V&A Illustration Awards

The V&A Illustration Awards is the UK's most prestigious annual illustration competition recognising the very best in book, editorial and student illustration. The competition has been running since 1972 and its previous winners are a veritable Who’s Who? of British illustration including household names like Ralph Steadman, Posy Simmonds, Sara Fanelli, Quentin Blake, Laura Carlin, Matthew Richardson, Helen Musselwhite and Yasmeen Ismail.

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2017 V&A Illustration Awards

2017 Editorial Illustration Award and Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year
A. Richard Allen, Trump Wave, in The Sunday Telegraph Money

Book Cover Design Award
Aino-Maija Metsola for Mrs Dalloway from Vintage Classics Woolf Series (Vintage, 2016)

Book Illustration Award
JARVIS, Alan’s Big Scary Teeth (London: Walker Books, 2016)

2017 Student Illustrator of the Year
Beatriz Lostalé Seijo, The Odyssey, MA Children's Book Illustration, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge School of Art

Student Runner-up
Tom Spooner, Towards an Infinite Place, Visual Communications, RCA

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2017 Editorial Illustration Award and Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year

A. Richard Allen - Trump Wave
Illustration for New opportunities, new dangers: the age of Trump
Authors: Laura Suter, Olivia Rudgard & James Connington
Published in The Sunday Telegraph Money, 13 November 2016, page 1, The Telegraph Media Group

A. richard allen
2017 Editorial Illustration Award and Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year, A. Richard Allen - 'Trump Wave', in The Sunday Telegraph Money

A. Richard Allen's illustration accompanied an article in The Sunday Telegraph on the potentially dramatic impact of Donald Trump's election victory on global financial markets. It takes its cue from the instantly recognisable composition of Katsushika Hokusai's famous 19th-century woodblock print Under the Wave off Kanagawa (The Great Wave). Adapted to Donald Trump's equally familiar hairstyle, A. Richard Allen’s illustration is succinct and eloquent, managing to be humorous without being at all trivial.

The judging panel was particularly impressed by the use of a well-known art-historical reference as commentary on current affairs and voted Trump Wave as the overall winner of the 2017 competition, making A. Richard Allen the recipient of the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year prize.

A. Richard Allen is a graduate of Central Saint Martins and in 2016 won the prestigious Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year competition.

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2017 Book Illustration Award

Jarvis - Alan's Big Scary Teeth
Author: Jarvis
Published by Walker Books, London, 2016

Jarvis
Book Illustration Award, JARVIS, 'Alan’'s Big Scary Teeth', (London: Walker Books, 2016)

Jarvis's background as an animator and a former website designer is evident in the dynamism, fluidity and manic energy of his first illustrated book for children. Alan's Big Scary Teeth is populated with joyful, peppy, hyperactive characters, all digitally rendered in a palette of primary colours and textures.

Jarvis's use of mixed media combines digital colouring with a paint, chalk and pencil overlay, giving visual depth to his illustrations and avoiding the sometimes pristine sterility of software-aided design.

His approach to character-design also emphasises the use of simple shapes and geometric formalisation to make his characters 'easy to draw'. Like the artist's favourite cartoon characters, Alan, the crocodile, can be reproduced with simple geometric elements: circles (for eyes), a lowercase ‘m’, a straight line (for his snout), 2 curves and a zig zag.

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2017 Book Cover Design Award

Aino-Maija Metsola - cover illustration for Mrs Dalloway (from the Vintage Classics Woolf Series)
Author: Virginia Woolf
Published by Vintage Classics, London, 2016

Aino maija metsola
Book Cover Design Award, Aino-Maija Metsola for 'Mrs Dalloway' from Vintage Classics Woolf Series (Vintage, 2016)

Aino-Maija Metsola is an illustrator and graphic designer from Helsinki already well-known in her native Finland for her graphic design commissions for the Finnish furnishing and textile design company, Marimekko.

