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The Folio Society announces Folio Book Illustration Award 2023 longlist

Creative Solutions


The Folio Society, the London publisher of beautifully produced and illustrated hardback books, has revealed the longlist for The Folio Book Illustration Award 2023. This is the second edition of the annual, free to enter competition, launched in 2022 to mark The Folio Society’s 75th anniversary. This year, the longlisted illustrations will be exhibited at Bradford Literature Festival (23 June to 2 July) for the first time.


The award is open to illustrators, student or professional, who have not previously been commissioned by The Folio Society, with the aim of finding, platforming and supporting new illustration talent from around the world. This year, the society received 733 submissions from 58 countries across five continents, from which 20 outstanding illustrations were selected for the longlist. Two of this year’s longlisted illustrators – Merran Coleman and Camille Whitcher – were also longlisted in last year’s Awards.


Entrants were asked to illustrate a single scene of their choice from Ursula K Le Guin’s The Fliers of Gy. The short story tells of a society of feathered people among whom a select few grow wings, a feature that gives them the ability to fly but also carries great risk and leaves them shunned from society. We learn of the Gyr, and the winged few among them, through the eyes of Sita Dulip, the story’s narrator who is a passing visitor in Gy fascinated by its fliers. The illustrations draw on the descriptive passages in the story and the artists’ own imaginations to visualise Gy’s feathered people and the emotional toil and persecution they face, but also the beauty and hope of embracing their gift of flight.


The longlist has been selected by The Folio Society’s art directors, Sheri Gee and Raquel Leis Allion.


Sheri Gee said, ‘There was a really high calibre of illustration that made judging the longlist a very difficult task. We loved so many of the depictions, so beautifully drawn and crafted. I know how hard it was to get from 733 to 20. I am really looking forward to what discussion will come out of deciding the runners up and winner. It is going to be a tough decision.’


Joining the panel for the next round of judging is Theo Downes-Le Guin, Ursula K Le Guin’s son and literary executor, to select the winner and runners up from the longlist. ‘I am delighted to be involved in selecting a recipient for this year’s Folio Book Illustration Award. Like much of my mother’s writing, The Flyers of Gy offers rich opportunity for visual imagination. I can’t wait to see how the entrants respond,’ he said.


Also joining the judges is Tom Walker, The Folio Society publishing director, and Evangeline Gallagher, winner of the inaugural Folio Book Illustration Award 2022’


The competition will culminate on 30 June 2023, when the award’s winner will be announced online.


Illustrations from ©Ben Strawn, ©David Rendo, ©Esther Cuesta de la Mata, and ©Maria Surducan, courtesy The Folio Society.


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