For the second year running, Alfie Steveson-Kelly, one of our third year Illustration students, has received a High Commendation from Macmillan, for his children’s book illustrations.
The Macmillan Prize for Children’s Picture Book Illustration is an internationally-renowned award, established by Macmillan Children’s Books to stimulate new work from young illustrators in art schools and to help them take the first steps in their professional careers.
This year, Alfie submitted a self-authored picture book called Huldufolk; a story about a young boy who tries to protect his local woodland, and the trees that come alive within it.
When asked how it felt to receive the High Commendation for a second time, Alfie said: “It’s a great achievement, I couldn’t be happier. I’m aware of how highly this competition is respected across the nation. It has discovered many new talents that are now illustrating picture books. Furthermore, presenting my work alongside other new emerging talents brings me great please, knowing I’m bracketed with some exceptional talent.
“I feel very lucky and honoured to be able to go up to London and meet professionals and experts in the field of publishing.”
Alfie told us about his book: “Huldufolk centres on a forest bursting with life, but all of this is at risk of being lost. Here we see a hidden life that humans do not notice; the life of the trees. They have secret lives and even dance when no-one is watching. The struggle of the character – ‘the boy’ – is seen as he watches builders arrive at the forest, threatening the lives of his friends.
“Eventually, it all becomes too much for him, and in one last desperate attempt he bravely runs in front of the machines to stop even more of his friends from being chopped down. In doing this, a tree reaches out, blocking the machine from hitting the boy. This leads to a shocking revelation for the builders: the trees are alive.”
The narrative aims to raise awareness of deforestation, putting it into a form that children can understand. He used colouring pencils, ink and digital colouring to produce the book.
Alfie explained: “I seem to have an attachment to trees. My house is surrounded by woods, so looking out my window and always seeing them has had an influence on my work. I also have an interest in body language within art and how this successfully portrays a person’s emotions. Consequently, I have avoided making my theme of deforestation too obvious.”
Alfie’s book is highly visual, with very little text in it: “Being selective with the words allows the illustration to breathe across the page, creating an emotive experience for the reader.”
After graduating this summer, Alfie plans on establishing himself within the art community and working towards his main goal - getting a book deal.
You can check out some more of his work here.