We sat down with this year's Carmelite Picture Book Prize winner, third-year Illustration student Riko Sekiguchi, to discuss her thoughts on the prize, life in Falmouth and what the future holds. The Carmelite Prize, organised by Hachette Children's Group, recognises excellence in children's book illustration and aims to inspire the next generation of illustrators.
Tell us a little about your illustration and the story behind it
'Where the Sea Meets the Sky' is a story, written by Peter Bailey, about a young sea otter named Sophie that ventures into the big blue to find the place where the sea and the sky meet. Throughout the story, Sophie encounters multiple sea creatures and my illustration is one of the double spreads where she comes face to face with an enormous whale! The story sparks an exciting vision for readers, from comedic moments to more sentimental instances. I thoroughly relished in the story and the creation of its visual language.
How does it feel to be awarded the Carmelite Picture Book Prize?
I was extremely honoured and proud to have been chosen in the top three, alongside two fantastic illustrators. It feels very surreal to have won the prize and I don't think it'll quite sink in until the meeting with the art directors regarding the publication of the book. The whole journey with the Carmelite Picture Book Prize Competition has been a wonderful experience. I'm very much looking forward to our next meeting.
What are your influences and inspirations when creating an illustration?
Animals and all living creatures! Moving to Falmouth after growing up in London was a huge change initially, but I absolutely loved it, particularly being so close to the sea. I often go down to explore the beach and the encounters I've had with sea life are reflected in my illustrations, as I love to draw fish and watery landscapes. When I saw the brief for the Carmelite Prize, I knew I wanted to do it as it was such an ideal project to my style of work.
How does studying at Falmouth help to hone your skills?
Studying Illustration at Falmouth has been such an incredible experience, its helped me to grow and develop as an artist and it wouldn't have been the same without the talented tutors that run the course. The tutors, being artists that are currently working in the industry, offer so much support and advice from their experiences. These insights into the creative industries have really helped me to prepare to work professionally as an illustrator.
Do you have any future projects planned?
Yes, I am planning to start an exciting narrative project soon about fruit and vegetable animal hybrid creatures, to help educate children about the nutritional factors of food, how they grow and what they are consuming. I think it's important that children are taught about food, as it's an area that is often overlooked. I'll be sending this off to an Art Director at Hachette, as she was intrigued by the idea whilst looking through my portfolio.