Illustrating COVID-19

The event that dominated 2020 and much of 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic, is perhaps unsurprisingly, a defining theme of this year’s shortlist.

From scientific illustrations explaining the nature of the virus, to work exploring the social and economic impact of this global challenge, illustrators responded with speed and creativity to visually document and explain unfolding events.

Curious Lauren‘s project uses ‘Wet Paint’ to separate people on benches during South Africa’s lockdown restrictions. The joyful designs and humour are an antidote to the seriousness of the pandemic.

This striking illustration by Daniela Gonzalez for Guatemalan newspaper ElPeriódico uses dramatic lighting and miminal detail to convey its message about reopening the country following lockdown.

I Chu Tsao‘s illustrations explore the relationship between humans and animals in light of COVID from a Buddhist perspective with lots of detail and flowing movement.

These powerful illustrations by Elisa Seitzinger are inspired by old style medical illustrations to show the impact of the virus in our modern age. The red background makes the illustrations feel punchy and urgent, while conveying the details of the virus and its effects.

Max Löffler‘s dramatic illustration captures the USA’s response to the pandemic. This carefully balanced composition communicates the surreal nature of the situation, and the sense that the response was slipping through political leaders’ hands.

Nastya Smirnova (krasiver) was commissioned to create illustrations for a book titled ‘All Things Considered’ by Evgeny Pinelis, a doctor in a New York hospital about their response to COVID. These illustrations capture the fast moving nature and vast scale of the pandemic.

One of the impacts of COVID was the unprecedented stress and uncertainty that many people felt. Rozalina Burkova‘s animated illustrations for an article show a range of relaxation techniques, with a beautiful hand drawn aesthetic in a carefully selected colour palette.

Vic Lee‘s incredible project documents the pandemic through 2020. Started as a journal, this project grew into a much larger piece of work as the scale and impact of COVID grew too. Each page captures a day of life in the UK during various restrictions, combining local and global events into these engaging black and white illustrations.

This self-initiated project by Xavier Segers imagines how the virus might look if it was a typeface, and the messages it might have for us. Created digitally, this illustrates the language of and around COVID in unique way.