Wolverhampton School of Art

Kate Ackley wins the Orion and Illustration Ltd Student Competition

Kate Ackley

The Orion Publishing Group and the leading illustration agency, Illustration Ltd, have announced that Kate Ackley from the University of Wolverhampton has won their inaugural Student Illustration Competition. 

The Orion & Illustration Ltd Student Illustration Competition was launched on 1 January 2015 to discover and nurture new talent in illustration.  The competition was open to all illustration students, who were challenged to redesign the cover for one of three Orion books:

  • Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
  • Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce
  • Best Knickers Always by Rebecca Perkins



There was a high level of work with 50 entries submitted from colleges across the UK . The panel of judges comprised:

  • Victoria Pearce, Senior Agent, Illustration Ltd
  • Alice Ball, Agent, Illustration Ltd
  • Lisa Milton, MD, General Division, Orion Publishing Group
  • Lucie Stericker, Creative Director, Orion Publishing Group
  • Steve Marking, Art Director, Orion Publishing Group

Lucie Stericker commented: ‘All the judges were extremely impressed by the calibre of entries. The winner considered the whole cover and presented very competent final artworks. Congratulations to Kate’ 

Kate Ackley’s winning entry was a stunning new design for Jostein Gaarder’s phenomenal worldwide bestseller Sophie’s World.  She has won the opportunity to work with the award-winning Art Department at Orion and to have her design appear on the book.  Kate has also won a 12 month mentoring course from Illustration Ltd, who will provide support with her portfolio to prepare it for graduation, and she will also be able to visit the agency in London who will option her work for future representation.

Kate Ackley said: ‘I am extremely delighted to have won the competition and am very excited about the opportunity to work with two such well-established companies at the start of my career. I'm very grateful to have had the chance to illustrate a cover for such an interesting book. My idea was inspired by an intriguing metaphor that likens the universe to a rabbit being pulled from a hat, and references the humans that dwell inside the rabbit's fur.

Victoria Pearce commented:Kate’s use of young fun, friendly, graphic imagery and her dreamy characters immediately jumped out to us.   It feels like a very fresh contemporary take on this philosophical title and we believe it will immediately appeal to a new young audience.   We are excited to mentor Kate over the next year and help her in developing her unique style and build her portfolio.’

The runner-up prize was awarded to Adam Beckett, also of the University of Wolverhampton.  His highly original design for Graham Joyce’s novel, Some Kind of Fairy Tale was highly praised by the judges. 

Victoria Pearce said: ‘The composition was particularly intriguing, specifically the clever design of the lettering.   The abstract perspective works really well for this cover helping to create a thrilling atmosphere.  The confident use of limited, bold colour adds to the strength making it very appropriate to the story’

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