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Gray’s students make shortlist in book design competition


Three students at Gray’s School of Art have made the shortlist in a Scottish book design cover competition.

Kieren McDonaldEdinburgh-based publisher Floris Books has shortlisted 10 designers for this year’s Kelpies Design & Illustration Prize, with Communication Design students Kieren McDonald (21), Xanthe Bodington (22) and Manuel Brauer (30) all making the cut.

The prize, now in its third year, challenged designers and illustrators in Scotland to design a new cover for Mark Smith’s novel ‘Slugboy Saves the World’, which won the Kelpies Prize in 2015 for Scottish children’s writing.

The winner, who will be announced on February 26, will receive £250 and may be offered the chance to work with Floris Books to create the book’s final cover.

Xanthe Bodington SlugboyAn exhibition of the 10 shortlisted entries will on display in The Creative Exchange, Leith, until March 4 and members of the public can also vote for a ‘People’s Choice’ award online.

Gray’s student Lewis Copland won last year’s prize for his cover for a new edition of Allan Campbell McLean’s cold war spy adventure The Hill of the Red Fox.

Final year student Kieren, who has made the competition shortlist for the second time, said: “I was shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize last year so when I saw the new brief I decided to enter again. As my work is very illustration based it was refreshing to take on a challenge that would require me to combine hand drawn and design elements.


Manuel Brauer Slugboy“When I heard the title ‘Slugboy Saves the World’ I thought it sounded like the headline of a superhero newspaper. I also took inspiration from comic books and designed wavy panels to break up the image. I used a mixture of blues and pinks to ensure the cover wasn't gender specific, and the wiggly black lines mimic the doodles that all children do on their school books.”

Xanthe, who is also in her fourth year, said: "I had heard of the competition from last year as a few of my fellow course mates entered and inspired me to enter for the next one to come round. As graphic illustration is a field I would like to pursue, I thought this would be a good opportunity to challenge myself in a fun and unique project.

“My concept was to bring the humorous quirky main character to life by making him the centre focus, as well as including the radioactive slug with its slime trail made up of small radioactive symbols. The other idea behind this was to make the symbols glow in the dark so it implies that the slug has made physical contact with the book, bridging the story and the physical world of the readers."

Third year student Manuel said: “I'm quite into my illustration so when the opportunity to create a cover for Slugboy came up, I knew I had to give it a go.

“The design is definitely inspired by the simplistic aesthetic of Adventure Time, but I wanted to retain a sense of Scottish identity, illustrating a setting that combines St Andrews Cathedral and Urquhart Castle into one frame.”

‘Slugboy Saves the World’ is a comedy book about the world’s worst superhero, aimed at children aged 8 to 12.

View the shortlisted designs and vote for your favourite

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Jenny RushCommunications Officer | Design and Technology