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Student Illustration

V&A Illustration Awards 2014: Student Category - Student Illustrator

Student Illustrator of the Year

Grace Russell, 'The Wild Places’

University of Westminster

These illustrations, based on selected scenes from Robert MacFarlane’s book The Wild Places, were inspired by the philosophy that an environment is made up not just from its aesthetic and physical presence but also one's own journey, memories, experiences and physical and emotional responses.

Russell enjoys hidden meanings and reading between the lines and tries to bring this to her work. Rather than analytical representations, she endeavours to create a sense of mood or feeling, hinting at underlying themes and provoking the audience to ask questions. Disparate abstract and figurative painted pieces are collaged together to feed off one another and then worked into with charcoal or more paint.

The judges commented that Russell’s media, texture, colour and form is both playful and controlled, creating evocative imagery. They felt her illustrations show a strong compositional sense, willingness to experiment and a unique visual language.

Student Runner-Up

Vivian Chan, ‘London Fashion Scout AW13

Kingston University

Vivien Chan spent five days working on location at the fashion showcase, London Fashion Scout. She was given access to the catwalk and backstage, quickly discovering that it was essential to work at speed. Sometimes drawing for thirteen hours a day, Chan says the whole experience was extremely intensive, but resulted in seventy drawings which she submitted as a self-directed university project.

In order to capture the energy of the event, Chan used strong mark-making materials, such as paint pens. For colour, she added oil pastel or coloured pencil. She feels that the ‘Phoebe English’ piece in particular successfully conveys the dark, electric, angular atmosphere of the show. 

The judges found in Chan’s work the effectiveness of reportage as a form of illustration with a sureness and sparseness which conveys the vitality of the occasion. They were particularly impressed with the scale of the project and Chan's commitment to documenting the subject.

Shortlisted Student Entries

Melissa Sinclair - Lars and the Real Girl

Melissa's depiction of a relationship that exists outside the norm is poignant and, at times, darkly humorous. Closely observed body language makes way for unsettling compositions and her sensitive use of watercolour seems appropriate in depicting the fragility of the mental state of the main characters.

Keith Hau – The River

Keith's lino cut was an ambitious and well executed project. We were impressed by the combination of craftsmanship, composition and complex storytelling, resulting in a striking visual tableau.

Rachael Edwards - Mythical Creatures

Rachael's creatures are unique, playful and full of life. They draw on traditions of storytelling and myth making from many sources whilst taking on a mythology all of their own. The realisation of the project in 2D and 3D and the mix of media was accomplished, creating an absorbing illustrated world.


The V&A Illustration Awards is supported by the Enid Linder Foundation