The judges have had their say. The votes have been counted. And the winners of the 2022 V&A Illustration Awards have been revealed. Find out who has come out on top.
The V&A Illustration Awards made a triumphant return in 2022 after taking two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, and nearly 1,500 applicants submitted their work to be considered for this year's award. Spanning a broad range of illustration styles and subjects, including the tragedies and challenges we all faced in the last two years and the stories that comforted us, the calibre of work has been incredibly high. However, there can only be a select number of winners and runners-up.
The awards – celebrating their 50th anniversary this year – were selected by a judging panel of illustrious illustrators, including Dapo Adeola, Ann Kiernan, Axel Scheffler, and Posy Simmonds, chaired by V&A Director Tristram Hunt.
But who won? Taking the top spot as the winner of both the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year Prize and Book Illustration Winner 2022 is Gérard DuBois. Gérard - who was commissioned to illustrate a new edition of Cormac McCarthy's The Road published by The Folio Society – impressed judges with his acrylic paintings that perfectly capture the beauty and brutality of McCarthy's text.
Gérard said: "It is a tremendous honour to have my work noticed by such a prestigious institution as the V&A. To me, working on this book was already one of the highlights of my career, and this recognition makes it even more special. I dedicate these awards to Mr Cormac McCarthy, to whom I want to express my deepest gratitude for allowing me to illustrate his words, and to The Folio Society."
Axel Scheffler, animator and illustrator of The Gruffalo, said: "It's been very enjoyable to be part of the jury for this year's V&A illustration prize. The standard of entry was very impressive, and we have chosen some worthy winners. Gérard DuBois' paintings are beautifully atmospheric and cleverly convey the feeling of the book. DuBois has a great sense of composition and colour. Couldn't be better."
Rosalind McKever, curator of paintings & drawings, added: "In the 50th year of the V&A Illustration Awards, we've seen a record number of submissions. Their high quality and sheer variety are testaments to the vibrancy of the illustration industry, which the V&A is proud to recognise through these awards, its collections and commissions."
Meanwhile, the winner of the Book Cover Award category went to Kerry Hyndman for her work on The Rich House by Stella Gibbons. Kerry's primarily digital work used hand-drawn textures and layers to add depth and detail to her cover. Detailing three women strolling across a beach, their footprints and shadows perfectly encapsulate the setting of the novel and its story of intertwined relationships. The judges praised Kerry's eye-catching composition and beautiful draughtsmanship.
James Albon scooped the Illustrated Journalism award for his work, accompanying an article about the effects of TikTok on young people. Made up of their first-hand accounts of using the social media platform, the article focuses on its negative effects on self-image and mental health.
This hypnotising effect is captured in James' images, where figures are entranced by their phones. The eerie nocturnal scene is created with a blue and yellow palette, working in watercolour and gouache. The judges praised the humour and energy of the work.
Finally, the Student Illustration category winner is Anglia Ruskin student Kate Rolfe for her work Navigating Dyslexia. In this piece, letterpress characters form impenetrable forests, and a tumbling pile of books form an overwhelming wave of anxiety.
Based on Kate's personal experience, Navigating Dyslexia combines cyanotype and letterpress processes to communicate the nuanced experience of a person with dyslexia. The judges praised its humour, simplicity and ingenuity. Using traditional printmaking in a non-conventional manner allowed Kate to ask important questions in an accessible and engaging fashion.
Each category winner will receive £3,000 prize money, while the student runner-up will collect £2,000. As for Gérard, he will receive an additional £5,000 and the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year Prize. Their work will also join the V&A's outstanding illustration collections, including works by renowned artists such as Aubrey Beardsley, Sir John Tenniel, E.H. Shepard, Quentin Blake and Posy Simmonds.