Congratulations to our V&A Illustration Awards 2020 Winners


Digital Media
July 20, 2020

The V&A Illustration Awards were established in 1972 and have since become the UK’s most prestigious annual illustration competition. Each year we celebrate excellence in student illustration and three categories of contemporary practice: book cover design, book illustration and illustrated journalism.

From over 800 entries, here we present this year’s winners.

Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year and the Illustrated Journalism Award 2020

Ann Kiernan, ‘How Twitter is gagging Arabic users and acting as morality police’, by Wael Eskandar. Published by Open Democracy

Twitter Jail, illustration by Ann Kiernan
‘Twitter Jail’, illustration by Ann Kiernan for ‘How Twitter is gagging Arabic users and acting as morality police’, by Wael Eskandar. Publisher: Open Democracy. © Ann Kiernan

Kiernan’s winning illustration was commissioned by Open Democracy to accompany an article by Wael Eskandar entitled ‘How Twitter is gagging Arabic users and acting as morality police’. Simple brushstrokes and a spray of red symbolise a Twitter update that has broken free from a pencil drawn cage only to be shot down. The fluidity and drive of her brushstrokes create a sense of urgency that impressed the judges who praised Kiernan’s inventive use of the well-known corporate logo.

Book Cover Award Winner

Eva Eland, When Sadness Comes to Call. Published by Anderson Press

Book cover illustration by Eva Eland for ‘When Sadness Comes to Call’, by Eva Eland
Book cover illustration by Eva Eland for ‘When Sadness Comes to Call’, by Eva Eland. Publisher: Andersen Press. Art direction by Rebecca Garrill. © Eva Eland

Eva Eland’s debut picture book is a poignant yet uplifting look at dealing with a universally felt emotion. An important subject to explore with young readers, the judges admired the soft, non-threatening portrayal of sadness.

Book Illustration Award Winner

Clive Hicks-Jenkins, Hansel and Gretel: A Nightmare in Eight Scenes written by Simon Armitage. Published by Design for Today

Book illustration by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
Book illustration by Clive Hicks-Jenkins for ‘Hansel & Gretel: A Nightmare in Eight Scenes’, by Simon Armitage. Publisher: Design for Today. Art direction by Laurence Beck. © Clive Hicks-Jenkins

The second collaboration between artist and poet, this illustrated book of poems began as a puppet opera in which Hansel and Gretel are reimagined as modern-day refugees. The judges admired the illustrations for enriching, rather than merely representing the written word.

Winner of the Student Illustrator of the Year Award

Sally Dunne, Home in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Anglia Ruskin University, (Cambridge School of Art)

'Home in the Kakuma Refugee Camp', illustration by Sally Dunne
‘Home in the Kakuma Refugee Camp’, illustration by Sally Dunne. Anglia Ruskin, (Cambridge School of Art). © Sally Dunne

Dunne’s pastel drawings aim to convey the vibrancy of the Kakuma refugee camp, while highlighting the difficult reality of displacement as many await resettlement or to return home. The judges admired Dunne’s colour palette and use of shadow, observing that her technique serves to accentuate the contrast between community and the uncertainty of fate.

Student Illustrator of the Year Runner-up

Vyara Boyadjieva, The Wave, Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge School of Art)

'The Wave', illustration by Vyara Boyadjieva
‘The Wave’, illustration by Vyara Boyadjieva. Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge School of Art). © Vyara Boyadjieva

Boyadjieva’s jubilant illustration is part of a wordless picture book entitled Induli, meaning hill in Xhosa, a South African language. The Wave’s infectious joy and exhilarating sense of energy enthralled the judges who admired Boyadjieva’s lively use of colour and form.

Highly Commended Student

Kate Winter, Lascaux, Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge School of Art)

'Lascaux', illustration by Kate Winter
‘Lascaux’, illustration by Kate Winter. Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge School of Art). © Kate Winter

The judges admired Winter’s picture book for highlighting our intrinsic need to learn through creativity and to tell stories through imagery

Highly Commended Student

Laura Winstone, The Catmolean Museum, Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge School of Art)

'The Catmolean Museum', illustration by Laura Winstone
‘The Catmolean Museum’, illustration by Laura Winstone. Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge School of Art). © Laura Winstone

Winstone’s picture book celebrates world culture and craftsmanship. A joy to look at, the judges described her textured collages as playful witty and fun.

Highly Commended Student

Ruo Hsin Wu, Starring Night, Royal College of Art

'Starring Night', illustration by Ruo Hsin Wu
‘Starring Night’, illustration by Ruo Hsin Wu. Royal College of Art. © Ruo Hsin Wu

Stars are imagined as small holes in the sky that giants gaze through to observe the world. The judges admired the beautiful execution of a unique and though-provoking concept.

Many thanks to our judges who had the unenviable task of shortlisting: Bonnie Greer, playwright, novelist, critic and broadcaster; Ren Renwick, CEO of Association of Illustrators (AOI); Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A; Sheri Gee, Art Director at The Folio Society and Yehrin Tong, illustrator and past winner of the V&A Illustration Awards.

Each of the four awards categories received prize money of £3,000, with the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year Prize receiving an additional £5,000. The student runner-up received £2,000.

Supported by the Enid Linder Foundation and the Moira Gemmill Memorial Fund

View a gallery of all entries to the 2020 awards

Find out more about the V&A Illustration Awards

About the author


Digital Media
July 20, 2020

I produce and commission digital things to help tell stories about our collections and programme of exhibitions and displays.

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