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


We shine a spotlight on the personal work of one of our multi-talented book artists. It was Marie-Alice’s love of research and attention to detail that led to her first love, creating her own art books. 

Marie-Alice Harel originally pursued a career in Geosciences for which she has earned a PhD. Her research took her from France to Edinburgh where she now lives. By 2016 the world of illustration beckoned, and she became a full-time artist and illustrator. She went on to win the prestigious 2019 Book Illustration Prize organised by the House of Illustration in association with The Folio Society for her stunning illustrations and book binding for Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.


Personal work is very important to Marie-Alice and her personal projects have opened up different avenues for her commercial work and writing and self-publishing gives her more creative control. She immerses herself in her own projects, often travelling to far flung places where she writes, sketches and takes photographs for inspiration.


Her limited edition artist books include elements that are hand-made and, in the case of her beautiful concertina book, The Book of Anetzar, it is hand-bound with shot cotton, vintage Japanese silk and silk thread.

Her self-published book, Bird People, started out as a collection of portraits of bird people that she drew in her sketchbooks as an exercise to reconnect with her love of drawing and to relax at the end of the day.  It turned into more than 80 illustrations and Marie-Alice successfully published this beautiful book by crowd-funding the project through Kickstarter.

She says, "This book... is a wish to learn to fly, to step out of my skin and see the world from a new angle. It is a love letter to the act of drawing, where every line can be the beginning of a story."

Her upward trajectory continues as in 2022 she was a finalist in the British Book Design and Production Award for her book Hortari . We can’t wait to see where her work takes her next.

Marie-Alice Harel is represented by Arena Illustration.

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