The Overall New Talent Award went to Italian illustrator Marco Palena for his work for the Bookshops in Blossom book, which details Italian literature and culture. The judges deemed Palena’s muted, stylish portraiture to be “beautifully executed and has that magical quality to it… smart, witty and wonderfully crafted”.
Dutch artist Aart-Jan Venema scooped the Overall Professional Award for a very different project in scope and style, with his work for this year’s Green Man festival. Commissioned by Bread Collective, Venema says he “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.” They were to the judges, who described his work as “the perfect mix of weird and wonderful and a great reflection of the festival itself”.
The final 15 winners are, as ever, an eclectic bunch; with some very traditional hand drawn illustrations such as those by Inhye Moon sitting alongside more politicised work (see Toby Leigh aka Tobatron’s excellent work depicting disability rights campaigner Barbara Lisicki) and some pieces directly referenceing the digital processes that bore them, with Claudine O’Sullivan’s beguiling, painterly campaign imagery for the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro.
The winners were selected from more than 2,300 entries from 64 countries. Illustrations were judged in eight categories, including Advertising, Design, Books, Editorial, Self Initiated and Site Specific. According to the Association of Illustrators managing director Ren Renwick, the 2017 awards saw “notable themes of a political and environmental nature,” adding, “Art reflects life after all.”
The exhibition of highlighted works is open to the public at Somerset House’s Embankment Galleries until 28 August. See theaoi.com/awards/winners
The full list of winners is below.
Marco Palena – Overall New Talent Winner (Italy)
Aart-Jan Venema – Overall Professional Winner (Netherlands)
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