A few weeks ago DW Design took a jaunt down to London to catch the World Illustration Awards Exhibition at Somerset House. The Association of Illustrators (The AOI) in partnership with the Directory of Illustration has once again put on a wonderful exhibition of the coolest and most creative illustrations from around the globe today. Running from 11-28 July we caught it on the opening weekend to see what was going on in the world of illustrators, and after seeing all 200 entries that were shortlisted and the standout winners for each category, we were pretty glad that we made the trip.
An Independent jury of 24 commissioners and industry specialists judged over 3600 submissions from 75 countries in 8 different categories to award this years' prize money and winner's titles. We think those are pretty impressive stats, and with the Overall Professional Winner receiving not only a cash prize of £2,000 but a two-page marketing package in the Directory of Illustration No. 36and a 100-image professional portfolio on directoryofillustration.com, it's not only the title that counts as much as the kick-start to your career it provides.
So without further ado, lets have a look at some of our favourites and at what's going on in illustration today.
First up on our list of favourites is one from the Design category - 'Under the Skin of Endangered Animals' from the series of limited edition screen prints 'Under the Skin' created by brothers and design duo Ed and James Harrison. The series celebrates endangered species and highlights the immediate dangers we face with trying to keep them from extinction. It is innovative in its design letting viewers use a UV torch to reveal the skeleton of the endangered animals, in essence all that will remain if their species dies out. It was powerful, thought provoking and had a meaningful and important underlying message - all in all great design work that not only looks amazing but also makes a real-life impact.
Our next two are from the Editorial category and used simple design to convey a strong message on issues that are being tackled within society today, gender equality and Brexit.
The first Illustration by John Holcroft was inspired by his daughters and is labelled 'Gender Equality'. It conveys a clear message on the struggles women can face in comparison to men and is clever in its use of symbolism to get his point across.
The second is 'The Brexit Abyss' by artist Chris Clarke that featured as a cover illustration in the Guardian weekly. His bold use of colour, custom typography and imagery shows Theresa May about to step into the unknown depths of Brexit (which as we know now didn't go too well) and is a powerful physical representation of the metaphorical void of Brexit.
Another from the Design category that we loved was Greg Coultons' 'Becks Be Kreativ Art Label'. Packaging is a wonderful example of illustration and design that can be shared by everyone and can lift a product from the dusty back of the shelf onto winning awards for its creativity. Becks is admittedly fairly well-known already, however it shows how creative design can make a product instantly more desirable and that is definitely the case with this beautiful illustration that was inspired by historic brewing purity laws, which included the fact that only four ingredients must be used to create lager. Greg has created a 'Tree of Life' that contains animals from all six classifications intertwined with foliage, focusing on the natural ingredients in lager, and the result is a striking label for Becks that you want to keep on your shelf even after the beers all gone.
Another alcohol related design that we loved (we promise it's just the design we like) was 'Absolut Love; Everydays of Love' by illustrator and educator Karen Jiyun Sung. It was actually a piece for a university assignment and was inspired by Absolut Vodka's 'Love is Love' campaign, showing endless different scenes of love in the rainbow colours with the silhouette of the Absolut bottle creating a heart like shape in the centre. The whole piece radiates joy and happiness and is a creative take on Absolut's previously just colour-focused campaign.
There were too many amazing illustrations to cover but here are a few more that caught our eye, including some bold posters and postcards using striking colour and English, French and Spanish typography, advertising festivals, zoo visits and vibrant local culture. Children's book illustration was another interesting category, with inspiring bursts of imagination across the board, and a whole host of different mixed-medias being used to create bright and colourful pieces.
As a whole the variety and creativity on show was a great look into the gifted and original minds of illustrators today, and a must-see for all aspiring illustrators, designers and artists alike. Unfortunately the awards have been won, pieces showcased and exhibition finished for 2019, but were eagerly awaiting what 2020 will bring, and the fresh and new ideas that are sure to emerge.
Watch this space...