Book Illustration Competition: Paul Cox

Paul Cox talks about the impact of the competition on his career as an illustrator...

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  • Paul Cox
  • Competitions

“The Folio society originally ran a competition within the Royal College of Art illustration department. The annual event was the only project we had that required us to interpret a text with a cohesive sequence of drawings. It was always a demanding challenge, as it resembled a real commission. The competition as it has now evolved, as a partnership between The Folio Society and House of Illustration, is as great an opportunity to rise to the challenge and showcase the work to a much wider public.

Lucky Jim drawing (c) Paul Cox

I interpreted ‘Lucky Jim’ for the competition whilst at RCA, and remember being extremely excited seeing my image of Jim Dixon emerge on the paper. As a result, David Driver, who judged the competition, gave me my first work on the Times newspaper and commissioned my first book with The Folio Society ‘The Irish RM’. I cycled to Castletownshend in Cork where the stories were based and although suffused with local colour and Guinness, my final drawings were rather tight. They have loosened a lot since then!

For over 30 years Folio has been one of my principal publishers for whom I have illustrated some 28 books. For most of these I have worked closely with Joe Whitlock Blundell who has been a guide, support and pleasure to work with and he has allowed me to interpret the books in my own way.

Recognising how to sustain a comic moment where both the text and image combine to create something that is uniquely potent has informed much of my work. The book commissions from The Folio Society have given me many opportunities to pursue this and enhance my approach to illustration.”

The Book Illustration Competition is a partnership between House of Illustration and The Folio Society, with the winner receiving a prestigious £5000 Folio Society Commission. To enter the 2017 competition click here. Deadline for entries 16 January 2017.