Hawthorne & Heaney on the World Illustration Awards 2019

art, embroidery, exhibitions, illustration, London, textiles, things to do, visit

The Association of Illustrators (AOI) have partnered with the Directory of Illustration to bring another year of the World Illustration Awards. With over 3,600 entries, the judges have whittled them down to the final shortlisted 200, showcasing some amazing and diverse up and coming talent. The show has been held annually, in various forms for over 40 years now. Categories range from children’s books to experimental designs. 


Full of clever, quirky designs and powerful messages. Important and popular themes such feminism, gender equality, environmental change and the power of technology were all covered throughout the art shown. As well as a broad range of subject matter and mediums, with works in graphics, embroidery and even plasticine! 


Hawthorne & Heaney on the World Illustration Awards 2019 London Hand Embroidery


If These Walls Could Talk by Astrid Jaekel, 2019.

One of my favourite pieces, shown below, Karolina Miękisz has focused her work based on a New York Times article “CSI: Earth” by Gavin Schmidt, where the idea that fingerprints can be traced to find out who and what is responsible for climate change. In the small but effective little artwork, the image slowly moves to show the finger prints moving and spreading into the sky, like smoke out of a factory chimney. Hopefully this gets more of us thinking about our own environmental fingerprints and encourage us to do something to reduce them and help tackle the huge problem of climate change. 

Hawthorne & Heaney on the World Illustration Awards 2019 London Hand Embroidery

Who is to blame? By Emilia Karolina Miękisz, 2019. 


Hawthorne & Heaney on the World Illustration Awards 2019 London Hand Embroidery

Modified Man by Tim Easley, 2019. 

Tim Easley’s brief was to design an album cover for the band Modified Man. Taking into account the bands electronic sound, his vision to create a circuit board visual has come to life. Using plasticine and hand techniques to create the intricate work, piece by piece of plasticine layers,  the overall effect looks quite something. A really original way of creating this circuit board pattern, Easley shows there are other ways to take illustration. 

Hawthorne & Heaney on the World Illustration Awards 2019 London Hand Embroidery

(Left) Stand design for Freda at Stylist Live by Hazel Mead, 2019. (Right) Alphabets: Phenomenal Women by Elen Winata, 2019.

Gender equality and the promoting of female empowerment were other strong themes within this years exhibition. I was especially drawn to these two based on the bright colours, cool layout and little female icons covering both. In Stand for Freda, the message ‘Period products for all.’ as one of the many slogans within promoting a no shame policy when it comes down to the topic of periods and that free sanitary products should be a basic human right. 


Alphabets: Phenomenal Women, show a different branch to female empowerment through capturing our most famous and treasured female icons through time in these fun, stylistic illustrations. The idea that this could educate and teach girls to look up to these kind of role models and inspire them to achieve greatness.


Hawthorne & Heaney on the World Illustration Awards 2019 London Hand Embroidery


Under the Skin of Endangered Animals by Under the Skin (Duo, Ed and James Harrison), 2019. 

Of course, in the current state of the world, issues of the environment, ocean plastics and our endangered species have been another strong topic I’ve seen. Duo Ed and James Harrison are brothers and have teamed as designers to make ‘Under The Skin’, who donate 20% of print sales to charities that specifically work to protect the animal within the print.


Under a UV light, the beautiful animal illustrations show the inner skeleton of the animal is seen, “all that remains if a species falls into the darkness of extinction”. This thought provoking and clever way of incorporating design, activism and unusual materials is a fun way of getting across a strong message and a lot of people stopped to have a go with the UV torch! 


Overall, the finalists this year have impressed me. A range of entertaining, interesting and thoughtful works. An exciting exhibition and one to definitely have a visit too. 

All images from:

Association of Illustrations, World Illustration Awards 2019: https://theaoi.com/world-illustration-awards/


By Abi Tominey-Smith

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