The quiet intensity of Virginia Woolf's stream-of-consciousness narrative technique has often posed visual challenges for illustrators. But employing the use of bold semi-abstract water-colours, Aino-Maija Metsola worked closely with Suzanne Dean, Creative Director at Random House, to create a series of highly accomplished book cover designs that evoke the mood of Woolf's modernist texts while repackaging these classic works for a 21st-century audience.

The judges praised the covers for their restrained elegance and graphic simplicity and welcomed their departure from the use of period imagery for modern classic novels.

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Student Illustrator of the Year 2017

Beatriz Lostalé Seijo - The Odyssey
MA Children’s Book Illustration, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge School of Art

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2017 Student Illustrator of the Year, Beatriz Lostalé Seijo, 'The Odyssey', MA Children’s Book Illustration, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge School of Art

Beatriz Lostalé Seijo's illustrations of Homer's well-known epic began as a student project to illustrate a classic tale for a young audience.

Her use of the concertina format creates a tactile, visually arresting set-piece that echoes the narrative's ideas of voyage, movement, and the ebb and flow of the changing fortunes of Homer's characters. She also exploits all the chromatic possibilities of screen printing, depicting Homer's mythological world in just three colours and repackaging this classic text in accessible and dynamic form.

The judges singled out Lostalé Seijo's technical approach for special commendation, praising her confident and distinctive use of colour, her bold design sense and the seemingly effortless control of her drawing technique in service to her ideas.

Beatriz Lostalé Seijo is a recent graduate of the MA in Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge School of Art).

Student Runner-Up

Tom Spooner - Towards an Infinite Place
MA Visual Communications, Royal College of Art

Tom spooner
Student Runner-up, Tom Spooner, 'Towards an Infinite Place', Visual Communications, RCA

Tom Spooner's suite of etchings demonstrates an ongoing shift among students of illustration, towards the use of manual printing techniques in contrast to software-aided graphic design.

Towards an Infinite Place grew out of the artist's interest in what he termed 'superficially unremarkable sites' that nevertheless evoke sentiments of belonging and reverie. The etchings depict a series of deserted urbanscapes, initially photographed by the artist during evening walks in his native South-West London. They are the final stage of a 3-phase process involving photography, drawing and drypoint etching, and caught the attention of the judges, who praised his instinct for composition and his mastery of the print medium.

Tom Spooner graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Illustration and Visual Communication from the University of Westminster and is a recent graduate of the MA in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art.

The following student entrants were also Highly Commended:

Lucy Waldman, Favela Life (BA Illustration, UCA Farnham)
Emily Evans, Blood Antiquities (MA Visual Communication, RCA)
Thomas Hedger, Petrol Stations (BA Graphic Design, UAL CSM)

Highly commended
Left to right: Emily Evans, Blood Antiquities (MA Visual Communication, RCA); Thomas Hedger, Petrol Stations (BA Graphic Design, UAL CSM); Lucy Waldman, Favela Life (BA Illustration, UCA Farnham)


The winners of the V&A Illustration Awards 2017 each received a £3,000 cash prize as well as a trophy and a certificate. As winner of the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year Prize, A. Richard Allen received an additional £5,000.

Special thanks to the V&A Illustration Awards 2017 judges

Beryl Kingston (Author)
Jane Scherbaum (former V&A Head of Design)
Jason Brooks (Artist and Illustrator, 2016 V&A Illustration Awards winner)
John O’Reilly (Editor at Varoom Magazine)
Loyd Grossman (Broadcaster, Art Historian and Gastronome)

All the winning art works will be on display on the National Art Library landing at the V&A until the 20 August 2017.

Entry for the 2018 competition will open in October 2017.

Each year, the winning books are added to the holdings of the National Art Library and may be read in the Library’s Reading Rooms in the V&A.

Find out more on the V&A Illustration Awards blog and explore our Illustration collections.

Contact: villa@vam.ac.uk

Supported by the Enid Linder Foundation