The 10th Book Illustration Competition theme is Love Poems which was selected and edited by Imtiaz Dharker. The winner will be commissioned to complete a further six illustrations and a binding for the book which will be published by The Folio Society.
Anastasia Izlesou is one of the 25 illustrators longlisted for the The People’s Choice Award at Book Illustrators Competition 2020. Anastasia is a multidisciplinary illustrator and designer from the UK and studied at Arts University Bournemouth.
Hi Anastasia, thanks for talking to TNC, how's your week looking?
Hi! I’ve been actually taking a little break after finishing a project, so I’m very refreshed!
Congratulations on making the longlist for the BIC 2020 People's Choice Award, what does it mean for you be part of this competition?
Thank you – I still can’t believe it happened. It’s definitely been a huge boost for my creative self-esteem to be listed among such talented artists.
Do you ever feel any apprehension when you hand over your work like this to the pubic?
To be honest, not really. I’ve never shied away from the attention or been uncomfortable sharing anything I’ve created. I guess it’s because I’ve never taken myself too seriously.
Is this the first time you have been part of such a competition like this?
I’ve been participating in competitions of all sorts as long as I can remember, though more often than not I don’t get further than the submission stage. I love responding to briefs and a creative challenge associated, so I do it over and over again.
Can you tell me a little bit about the work you submitted to BIC 2020?
The brief was to illustrate 3 poems by Imtiaz Dharker, Emily Dickinson and John Donne for the upcoming anthology of love poems.
The theme for this years BIC 2020 is Love Poems, how did you go about creating your pieces based on this theme?
I knew that I wanted to pursue a rather abstract approach to illustrating the poems from the very beginning.
For me, love has no gender or race, and is something that comes from within yourself, so I really wanted to depict that.
I’ve spent some time remembering how it felt to be falling in love for the first time and took a lot of inspiration from that. I wanted to show the feelings of the inner turmoil, the longing and the passion, so the final pieces are as much about myself as about the poems.
What was the most challenging aspect of creating these pieces for BIC 2020?
I guess the task of visualising an abstract concept has an inherent challenge in it – how does one translate feelings into visual language? Also, avoiding clichés.
Did you use any love poems to help you whilst you created your pieces for the competition?
I definitely reread the poems for the competition multiple times and used them as a base for my illustrations.
Do you have a favourite love poem?
I’m not very big on poetry myself, but I do love “Lilichka! In Place of a Letter” by Vladimir Mayakovski.
Have you always had a passion for design and illustration?
I would say so. Like many creatives, I’ve started making stuff in childhood and haven’t stopped since.
"I feel inspired by so many things, and all of them feed into my work one way or another."
How much would you say your style and approach to you illustration and design has evolved since you started?
I think it changes constantly – I keep learning, getting new skills and having new experiences, and all of it is reflected in my work. I hope it stays that way.
What inspires your work?
I always feel a bit lost at this question – I feel inspired by so many things, and all of them feed into my work one way or another. There are themes are return over and over to, though – natural sciences, mythology and folklore, all things kitsch and macabre.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your work?
My art is a free territory – anyone is free to interpret it their own way. I just get happy whenever someone other than my mom likes it.