WIA2017 exhibition at Somerset House

The World Illustration Awards 2017 were showcased at Somerset House from 31 July – 28 August 2017.

The overall and category winners were announced on Thursday 3 August at The World Illustration Awards 2017 Exhibition at Somerset House in London, marking the 41st year of the Association of Illustrators’ annual juried illustration awards.

Italian illustrator Marco Palena won the Overall New Talent Award with Librerie in Fiore 2016 (Bookshops in Blossom 2016). The project Bookshops in Blossom is an annual celebration of books and culture in Italy, coinciding with the arrival of spring. Marco’s illustration captures the sensation of being completely immersed in a book.

The judges said Marco’s work was a winner because it is “beautifully executed and has that magical quality to it … smart, witty and wonderfully crafted”.

Dutch artist Aart-Jan Venema won the Overall Professional Award with Green Man Festival. Commissioned by Bread Collective, his A3 sketches were developed in Photoshop and then used for the Green Man Festival website and printed materials.  The brief sought a series of illustrations which reflected the spirit of the festival and the inquisitive nature of the people attending the event.

Venema says “I went all out with objects and plants that may or may not exist. The client wanted me to use as few characters as possible, so I had to ‘characterise’ the objects and plants even more to ensure that the images were still interesting.”

The judges commented that Aart’s illustrations had “a more unusual style – while still showing great (hand-drawn) technical ability and detailing.…  I also feel the illustrations are the perfect mix of weird and wonderful and a great reflection of the festival itself”.

The Association of Illustrators’ Managing Director, Ren Renwick commented:

“It’s been an incredible year for the World Illustration Awards, with entries of an exceptional quality. There have been notable themes of a political and environmental nature. Art reflects life after all. The exhibition at Somerset House offers insight both into the judging process and the illustrators’ creative processes in making the works. This offers an engaging and inspiring exhibition both for those in the know, and those curious to learn more.”

The Awards are presented by the Association of Illustrators in partnership with the Directory of Illustration in California and Somerset House in central London.

The exhibition of highlighted works is open to the public at Somerset House’s Embankment Galleries until 28 August, selected from over 2,300 entries from 64 countries. Each of the eight categories, from Advertising and Design to Books and Editorial are, will be represented. The exhibitionis offers an accessible introduction to illustration in its many forms by demonstrating the importance of visual communication in everyday life. Original exhibited works on display will include animations, posters, packaging and children’s books by artists from the UK, USA, Italy, The Netherlands, South Korea, Hong Kong and Israel.

This year, The World Illustration Awards is teaming up with Walker Books, the world’s leading independent publisher of English language children’s books, to offer the Walker Books Family Programme. A series of free family workshops will take place throughout August in the exhibition space at Somerset House. These include workshops with debut author-illustrator Alice Tait, award-winning author-illustrator of the ‘Julius Zebra’ series Gary Northfield, upcoming artist and illustrator Elissa Elwick, and debut graffiti illustrator Sav Akyuz.

Overall Winners are:
Marco Palena – Overall New Talent Winner (Italy)

Aart-Jan Venema – Overall Professional Winner (Netherlands)

Category Winners are:

Marco Palena – Winner Advertising New Talent
Claudine O’Sullivan – Winner Advertising Professional

Inhye Moon – Winner Books New Talent sponsored by NoBrow
Nina Chakrabarti – Winner Books Professional sponsored by NoBrow

Bethan Woollvin – Winner Children’s Books New Talent sponsored by Walker Books
Lizzy Stewart – Winner Children’s Books Professional sponsored by Walker Books

Sam Ki – Winner Design New Talent sponsored by Affinity Designer
Aart-Jan Venema – Winner Design Professional sponsored by Affinity Designer

Marguerite Carnec – Winner Editorial New Talent
Tony Rodriguez – Winner Editorial Professional

Chen Winner – Winner Research New Talent
Tobatron – Winner Research Professional

Rosalba Cafforio – Winner Self-Initiated New Talent
Steven Choi – Winner Self-Initiated Professional

Jonny Glover – Winner Site Specific Professional


More information on the Awards website:

1st October 2017

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