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York St John University illustration students receive widespread recognition

Published: 26 June 2023

  •   Featured
Illustration from a children's story book

Illustration students at York St John University have proven their skills and creativity, achieving significant recognition and achievements in the field. Their successes include illustrations published in a new children's book, a nomination for the prestigious World Illustration Awards, and funding awards from York St John University’s Kickstart Programme. 

A standout accomplishment is the inclusion of first year student Jasmine Stephenson's illustrations in newly published children's book, "Henry's Vegetable Plop," authored by Alexander James. Jas's illustrations bring to life the Roald Dahl-inspired tale, following the extraordinary adventures of 10-year-old Henry and his captivating back-garden invention. Embarking on a thrilling journey in an old Land Rover, Henry encounters a host of famous personalities, from beloved TV stars to presidents and even royalty. 

Jas’s designs were chosen following an invitation from the author Alexander James for York St John illustration students to apply for the commission to illustrate his upcoming book.

On being picked from a pool of applicants to illustrate Henry’s Vegetable Plop, Jas said: 

“It’s an incredible feeling to see my illustrations printed in this wonderful story book. Being a part of Henry's Vegetable Plop has been a dream come true and the experience has inspired me to continue working within the publishing industry and to also write and illustrate my own children's books in the future. I was so grateful to be chosen to illustrate this book and am thrilled with the positive response that both the book and the illustrations are receiving." 

In addition to Jas’s entrance into book illustrating, third year student Matt Cole has been longlisted for an Association of Illustrators’ World Illustration Award. Matt’s idiosyncratic style blends traditional watercolour painting with modern, digital techniques. His award entry is an image that was included in a children’s book he’s illustrating for his degree course submission. The protagonist of the story is a young girl called Ivy who journeys through a fantastical, night-time world in a race against the moon. 

Describing his delight in making the longlist, Matt said: 

“The World Illustration Awards represent a unique opportunity to have my work seen by, and to connect with, industry professionals. It’s an honour to have reached this stage and I’m so grateful for the guidance and support I’ve received at York St John University.” 

Congratulations are also due to four other illustration students who have been recognised as aspiring entrepreneurs by the Kickstart Programme at York St John University. The Discover Fund, which provides £400 to students at the early stages of a business idea, has been awarded to Jas Stephenson, 2nd year student Daisy Robson and 3rd year students Ellie Mulligan and Robbie Biggin. Final year student Anna Longville has received a £400 Launch Fund to set up a freelance illustration business which rebrands popular historical sites and spaces using watercolour and traditional inks. 

Professor Helen Julia Minors, Head of School of the Arts at York St John University, expressed her pride in the students' achievements, saying:  

"We are immensely proud of the outstanding accomplishments of our illustration students. Their success is a testament to their exceptional talent, dedication, and the nurturing environment we provide at York St John University. We remain committed to fostering their creative growth and supporting their future endeavours." 

York St John University offers both undergraduate and postgraduate Illustration courses, giving students the opportunity to hone their skills at expressing narratives through images. Teaching takes place via traditional and digital illustration techniques, using industry standard software and equipment. 

For more information about the students’ projects and award funding, see below: 

Henry’s Vegetable Plop 

The World Illustration Awards 2023. The shortlist will be announced on 6 July and winners will be announced on 12 September

The Kickstart Programme at York St John University  

About York St John’s undergraduate Illustration and postgraduate Illustration courses

Image shows: Jas Stephenson's illustrations in Henry's Vegetable Plop

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