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“I was really excited to be able to attend the London Book Fair for the first time. The first thing I noticed is that many publishers – including children’s book publishers that I follow on Twitter – had stands at the fair. That was interesting to see, particularly because the stands were quite fun and decorative.”

Earlier this year, Floris Books was delighted to reveal the winner of the Kelpies Illustration Prize 2018 (with a little bit of help from Vivian French, of course)!

Entrants were challenged to create a cover for Soldier’s Game from James Killgore. Our judging panel looked for a bold and earnest design that would appeal to the book’s target audience of 8-12 year old readers, and that clearly communicated the football and First World War themes of the book.

Winner Moira Scicluna Zahra impressed both the judging panel and Vivian with striking and sensitive representation of the protagonists, her skilful illustration of First World War motifs, and a well-considered design for the full book cover.

As part of her prize, Moira travelled to this year’s London Book Fair for a professional portfolio review, provided by Kelpies Illustration Prize sponsors Advocate Art. Moira describes her LBF experience as “positively overwhelming”.

“I was really excited to be able to attend for the first time. The first thing I noticed is that many publishers – including children’s book publishers that I follow on Twitter – had stands at the fair. That was interesting to see, particularly because the stands were quite fun and decorative.”

Edinburgh-based Moira is originally from Malta, and she had illustrated posters and booklets for this year’s Malta National Book Council stand. Her unexpected visit to London gave her “a bonus [chance] to see them live.”

The portfolio review itself was Moira’s highlight: “I’ve never actually presented my work live to a professional illustration agency before so I was quite nervous, but the feedback was invaluable. I think one of the most helpful comments I got from Kate was the fact that she was interested in my variety of work. I had the impression that illustration agencies were only interested in seeing one specific style. While this may be true for some, it seems all agencies are different. Kate gave me various creative tips that I’ve already taken on board when working on my present projects.”

And the best thing about the event?

“The biggest surprise from my professional portfolio review was that Kate enjoyed my work and asked me to submit it to the agency to hopefully be represented by them in the near future. I did so as soon as I returned to Edinburgh and am now waiting eagerly to see what comes out of it!”


Run by Floris Books, the Kelpies Illustration Prize is open to all illustrators and designers based in Scotland. The prize challenges imaginative and talented creatives to come up with a new cover for a Kelpies novel that will appeal to the 8-12 readership.

Find out more about past winners of the Kelpies Illustration Prize here, follow @DiscoverKelpies on Twitter or Instagram.

 

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