Illustration Awards 2016- A night of music, wine and Illustration

lA night of music, wine and Illustration- Illustration Awards 2016


Last night was the culmination of our Illustration Awards Project, a collaboration with the University of Ulster. Turning our office into a modern art installation, we invited the students and their friends to come and enjoy an evening with wine and canapés and music from local artist Owen Denvir. This was a new venture for us to explore and promote how powerful it is when businesses and arts come together to combine their skills to create something bold and new.

The PBD Illustration Awards are part of a unique partnership between Pale Blue Dot (PBD) and Ulster University (UU) with support from Arts and Business NI; including a live competition brief, professional talks/workshops/feedback and a prestigious illustration exhibition. The project allows illustration students from Belfast School of Art hands-on access to the expertise of industry partners, developing meaningful and sustainable business relationships that actively invest in shaping their future careers.

Christine Blaney, Senior Lecturer, BSA.

Our partnership with the University of Ulster, backed by Arts and Business NI challenged us to create a project around corporate responsibility. So we decided to have a bit of fun with it, running an illustration competition and a series of technical master classes for young adults. Ulster University’s, Belfast School of Art, made the competition part of the course for their second and third year Illustration students.

We wanted to replicate and recreate an agency experience for the students. That feeling of working on a live brief, so we set out our own brief for the students.

The Brief:

Pale Blue Dot is named after the book written by cosmologist Carl Sagan. Sagan challenged the centuries old belief about our importance in the universe. It’s this disruptive angle that as an agency we explore in the way we work. Constantly seeking to challenge the status quo creating bold new ways for organisations to communicate.

It was this sense of disruption that we wanted to celebrate with this brief.

Your illustration should make us question something that we take for granted or accept without giving a second thought. It can be something big, or small. Specific to NI or a global concept.

Whatever the subject, the winning illustration will be the one that challenges us the most, makes us think differently about something we thought we knew.

We had over 50 students enter with the hope of winning a grand prize of £1,000. Other prizes included 2nd place £600, 3rd place £400. To choose a winner, commercial illustrator Mark Reihill joined us again on the judging panel alongside our very own Kristian Duffy, Andi McCarroll and Mike Fleming for what proved a tough competition to judge.

We caught up with Christine Blaney from the university after the event to hear the students and her experience-

BDes Hons Graphic Design and Illustration students at UU began work on the competition brief in October 2015 with an introduction from award winning marketing agency creatives from PBD. The agency is named after Carl Sagan’s book ‘Pale Blue Dot’ which challenges centuries-old beliefs about man’s importance in the universe. It’s this sense of disruption/alternative communication that we wanted to celebrate with the competition brief.  Students were challenged to create illustration work that makes us question something that we take for granted or accept without a second thought.

Students worked on the brief throughout the autumn semester of 2015 with feedback and input from a range of industry experts. The project culminated in April 2016 with an impressive exhibition launch of inventive and dynamic shortlisted illustrations. Substantial prizes (totalling £2,000) were shared by three overall competition winners. The project illustrations challenge us to think differently about subjects from dementia to Tourette Syndrome, connecting students and business and showcasing exciting new illustration talent in the heart of the city.

Students and staff at UU, Belfast School of Art would like to thank our partners at Pale Blue Dot and Arts and Business for their invaluable expertise, support and insight over the past months in making this project an unqualified and exciting success and we look forward to on going partnership working to develop the project further.

Christine Blaney, Senior Lecturer, BSA

It was a great experience for us as an agency to be inspired by the creativity and talent that is growing within the Northern Irish creative sector. Watching as the students all tackled the brief from different angles. Producing some polished and thought provoking work. It was a tough decision for our team to select just three winners from the short listed 15, but after much deliberation our judges selected:


Illustration Awards

Sharon Ross 1st


Illustration AwardsClare Brown 2nd

Illustration Awards

Laura Martinovic 3rd 

We are excited for Belfast to gain some excellent designers and illustrators and look forward to working alongside them. Thanks again to the students for all of their hard work over the past few months, Christine Blaney and Bruce Ingham at the University of Ulster and the team at Arts & Business for helping to create an incredible experience.


Jonny Agnew

Jonny is an Account Executive, brand planner, content creator and insight researcher.

Something to Say?

Your email address will not be published.