'Boy with Invisible Skin' book wins Best New Blood prize

Issue date: 17 July 2009

'Boy with Invisible Skin' by Becki Harper An Illustration student from the University of the West of England has won a coveted Best New Blood award at the annual D&AD exhibition in London for her book 'The Boy with Invisible Skin'.

'The Boy with invisible Skin' by Becki Harper is a children's picture book telling the story of how a boy who is born with see-through skin tries to fit in with the other children at school.

Becki describes her book, “The central character, Charles, is a metaphorical figure illustrating how you can fit in despite looking very different to everyone around you. I have taken this to some extremes and some images are a bit gory so the book is probably suitable for seven years and upwards.

“Essentially Charles is an experiment gone wrong resulting in him having no skin. He is loved by his parents but they stop him from going out apart from at Halloween when he manages to fit in by throwing a sheet over his head. However when he starts school all this changes.

“The character grew out of my research and appreciation of the aesthetics of medical science and anatomy. I am influenced by illustrators like Mark Ryden and Simon Bartram, particularly in respect of their attention to detail. The psychology of fitting in despite being different is one that I feel will resonate with young and older readers alike.

“I've used quirky ideas that children will enjoy. In an art lesson the children are making handprints but Charles' hand print is a skeleton hand. When he first starts school he feels he has more in common with the anatomical drawings on the walls than with his classmates. But the story ends happily. Charles builds a topsy turvey machine that accidently zaps the other children, instead of himself, and mixes them up so that they look different, and he doesn't feel so much like an outsider. The extreme metaphors illustrate how anyone who initially feels out of their comfort zone because of the way they look, or because they are placed in a new environment, can eventually find ways of coping and joining in.”

As a Best New Blood winner, Becki will be invited to join the D&AD Graduate Placement Scheme and the D&AD talent pool, which is an opportunity to showcase her work on D&AD's creative talent website alongside other national and international award winners.

On winning the Best New Blood prize Becki said, “Exhibiting at D&AD was very exciting as it is a showcase of some of the best student work from across the country. I was really happy to win a Best New Blood award as it will have drawn more people in to look at my work during the exhibition and helped to get my name out there.”

This is the second year that UWE Illustration students have taken part the D&AD Awards, held at London's Olympia.

Christine Hill, Illustration Programme Leader, said “We are delighted that the originality and creativity of Becki's work has been recognised by this much sought-after award, especially when judged against such strong competition from other universities across the UK. This is a fantastic opportunity for Becki to gain valuable exposure to the creative community and we wish her every success in her future career.”

For further recent Creative Art stories see:
Student wins Macmillan Prize of Children's Book Illustration

UWE illustration team celebrate competition hat trick

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