Member Ngadi Smart wins First Prize at FAB Prize

Faber has announced the winners, and signed up all four finalists, of this year’s Faber & Andlyn (FAB) Prize for new writers and illustrators from under-represented backgrounds.

Ngadi Smart, who was awarded first place for the illustration prize, is motivated by the representation of minorities, cultural identity and gender roles. Judges described her submission as “wonderfully arresting portraits with an astonishing degree of dynamism and energy to both the figures themselves and the vibrant spaces they inhabit”.

We asked Ngadi what her reaction was when she found out about her award, and what this means for her:

I was so surprised and delighted! I had applied to the FAB prize thinking I would not get very far, as I only had a small series consisting of  4 illustrations I had done for Riverhead Books’ digital platform to celebrate author Ishmael H Beah’s release of “Little Family”, so getting shortlisted and then winning was definitely beyond my expectations. It means a lot to me to have my work be recognised in this industry I love, and it’s really amazing that Faber & Faber also found me my first book publishing deal, and one that is so well suited to me.

Akhran Girmay, a Bristol-based illustrator who uses a mixture of fantasy and folk tales within his art, was awarded second place.

Both illustration winners have been signed for upcoming publications with Faber. Smart will illustrate Musical Truth: A Musical History of Modern Black Britain in 25 Songs by author and educator Jeffrey Boakye.

Ngadi expands on the process of the commission so far: “I am at the rough stages, so next will be feedback for me to continue on. It’s been great because Jeffrey is a great writer and really captures the different eras of Black British music that have influenced Britain as a whole. It’s really fun illustrating some of the musicians I have loved since my teenage years!”

Girmay is set to illustrate a new edition of Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely‘s YA novel, All American Boys.

We asked Smart if she’d like to thank anyone for the award:

I would like to thank Author Ishmael H Beah for requesting an African female creator, knowing that we are a minority in the illustration world, Riverhead Books and art director Helen Yentus for finding me and commissioning me for the initial job, and my AOI mentor Willa Gebbie, who really pushed and encouraged me to believe in myself this summer.

We want to extend our congratulations to Ngadi as well as Akhran, we can’t wait to these projects come to life next year!

26th October 2020

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