London Transport Museum to show off the “best in professional illustration”

The Poster Prize for Illustration will open in February and sees 100 shortlisted illustrators respond to the theme of “London stories”, vying for the top prize of £2,000 and having their work turned into a Tube poster.

No Trousers Tube Ride All Summer, by Andreea Dobrin

Update 10 February 2019: Three out of four winners of the Poster Prize for Illustration 2019 have now been announced.

The gold prize goes to Eliza Southwood, for London is the Place for Me, a depiction of the Windrush generation arriving in the UK. Southwood will receive a prize of £2,000, and will have her illustration turned into a poster that will feature on the London Underground.

The silver prize goes to Anna Steinberg for The Cokeney, a image of a rooster sat on a egg-shaped map, while the bronze prize goes to artist Mobb for The Faceless Woman, an illustration of an expressionless woman sat on a tube station platform at night. They receive £1,000 and £750 respectively.

The fourth winner, who will be decided by public vote, will be announced in June. Scroll through the piece to see the gold, silver and bronze winning entries.

An exhibition of 100 illustrations celebrating the UK’s capital is set to open at the London Transport Museum (LTM), as part of a competition held with the Association of Illustrators (AoI).

The Poster Prize for Illustration has been running since 2009 and takes place every 18 months. A collaboration between the LTM and AoI, it looks to celebrate “the best of professional illustration” from the UK and abroad, says Michael Walton, poster art commissioner at Transport for London (TfL) and member of this year’s judging panel.

The brief for this year’s competition is “London Stories”, and the AoI invited entries from illustrators from the UK and all over the world to produce an artwork of any size that related to this theme. This could look at anything from people, places, transport and environment through to topical issues such as diversity, multiculturalism and the Windrush generation.

London is the Place for Me, by Eliza Southwood — gold prize winner

“The brief is always quite open because we don’t want to restrict illustrators – we want to give them as much variation as possible,” says Sau-Fun Mo, head of design at the LTM, who is curating the exhibition space. “We always link it back to London in some way. This year, it’s about people’s interpretations of stories of the capital, whether that’s personal, or from the perspective of a commuter or tourist.”

The AoI received 2,000 entries for this year’s competition, which the organisation whittled down to 200. These were then halved by the competition judging panel, which includes illustrators, advertising agencies, artwork buyers, artists, designers, journalists and TfL commissioners, leaving 100 shortlisted entries to be shown in the exhibition.

They range in size, with the majority being A2 and A1, while some are smaller and larger. Mediums used include digital prints, watercolour paints, colour pencils, acrylic pens, graphite, ink and lino-cut.

The Secret Life of London’s Foxes, by Alexandra Dzhiganskaya

There are prizes on offer for four illustrators, including the overall winner, who will receive £2,000 and have their illustration displayed on the London Underground as a poster. The silver and bronze prizes are £1,000 and £750, while a new fourth prize will be given this year, as chosen through a public vote.

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to choose their favourite illustration on a digital screen. This winning illustrator will have their poster displayed in the LTM’s permanent collection.

While Mo says the illustration brief is intentionally “open”, she has seen trends in this year’s entries, which include many using “bright, vibrant” colours and birds-eye view perspective. Many also focus in on people and multiculturalism, as well as on architectural drawings.

“Abstract” or surreal interpretations of London include a bus flying over Tower Bridge, and a huge, mutant pig living in London’s sewers, while a more straightforward vision is an illustration of chips wrapped in newspaper.

Yesterday’s News, by Catherine Paiano

“Some of the entries really explore the artist’s imagination,” she says. “Some, visitors could interpret in hundreds of ways. What we’ve been looking for is a unique perspective on the city, and that surprise element.”

In terms of the exhibition space, the show will be displayed in the museum’s Exterion Media Gallery across two floors, which are “long, linear spaces”, says Mo. She adds that the space is broken up by walls and “islands”, which aim to make the gallery feel more “intimate”.

“We have interior walls in the gallery spaces, which allow visitors to weave in and out, to build in that intimacy,” she says. “The end of the gallery space upstairs and downstairs has been left quite open, so that visitors can enter it from both levels.”

Mo says that the illustrations have not been grouped thematically or by medium, as she wants visitors to see an eclectic range of artworks as they move through the space.

The Drowned World, by Bill Walsh

“We want people to get a good flow of different styles, colours, textures and content, so they get a wide variation and spread,” she says.

She adds that the design of the space has been kept minimal, to allow the pieces themselves to be centre-stage. “I intentionally haven’t overcrowded it with extra graphics, so that visitors just concentrate on the beautiful artworks,” she says. “It’s all about the illustration.”

The Poster Prize for Illustration exhibition runs 8 February – 14 July 2019 at the Exterion Media Gallery, London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 7BB. Entry is included in the price of general museum admission, which is £17.50 for adults, and £15 for concessions. 

The overall winner, and the silver and bronze prizes, will be announced at the exhibition opening on 8 February at a special Friday Night Late event at the museum. Tickets to this event cost £15, and £12 for concessions. The fourth, public vote winner will be announced in June, after the public vote closes on 2 June.

A series of talks will accompany the exhibition. For more information, head here.

All images courtesy of the London Transport Museum.

The Cokeney, by Anna Steinberg — silver prize winner
The Faceless Woman, by Mobb — bronze prize winner
London Eye, by Jie Fu
The Cabmen’s Cafe, by Alicia Jennings
Plane Trees of London, by Ruby Fresson
Hide Comments (3)Show Comments (3)
  • ian Fogden January 31, 2019 at 9:16 am

    all these illustrations are third rate

  • Masha February 15, 2019 at 11:18 pm

    The Secret Life of London’s Foxes ❤❤❤ l
    Love 🙂

  • Kay March 14, 2019 at 8:45 am

    The fox one is my favourite. Very cheeky and absurd like British humour.

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