The Book Illustration Competition 2016 Announces Winner

Alan Marks announced as winner of the annual Book Illustration Competition (#BIC2016)

BIC Awards LogoThe Folio Society and House of Illustration are thrilled to announce Alan Marks as the winner of the sixth annual Book Illustration Competition – a unique partnership between The Folio Society and House of Illustration. Marks was presented with his prize, a prestigious commission worth £5,000 to illustrate War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, at an exclusive ceremony held at House of Illustration on Thursday 25 February.

Marks’s winning entry was selected from nearly 400 other entries and his illustrations won high praise from the judging panel. With an abiding love of writing and drawing, Marks has been a freelance illustrator since leaving Bath Academy of Art in 1980. He began illustrating for literary and editorial magazines and since then has worked on a wide variety of books with many excellent authors and publishers.

War Horse illustrationsRunners-up were announced as Sishirprithvi Bommakanti, Courtney Dyer, Catherine Fearnley, Agata Pankowska and D. G. Smith. Dyer (Arts University Bournemouth), Fearnley (University of Cumbria) and Pankowska (Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University) are the three student entrants in the final six. This year four of the finalists are based in the UK; Sishirprithvi Bommakanti and D. G. Smith live in the US.

At the ceremony, Michael Morpurgo said ‘I’ve been proud to work with Folio before, writing several introductions for them, and am very pleased to have had War Horse chosen for this competition. Such a depth of illustration talent was on show, on the long and short list. Each enriched the story, shone a new light. Only the best illustration does that.’

Folio Society Art Director, Sheri Gee commented: ‘We all particularly liked Alan’s binding. It is very strong both graphically and in terms of narrative, across the back to the front over. As judges we were drawn to it again and again. The illustrations are very sensitively done, with wide appeal across the readership. Beautifully executed and well-observed.’

Colin McKenzie, Director of House of Illustration, said: ‘Alan is a worthy winner – his binding was immediately arresting as an image and his illustrations evoked the book very powerfully for all of the judging panel.’

Editor of the Folio Society edition and judging panellist Johanna Geary commented: ‘The illustrations perfectly reflect the tone of the novel, capturing the softer, intimate moments set against the landscape of war.’

2015 BIC winner and member of the 2016 judging panel, David McConochie, said: ‘I enjoyed both the quality of work and the exciting variety of approaches on show. The winning illustrations were not only technically excellent but also reflected the tone of the book beautifully.’

Joe Whitlock Blundell, Folio Society Limited Editions Director, said: ‘War Horse is a deeply moving book, and I was impressed by the heartfelt quality of so many of the competition entries, most especially the winner.’

War Horse illustrated by Alan Marks will be available from The Folio Society ( in October 2016.

Notes to editors

Entrants to the 2016 Book Illustration Competition came from the UK, the US, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates.

The Book Illustration Competition is a partnership between The Folio Society and House of Illustration. The annual international competition is open to illustrators over the age of 18, both students and professionals, not previously published by The Folio Society. To date, the BIC has distributed over £37,000 worth of prizes and has received thousands of entries. The winner receives the prestigious Folio Society commission worth £5,000 to illustrate the competition title. Five runners-up each receive £500. Three of the prizes must be awarded to student entries.

For nearly 70 years, The Folio Society has been publishing beautiful illustrated editions of the world’s greatest books. It believes that the literary content of a book should be matched by its physical form. With specially commissioned illustrations, many of its editions are further enhanced with introductions written by leading figures in their fields: novelists, journalists, academics, scientists and artists. Exceptional in content and craftsmanship, and maintaining the very highest standards of fine book production, Folio Society editions last for generations., @foliosociety

House of Illustration is the UK’s only public gallery dedicated solely to illustration, with a creative programme of exhibitions, talks and events. Founded by Sir Quentin Blake and opened in July 2014 at the heart of the King’s Cross regeneration area, it is the place to see, learn about and enjoy illustration in all its forms; from advertisements to animation, picture books to political cartoons and scientific drawings to fashion design. A registered charity, House of Illustration identifies and promotes new illustration talent, commissions new work and has a pioneering illustrator-led education and outreach programme.
2 Granary Square, King’s Cross, London N1C 4BH. @illustrationHQ Registered Charity number 1095210



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