Much like illustrator of the moment Noma Bar, Paul Blow’s doctrine is ’concept over style’, which he has allegedly claimed ’is the only way to overcome boredom and bleeding eyes’. Bleeding Eyes is the title of one of his bold images that are up for an award at the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Illustration Awards on 6 June. It depicts a man driven to crying tears of blood by some unfortunate reading material, indicating that Blow is a man driven to distraction by frilly and decorative illustrative styles.
He would find it difficult to accuse Olivier Kugler of frippery, although Kugler’s style is vastly different to his own. Un Thé en Iran (A Tea in Iran), published in French magazine XXI Vingt et Un, resembles a loosened-up technical drawing. Kugler’s self-named ’reportage’ style layers people, words, journal-style snapshot impressions and cityscapes over each other in a way that seems to capture how we can experience a busy street as a jumble of impressions, some of which stand out more than others. Kugler’s original style ought to put him in the way of the £2000 prize in the Editorial Award, not least because he convinced XXI to publish a full 30-page illustrated journal of his trip to Iran considerably more exposure than many illustrators gain in a year.
Rob Ryan helped to judge the entries this year, sifting through the 1000 entries competing for one of the five £2000 category prizes and the £4000 overall winner’s award. His conclusion is that illustration in the UK is ’strong’ and that the student entries reminded him ’that young people leaving college are smart, funny and thoughtful’.