Derwent Art Prize

The Derwent Art Prize 2018 is currently calling for entries.  Work must be original, created in pencil (including water-soluble, pastel, graphite, charcoal or coloured pencil) and must not exceed 182cm in its greatest dimension.

Applications must be made online at where a full set of Rules & Guidelines can be found.  Deadline is 5pm on Tuesday 8 May.


Read an interview with previous shortlisted entrant Anya Sušanj…

anna sujanz


I’m an illustrator from Croatia currently based in London, where I got my MA in illustration at the University of the Arts London. Being an avid reader of both fiction and non fiction, my interests mostly lie within editorial, book, and concept illustration. With a strong love of comic books and animated films, I like to dabble with the whimsical, peculiar and odd, foraging for inspiration in Nature’s shapes and away from the city, but also in old stories and legends.





Tell us a little about Underwater Interview, the graphite on paper piece that was shortlisted for the latest edition of the Prize.

The piece is part of a series I made for my graduation project, inspired by one of my favourite books – City by Alessandro Baricco. The protagonist of the book is a troubled, lonely boy genius who has two imaginary friends to keep him company. This particular piece depicts his peculiar way of escaping the world the adults around him constantly try to force him into. I tried to use the text as reference, but to make the image more than just an expansion of the narrative itself; it combines multiple elements from the book as well as my own perception of it, depicting the surreal and whimsical state of the protagonist’s mind.

anna sujanz image.jpg
Underwater Interview

Of your practice, do you ever find that your work moves past the peculiar towards the carnivalesque or even the macabre?

I have always had a deep fascination with unusual characters and stories and I have been told my illustrations are quite sharp and heavy, so I presume that stems from the same need to depict that which is not ordinary. In that sense I like to play with scale and composition, with colours and characters, without just describing a brief or a text directly.

Is there a particular drawing practitioner who inspires you or who has influenced your practice in some way?

Quite a difficult one, I must say. I follow many amazing illustrators and they have all, in a way, inspired me and made me grow. Still, I’m trying to find my own voice and go with it. When it comes to pencil, well, that had always been the medium I went to as a source of relaxation and pure joy, this project being the first time I actually tried expanding on it and making something more than sketches and doodles.

What do you think is the value of drawing in today’s art world?

I honestly ask myself this question quite often these days; for me drawing has always been an escapism, a way to show the world what’s hidden in my head, a way to express myself. When I was just starting my BA, I felt drawing was on the sidelines of the Art World and that more prominent positions were given to other forms of Fine Art. I guess all these things do conform to trends as well – I personally believe the art world is very much based upon them. Still, drawing has always been at the core of any artistic practice – no matter whether one is a sculptor, graphic designer or costume designer, they will always use drawing as the basis for whatever project they’re working on. Drawing, in itself, is immensely broad in regards to what can be done with it, so I think whether its value is more hidden, or more explicit, it is omnipresent and it will continue to be that way. Humans have an intrinsic need to draw, after all.

What do you think it is that distinguishes illustration from drawing?

I believe one is a discipline and the other an artistic practice. For me, those two things overlap, as I am an illustrator who uses drawing as a means to an end, but illustration itself can be bigger than drawing (collage, painting, sculpting, photography), while still being constricted by its applied nature. Illustration is a discipline that revolves around briefs and clients, it is connected to specific mediums and functions as an answer to very specific questions. Drawing can also be that, but within illustration – in itself it is not bound by any such thing and can fluctuate between fine art and applied art easily.
In short, illustrators do not have to draw to be illustrators, but they often do and, like me, they often use this approach to convey their concepts and ideas to the client and to the world.

Going forward, how do you see your practice evolving?

I would like to continue developing my pencil work in regards to combining it with ink and digital processing. I see myself moving forward in regards the use of texture and colour, making my illustrations more vibrant and detailed.

This guest post was supplied by the Derwent Art Prize.