledge CBE, actress; Lionel Shriver, author and journalist; Phil Cleaver, Creative Director of etal-design, and Mark Jones, Director of the V&A.

Tom Burns, llustration to 'New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster, published by The Folio Society, London, 2008.

Tom Burns, llustration to 'New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster, published by The Folio Society, London, 2008.

Book Illustration Award and Overall Winner

Tom Burns, illustrations to 'New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster

Published by The Folio Society, London, 2008

'I was inspired by the city itself - the iconic imagery related to New York, the vibrancy of day to day life. In fact so much culture and art come from the city it wasn't very hard to find inspiration at all'.

Tom Burns is 2009's Overall Winner for his work for the Folio Society on the very first illustrated edition of New York Trilogy. The judges commented that these illustrations make great use of colour, capturing the city in a very fresh and original way. They felt the images integrate perfectly with the text and manage to evoke a variety of sensations such as loneliness, complicated relationships and a sense of speed.

Burns gained a Masters degree at Kingston University and is based in London. His work embraces the digital process, combining it with the use of photography, paint and print techniques. He now works for a wide range of clients in the UK and USA, notably The Financial Times, The Boston Globe, CNN, John Brown Publishers and The Guardian.

Visit Tom Burns' website


Swava Harasymowicz, cover to Eugene Onegin, by Alexander Pushkin, published by Penguin Books, 2008

Swava Harasymowicz, cover to Eugene Onegin, by Alexander Pushkin, published by Penguin Books, 2008

Book Cover Illustration Award

Swava Harasymowicz, cover to 'Eugene Onegin' by Alexander Pushkin

Published by Penguin Books, 2008

Independent artist Swava Harasymowicz won a Student Prize in the 2005 V&A Illustration Awards and as a result was spotted by Penguin Books who commissioned her to create cover artwork for titles in the Penguin Classics series. This year, her work for Penguin has won her the  V&A Book Cover Award. In addition, she is 2009's  winner of the V&A Editorial Award.

The judges felt that Harasymowicz's cover image for Eugene Onegin cleverly deals with  the reader's aversion to seeing a fixed picture of a character, which they often prefer to imagine for themselves. Although the figure's head is missing from the image, it does not feel in any way incomplete. Harasymowicz describes this work as a 'semi-melodramatic image of a dandy's 'badge of honour''.

Harasymowicz grew up in Krakow, Poland surrounded by its rich variety of architectural styles from early Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, to Modernist and totalitarian Communist structures. She moved to London in 1998 and graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2006. Since then she has collaborated with Krakow Poster Gallery designing non-commercial limited edition posters exhibited in China, Teheran and Warsaw, and worked on selected commissions and publications, such as a graphic novel based on Sigmund Freud's Wolf Man case to be published by Self Made Hero. Her main artistic focus is on her own projects, using drawing, photography and screen printing.


Swava Harasymowicz, illustration to 'Putting Daisy Down' by Jay McInerney, published in Guardian Weekend Magazine, 2008

Swava Harasymowicz, illustration to 'Putting Daisy Down' by Jay McInerney, published in Guardian Weekend Magazine, 2008

Editorial Illustration Award

Swava Harasymowicz, illustration to 'Putting Daisy Down' by Jay McInerney

Published in Guardian Weekend Magazine, 2008

Independent artist Swava Harasymowicz won a Student Prize in the 2005 V&A Illustration Awards and as a result was spotted by Penguin Books who commissioned her to create cover artwork for titles in the Penguin Classics series. This year, she is winner of the V&A Editorial Award. In addition, her work for Penguin has won her 2009's V&A Book Cover Award.

The powerful drawing style and effective use of empty space drew the judges to 'Putting Daisy Down'. They felt that this image conveys a strong sense of narrative  and immediately gives the viewer an idea of what the story is about. Harasymowicz says that her aim for the piece was 'not to crowd the space with decoration, but emotional distance.'

Visit Swava Harasymowicz's website


Student Category

The 2009 Student Category judges were Brett Ryder, illustrator and overall winner of last year's awards, and Paul Gravett, writer, curator and lecturer on international comics.

Lydia Wong, 'Eveything Turns To Gold', digital print.

Lydia Wong, 'Eveything Turns To Gold', digital print.

Student Illustrator Award Winner

Lydia Wong, 'Eveything Turns To Gold'

Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London

My work is composed from collages of digitally manipulated illustrations and photos. It tends to be research driven. Content is pivotal in shaping the moods, themes and imageries I use. I enjoy employing symbolism and metaphorical elements to express the questions and opinions that arise in my investigations. Symbolist painter Odilon Redon and digital artist Ray Ceasar have both had a strong influence on the way I view illustrations in terms of style, content and technique.

'Everything Turns to Gold' explores issues of nationalism and censorship in China. The tiger has become a symbol of enforcement, and in the context of my work gold has also come to describe the fervent, almost blind nationalism shaping today's youth.

My work draws heavily on socialist realism in communist propaganda posters, which in itself is a form of censorship of the lives of the people it paints. I have attempted to recreate surreal and seemingly happy facades, while letting a much eerier and darker context shine through. The artworks' 'plastic-y' feel reflects my feelings of the image China is projecting of itself. I also attempt to parallel Renaissance religious paintings by using multiple human figures to occupy the same space, unified by an event, although upon closer inspection we notice they are mostly dissociated. This also mirrors my feelings that while the Chinese may be bonded together by themes of nationalism, underneath lies a segregated society, each plagued with their own social woes'.

Visit Lydia Wong's website


Kristina Marie Hofmann, 'The Muffled Uproar Of Screams', illustration inspired by 'ICE' by Anna Kavan.

Kristina Marie Hofmann, 'The Muffled Uproar Of Screams', illustration inspired by 'ICE' by Anna Kavan.

Student Illustrator Award Runner-Up

Kristina Marie Hofmann, Illustrations inspired by 'ICE' by Anna Kavan

Royal College of Art, London

'I like to treat a creative problem in a similar way a Detective attempts to solve a case.Identifying the problems, speaking to the people involved, sourcing the materials, piecing the puzzle together and documenting the process thoroughly along the way. This analogy seems appropriate because I am reluctant to be constrained to two dimensions.

I believe that even the clever depiction of a tactile element that we long to touch and feel can heighten our sensibility towards an image, using tactile matter to create printed or moving images has therefore become an essential part of my work.

The inspiration for this series of illustrations came from Anna Kavan's novel Ice. The novel is known to be a literary slipstream, characterized by its ambiguity and nebulous jumps in time and place.

The narrator, a man known as 'the warden', searches for an elusive girl in a frozen apocalyptic landscape. I built a model of this  world, with the characters, the woods and roads, the pylons and ships next to selected words and phrases that particulary grabbed me. Depending on the angle you look at (and photograph) the model, the context - and therefore the image of the scene you are looking at - changes. Every single element was then hand dipped into gloss paint to glue the world together and give it the dark and gloomy feel that captivated me reading the story.

The world Kavan portrays is more and more taken over by an unstoppable mass of Ice that buries everything and everyone. I tried to capture this by placing the model into a huge tank filled with water and slowly freezing it. The more the ice covers the elements, the more unclear and misty the image becomes'.

Private Group Tours & Talks

We offer a wide range of tours to meet your group requirements. Whether a group has a special area of interest, wishes to explore a particular gallery or just get an overview of the Museum's collection the Groups Team can help.

View our Private Group Tours & Talks