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Yasmeen Ismail Wins World Illustration Awards 2020

last updated 23 October 2020


We are thrilled that Bright’s Yasmeen Ismail has won the 2020 World Illustration Award Professional Children’s Book Category with her picture book Would You Like a Banana?, published by Walker Books.

Yasmeen’s delightfully funny picture book featuring a very stubborn gorilla will have the whole family laughing. A brilliant and hilarious take on this all-too-familiar family situation.


Established over 40 years ago, the AOI’s World Illustration Awards are widely respected across the industry, offering a comprehensive insight into the ideas, trends and techniques that are at the forefront of illustration today. Previous winners of the award include Bright Artists Benji Davies for Grandad’s Island (Simon & Schuster), and Fiona Woodcock for LOOK (Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins US).


“I am really delighted to have won this prize. I have been completely surprised by it and my ego is sufficiently massaged now. I am so grateful to the judges and everyone at the AOI for this. Thank you thank you thank you!”


Yasmeen on creating the book:

“I was commissioned by Walker Books UK to write and illustrate my picture book, Would You Like a Banana?. I love working with Walker and writing this one was so much fun. They gave me a lot of freedom with the art and I felt that I was allowed to really play with the style of illustration. I had to come up with the story. I really enjoy writing and it’s something that goes along naturally with planning the sketches. The brief was very open, ‘Write a picture book’. So I wrote a picture book!”

“I usually do a lot of visual research. The story itself took a few drafts to get right, and once that was done I could focus on the art. I looked at a lot of magazine covers, collage work and photography… and of course, I needed some visual references for gorillas!”


Yasmeen on her process:

“I used a lot of materials. I used gouache (Winsor and Newton), Conté, charcoal, colour pencils (Supracolour), pencils, Cretacolours AquaMonolith pencils, oil pastels, collage and watercolours, coloured card and tin-foil. Mainly on Bockingford Watercolour Paper, and assemble a lot in Adobe Photoshop. Basically anything I could get my hands on!”

“My process is always in stages. Once the writing is done (and usually quite a bit of sketching happens with that), and it is nailed down (and I have approval), I will move on to full on sketching and get the roughs completed. Once they are in good shape I can start artworking. The artwork is usually quite close to the sketch, but the colours and style is very organic around the plan. A few of the spreads changed completely. When I start artworking I paint and draw freehand based on the sketches. The art is done in parts and then I scan it all in and arrange it in photoshop.”


“During this project I learned to try new things. I learned about moving away from what I usually do (focussing on watercolours) and to really mix it up with different materials. It was refreshing to try things that I always wanted to try.


Yasmeen’s thank-yous!

“A particularly BIG and LARGE THANK YOU to my Editor, Denise Johnstone-Burt, and my Art Director, Louise Jackson, at Walker Books for being the most hilarious and talented team to work with. More huge thanks to my very supportive, funny and wise agent, Arabella Stein at The Bright Agency. Thanks to Vicki Willden-Lebrecht for giving me a chance all those years ago. Thanks to my husband for the flowers outside, for being so supportive and handsome. To my son, Ted for providing joy and inspiration. To Sarah Slater, for looking after Ted so well while I worked and to Betty for providing me with company and sitting on my work so often with her mucky paws.”


Yasmeen has previously received a number of accolades for her work including the V&A Best Illustrated Book Award and The New York Times Best Illustrated Book. She has been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, longlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, and nominated for the National Cartoonists Society ‘Silver Reuben’ Award, and the BookTrust’s Great Book Guide 2020 among others.

Yasmeen is represented by Arabella Stein — to work with Yasmeen please contact Arabella. You can see more of Yasmeen’s work in her portfolio.

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