Explore the fascinating connection between literary themes and illustration in this curated selection from the WIA2020 shortlist.

Illustration as a medium is a great way to convey archetypal stories from global cultures. From mythical figures to literary classics, the wealth of narrative detail available to the illustrator to utilise for creative work is broad, varied and rich. See a range of approaches taking in figuration and abstraction to create a world full of ideas and stories.


Tina Berning: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Tina uses ink and watercolour washes to create expressive illustrations to tell the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The shapes and shadows convey the title character’s shifting personality, using surface, texture and tone to add depth and a sense of menace.

Tina Berning is a Berlin based artist and illustrator focusing on figurative drawing. Constantly switching between commissions and her personal artistic position her work has been published as well as exhibited worldwide. Tina is represented by Koko Art Agency

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Minhee Kim: Book Cover Re-design for Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

After reading the book and doing some research, Minhee Kim created a couple of designs for the Penguin book cover redesign competition for Goodnight Mister Tom and this is one of them. The soft strokes of the text and background are to reflect the warmheartedness of the story, which is also achieved by including the main characters depicted in a personal situation as small elements.

Minhee is an illustrator from South Korea, currently studying for an MA in Illustration at Kingston School of Art, Kingston University.

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Fabio Buonocore: The trickster

This illustration Fabio was commissioned by Nature magazine as it is showing a new particle discovery made in Norway that changes the philogenetic tree for ever. The new particle it be called Lokiarchaeota like the God of Norse Mythology, Loki, so he chose a image of the god to depict the restructuring moment of the philogenetic tree.

Fabio Buonocore is a Milan-based illustrator. Since he was young Fabio loved art from Costiera Amalfitana and mediterranean colors and drawings. Japanese art and graphic design has also had a great influence on his work.

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Yunyao Chen: Ophelia’s death

This illustration is inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet and in particular the part where Ophelia floats in a river. To show her desperation within the beautiful river scene, Yunyao uses dark colours to have a muted feel to the scene before adding watercolour details and finishing the image digitally.

Yunyao Chen was born in China and now is an illustration freshman at theSchool of visual arts in New York.

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Megan Evetts: Paradise Lost

Megan wanted to capture the intensity and drama of Milton’s Paradise Lost whilst still being appealing for the modern audience. This piece was made using the soot created by holding a lighter and a stencil under a piece of paper to create the main shapes and shadows. The image was then coloured in Photoshop in dramatic red and black to further enhance the intensity of the the book.

Megan is a BA Illustration student in her final year at Falmouth University. She works in character design, children’s picture books, concept art, book covers & internal illustrations and record covers. She works with both traditional and digital mediums, and is about to begin her Masters degree in Game Art.

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Trang Pham: Little Red Riding Hood- Another Story

Trang uses well known elements for depicting Little Red Riding Hood, such as the red dress for Red and grey for the large looming wolf, but then cleverly removes them from the traditional story line. She wanted to put the characters in a new narrative and instead of the wolf being a threat the two main characters now have bond and go on playful adventures together. This is reflected by a warm grey texture to the wolf, so that, although he is very big, he appears to be friendly with a sparkle in his eyes.

Trang Pham focuses on bringing original perspectives and interpretations of the subject matter in her illustration. The goal behind her artistic style, which is characterized by soft quality and fun textures and patterns, is to bring a lighthearted feeling to the audience and make them feel more welcomed to relate to the artwork.

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Owen Davey: Mythopedia

This project by Owen Davey were created with the author of Mythopedia to sum up ancient cultures and stories and provide visual intrigue to civilisations including Norse, Chinese, Japanese, Egyptian, Roman, Aztec, Celtic and Greek. To give them a unifying and modern look, he uses only a limited colour palette and converts the carious cultural styles into his very own shapes while still preserving the iconic elements of these cultures. All images were created digitally.

Owen Davey is an award-winning Illustrator from the UK. Over the last 11 years, he has worked with a number of varied clients, including Google, Facebook, Sony, Lego, National Geographic and WWF. He illustrates the multi-award winning app Two Dots and his numerous picture books have been published in every continent except Antartica.

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Pei-Hsin Cho: Love Poems

As the title states these illustrations by Pei-Hsin Cho are inspired by various love poems which is reflected in the soft colours and textures she uses. They depict a bittersweet atmosphere conveyed by the poems and so often part of love stories. The use of visual metaphors in this project transcends beyond the object and provides emotional insights deep into the directions of the graphite strokes. To add more character and softness, the images are hand-drawn and textured on paper and then coloured in Photoshop. 

Pei-Hsin Cho is a freelance illustrator and animator based in Berlin. She combines traditional and digital techniques to depict a variety of inward feelings that attempt to transcribe subtle emotions into tangible and visually tactile images.

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Tianshu: The Metamorphosis

This book cover design by Tianshu for The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka cleverly splits the image between the front and back of the book. The front shows the well know bug but overt he back cover his shadow shows in the shape of a man frightening two people. The slight menace of the story is reflected in the dark and muted texture and colour of the illustrations. The dark rough texture visualise the element of dirtiness which is introduced through the change in the story line.

Tianshu is an illustrator from China, studying at the BFA illustration program at School of Visual Arts. She specialized in watercolor drawings and digital image making. She enjoyed experimenting with different media to make designs.

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