After a panel of judges reviewed the work of 730 illustrators from 58 countries, the Folio Society has announced the winner of the 2023 Folio Book Illustration Award.
Emerging as the overall winner from a strong field of competitors, artist Cristina Bencina took home the award. In the year She is the second winner of the Folio Society’s spectacular annual free-entry competition in 2022 to mark its 75th anniversary.
The competition is open to illustrators, student or professional, not previously held by the Folio Society. At the same time, FBIA aims to discover, promote and support new artistic talent from around the world.
For the 2023 contest, entrants selected a single scene from acclaimed science fiction author Ursula K. They are tasked with showing ‘The Fliers of Gy’ to Gy. As for the artists’ work, last year’s FBI winner Evangeline Gallagher and Theo Downes-Le Guin, Ursula K. A judging panel of five experts, including LeGuin’s son and a literary executive, had the difficult but exciting task of selecting five runners-up. -Up and one winner from hundreds of entries.
This year’s winner Christina Bencina, an artist and illustrator based in Colorado, will receive a £2,000 cash prize, £500 worth of Folio Society books and a portfolio review with Folio Society art directors. Her work by Ursula K. Le Guin describes a ritual in which a chosen few who possess the ability to fly are thrown from a cliff and chased by arrows in a community: “Whether she flies or falls, all the tribesmen shout with joy and shoot arrows and arrows at her.” Complex in form and balanced in composition, Bencina’s example was chosen for the imaginary image of the exiled flyer.
Theo Downs-Le Guin, Trustee, Ursula K. LeGuin, a member of the Literary Trustees and judging panel, said: “My mother loved working with illustrations, she loved seeing different interpretations of her work. Cristina Bencina’s composition stood out for the whole panel for its flexibility in the story and its original interpretation. The contrast between the dark values of the illustration and the flames at the top was striking.
Raquel Leys Allon, Folio Art Director and FBI Judge, said of the winning entry: “Christina Benicina’s piece instantly catches the eye with its strong graphic design. The colors emerging from the flames on top of the mountain in the dark landscape guide your eye around the image. Christina captured the perfect fall vibe.”
Folio Art Director and FBIA judge Sheri Gee said, “This example has incredibly subtle line work that made us look at the characters’ feathers and examine them closely. And a nice element of blending trees and bows visually. We also loved the fun attitude that made it stand out right away.
The judging panel selected five runners-up who will each receive £500 worth of Folio Society books and a personal portfolio review with Folio Society art directors. Their work is displayed on this page. They include Tommy Barkley (UK), Meran Coleman (UK, previously long-listed in FBIA 2022), Dan Owen (UK), Nate Switzer (USA) and Jens Maria Weber (Germany). Each of these artists presents a unique interpretation of the story and feathered men.
FBA 2022 winner Evangeline Gallagher said of this year’s runners-up: “Narrowing down these entries from such an amazing group was a daunting task! I pick up a book illustrated by one of these artists. I really enjoyed seeing the different interpretations on the long listed submissions. From Dan Owen’s passionate and dramatic visuals to Nate Switzer’s beautifully composed scenes, each entry made the judging process both challenging and fun.
Folio Society Publishing Director Tom Walker said: “The range of display styles for FBI 2023 was amazing: from the classic and painterly, to the bold and informal, and all shades in between. The diversity and quality of the nominations show both the depth of Le Guin’s writing and his prowess in the world of illustration today.
The Folio Society, based in London, publishes beautifully designed books – available worldwide only at foliosociety.com. It publishes some of the best names in publishing worldwide with beautiful, highly detailed and collector’s editions.