The Bookseller – News – Longlist revealed for inaugural Folio Book Illustration Award

The Folio Society has unveiled a longlist of 20 illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Masque of the Red Death” for its inaugural Folio Book Illustration Award.

Launched in May to mark the society’s 75th anniversary, the competition aims to showcase illustration talent from around the world created in response to a work of narrative fiction.

More than 600 illustrators entered from 56 countries, representing a diverse range of backgrounds and professional experience, with 20 “outstanding” entries ultimately selected for the longlist. The shortlist and winner will be announced on 8th September 2022.

The longlisted artists are Evangeline Gallagher, Yiran Jia, Danlin-Zhang, Zhiyu You, Camille Whitcher, Sarah Coomer, Harry Campbell, Thanh-Vu Nguyen, Chiara-di Biagio, May Wang, Ale Mercado, Alison Bryant, Raquel Aparicio, Martin Laya, Loredana Fulgori, Shuxian Lee, Yi Tsin, Jessica Cho, Hazel Mason and Merran Coleman.

The competition asked artists who have not previously been commissioned by The Folio Society to illustrate a single scene of their choice from Poe’s 1842 tale.

The longlist features what the judges have described as “inventive and original responses” by illustrators based in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Spain, US, China and Vietnam, drawing on the text, folklore and their own imagination.

They say many entries make vivid use of colour, drawing on the motif of the abbey’s coloured stained glass including its ominous “blood-tinted panes”, as well as the central symbol of the clock.

Each, they say, “presents a unique interpretation of space and perspective”, from Nguyen’s birds-eye view of the abbey to Yi Tsin’s grandiose interiors. The “Red Death” is also rendered in “radically different ways”, from Jia’s elaborately adorned figure to di Biagio’s pair of eyes emerging from the darkness, as well as in abstract form.

The longlist has been selected by a judging panel including the award-winning illustrator Yuko Shimizu and members of The Folio Society team: Tom Walker, publishing director; Sheri Gee, art director; and Raquel Leis Allion, art director.

The winner will receive a £2,000 cash prize plus a £500 Folio gift voucher, while a further five shortlisted artists will each receive a £500 voucher, as well as an individual portfolio review with The Folio Society art directors. 

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