Editor’s Column

We had 4,368 entries submitted to this year’s competition, a significant drop from last year, but not totally unexpected. In addition to the slow economy, we had to move the deadline date up two months to accommodate our new publishing schedule, which caught a few illustrators by surprise. Nonetheless, jurors were impressed with the quality and variety of submissions.

Go to Jurors Biographies

“Coming from editorial publishing, it was especially encouraging to see the robust advertising category—in the same way that I give a little cheer every time I see an animation or illustration in a TV commercial or print ad,” said juror Joan Ferrell. “Illustration still has the power to communicate, inspire and, yes, sell, in a more innovative and effective way, and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.”

“It seems that portraits were the hot ticket, which was great to see,” said juror Mark Murphy. “There were many different styles, drawings and paintings.”

“There was a clear distinction between the artwork chosen and the ones that weren’t,” said juror Rob Wilson. “When a simple, well-executed piece with a strong, clear idea presented itself it was somewhat jarring. As ever, concept is king—or queen.”

When asked what was new, several jurors commented on the trend toward a more hand-drawn look. “I was pleasantly surprised to see that the infatuation with ‘the look of technology’ seems to be over,” juror Melanie Doherty said. “More often than not, I was amazed to learn that an illustration was actually computer-generated, because it looked so convincingly painted or screen-printed.” Ferrell added, “No surprise when considering the larger visual (and emotional/political/economic, etc.) landscape, which is why the trend back to a more innocent, handmade feeling provides such an interesting counterpoint.”

“I saw a lot of illustration that I would describe as decorative as opposed to narrative,” juror C.F. Payne said. “There were some complicated images that showed great effort and imagination, but much of the work was simple line work with flat color, and the narrative element was not as represented as iconic symbolism.”

“Many commercial illustrators who create gallery work were well-represented, although there is always room for more.” —Mark Murphy

When asked about the future, jurors were cautiously optimistic. “While publishing saw a swing away from illustration in favor of photography over the last decade, I think it’s going to swing back towards smart, conceptual illustrations,” Wilson said. “This is why it’s so important that an artist have something to say, a unique voice that is reflected not just in technique but in problem-solving. The illustration industry will continue to be led by talent not afraid to originate and deliver solutions to complex problems,” Murphy added.

When looking at other forms of revenue, Doherty would like to see more museums exhibiting illustration. “It’s become such a creative and evolved art form, just as exciting as much of what I see in museums,” she said. “And compared to ‘fine art,’ an original illustration is affordable.”

“New markets are opening to illustrators,” Payne said. “Imagery for the gaming industry is growing as well as the film industry. Many illustrators are finding the graphic novel industry open to new visions and opportunity. The issue for many will be whether the financial reward will be worth the tremendous effort and will it sustain them throughout a career. Just as in years past, talent and drive will be the defining factors for a successful career in illustration.”

“I am continually stunned by the sheer volume of excellent illustration that’s out there in seemingly endless supply.” —Joan Ferrell

This year’s jurying began on Sunday morning, January 30. We worked in two large conference halls, each equipped with projectors for digital entries and six rows of tables for tear sheets and proofs.

The jurors worked in two groups of three with Jean Coyne acting as the sixth judge during the screening. All categories had been divided so each team screened half of the entries submitted. The judges alternated between viewing a session of projected digital files and then a set-up of print entries. Any juror could place an illustration in the finals by handing a printed piece to a member of our staff. Digital files were screened by checking the “in” or “out” column on prepared scoring sheets.

The final voting took place on Monday with all five jurors working together. Print entries were again spread out on the tables. Two paper cups, one white for “in,” the other red for “out,” with slots cut in the bottom, were placed upside down to the right of the pieces. The jurors voted by putting a different colored tile into the bottom of the appropriate cup. The different colored tiles allowed us to make sure that every entry was voted on by every judge. Finalists submitted as digital files were again voted on by each juror checking “in” or “out” on scoring sheets. A simple majority was required for acceptance.

Judges were not permitted to vote on projects they were directly involved in creating. When a judge’s piece was in the finals, either Jean or I would cast the fifth vote.

I would like to thank each of the judges for their conscientious efforts in selecting our 51st Annual Exhibition. —Patrick Coyne ca

Jurors Biographies


Rob Wilson

Art Director


Rob Wilson is Playboy magazine's art director. He joined the company in 1998 as a designer for Playboy Special Editions and Playboy.com. Prior to his role as art director, he served as deputy art director, and was instrumental in developing redesigns for the front and back of the magazine in addition to the feature sections. He received his BFA from the University of Kansas in 1998, and his work has been recognized by Communication Arts, Graphis, Print and Spectrum.


Melanie Doherty

Creative Director/Founder

Melanie Doherty Design

Melanie Doherty is the creative director and founder of Melanie Doherty Design in San Francisco. The studio's work focuses on brand development, social change and education and has been recognized in various publications including Communication Arts, Graphis and Print. Doherty teaches a course on Transition to Professional Practice and sits on the thesis committee at California College of the Arts, and she is currently working on a five-year photography/book project on reconstructing memory in Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi.


Joan Ferrell

Design Director

ALM Media

Joan Ferrell is design director of ALM Media in New York. She has been designing and art directing magazines for 25 years at publications as diverse as Travel & Leisure, Working Mother and The American Lawyer and its many sibling publications at ALM Media. Ferrell received a BA in fine art and English from St. Olaf College and an MA in teaching, with a concentration in photography, from Stanford University. Her work has been recognized by national creative organizations and magazines including The Society of Publication Designers, Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Communication Arts, Folio and Print.


Mark Murphy


Murphy Design

Mark Murphy, based in San Diego, California, is a film director, author, publisher and designer who actively archives world-class artists. Over the past twenty years, Murphy has educated, exhibited and published artists who celebrate the visual narrative arts. In 1991, Murphy Design and Murphy Fine Art Publishing were founded to act as consistent resources for inspired artists, original books, corporate collaborations and all around breeding ground for raw talent.


C.F. Payne



C.F. Payne has worked for 30 years as a freelance illustrator, first in Dallas, Texas and then in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a 1976 graduate of Miami University and the Illustrators Workshop. Payne is currently the Chair of the Illustration Department at Columbus College of Art and Design, where he has taught illustration for the past thirteen years. He also teaches illustration with Mark and John English at the Illustration Academy and the graduate program at the University of Harford under the direction of Murray Tinkelman.

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