The SAA are very pleased to be supporting the World Illustration Awards by sponsoring The SAA Agents Award for New Talent.


Bright’s Senior Licensing Agent, and newly-appointed director, Hannah Curtis, was honoured to be invited to join the small-but-select panel of judges to decide the award for SAA New Talent in Illustration Associate Prize at the prestigious New Designers Awards, taking place at London’s Business Design Centre this week.

We caught up with Hannah after the ceremony to hear about the exhilarating - but also slightly daunting - process of appraising the assembled new illustration talent on display, and selecting just one winner…


New Designers is renowned for launching the next generation of design talent in the UK. The breadth and wealth of skills is extraordinary and exciting. Graduates are transitioning from the comfort of their degree into the commercial world of design. Specifically looking for illustrators, the appointed SAA agents met to discuss their criteria and how best to sift through the pool of talent.

New Designers Show 2018, Week 2 (4-7 July), inside the Business Design Centre; the SAA judging panel roundtable (literally!); smart stationery, and helpful button badge, for the selection process

We all agreed we were looking for fresh, inspired, new and exciting design. So many trends just keep filtering through, and there is an air of ‘I’ve seen it all before’ despite the creative skill and execution demonstrated. We wanted something new, something that stood out and something that no one else is doing. We were also interested in the commerciality of the work and the illustrator: as Agents we are promoting our illustrators’ work to clients on a daily basis, so they need to be professional, personable, hard working and driven.

Initially scouting alone, the judges came back together to discuss and put their favourites forward. The five creative minds really came together and gelled as a team, helping each other see things in the artists’ portfolios that we might have otherwise missed. We then set off as a team to revisit our shortlist - possibly a slightly terrifying experience for the graduates who saw us coming, mob-handed!

Just a sample of the creativity on display at the show in Week 2

It was clear when we looked again at Ella Rose Brown’s work that we had all fallen in love. Her vibrant use of colour immediately draws you in; inspired by fashion and textiles, she creates beautiful work with an emphasis on detail and a love for culture. Ella was passionate, well-presented and very determined. Her portfolio was vast and, although varied, it was consistently strong. It was clear from the judges’ excitement that we had found our winner!

Ella Rose Brown, Manchester School of Art, proudly displaying her richly deserved SAA New Talent in Illustration Associate Prize

We also had three commendation certificates to distribute, so it was back to the judges’ lounge to decide on our three runners up. Again we wanted to concentrate on originality, fresh ideas and a potential commerciality. George Goodwin from Plymouth College of Art offered a well-executed, fun and expressive style: with huge amounts of detail and bold use of colours, his work really stood out for the judges.

George Goodwin: ‘The Jungle’, excerpt from a crowd-funded illustrated picture and activity book,Don’t Shoot the Long Tailed Tiger.

Maisy Summer Lewin-Sanderson, also from Manchester School of Art, demonstrated a fresh and exciting technique; her mixed-media approach used illustration and collage in sensitive proportions. Maisy’s portfolio showed a strong use of colour, expressive characterisation and a clear narrative.

Maisy Summer Lewin-Sanderson: ‘Night and Day’, spread from a self-directed publication about the bar and music venue of the same name in Manchester’s Northern Quarter

A portfolio that kept drawing us back in, and provided interesting discussion, was Carl Tai Thompson. Carl’s illustrations depict serial killings perpetrated by a murderous alter-ego, ‘Snake Eye’s, stalking India and Pakistan. His interest in culture and colour was obvious, and his conceptual ideas - which were passionately displayed - was inspiring.

Carl Tai Thompson: ‘Yard Sale’, 7-colour screen print.

A HUGE congratulations to all the graduates who took part in this year’s New Designers, and especially to our winner and runners up: you are at the beginning of a very exciting road, one that will offer beautiful opportunities doing what you love - and hopefully excelling at it. Choose the job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life!


New Designers SAA New Talent in Illustration Associate Prize

The SAA Associate Prize is awarded to a graduate specialising in illustration who is judged to have the most fresh and inspiring work within the Visual Communications zone at the show.

The prize will be six months career development by one of the SAA’s member agents which will include mentoring, portfolio advice and promotion through the SAA’s website and social media channels.

Website: New Designers Awards


Ella Rose Brown

– Manchester School of Art


George Goodwin

– Plymouth College of Art

Maisy Summer Lewin

– Manchester School of Art

Carl Tai Thompson

– University of Portsmouth


Victoria – Illustration Web; Alice – Illustration Web; Hannah - The Bright Agency; Alex – The Artworks; Tom – Handsome Frank

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