With just under a month to go before this year’s anthology is published – featuring the 20 stories shortlisted for the 2022 Bristol Short Story Prize – we’re delighted to reveal the anthology cover.
It has been designed by Martyna Gradziel who graduated from the Illustration degree course at the University of the West of England in Bristol this summer.
We caught up with Martyna to find out more about her work.
Congratulations on creating such a striking cover. What did you think when your design was chosen for this year’s anthology?
Thank you very much! I was very happy to find out my design was chosen, especially after having seen some of the covers created by my talented classmates. I think it was also a very empowering moment for me as a recent graduate about to enter the job market.
The brief for the design is quite broad and non-specific, particularly as you don’t know the contents of the book. With that in mind, how did you approach creating your design?
I started off with a figurative idea in mind – medals and trophies illustrating the word “prize” as suggested by my tutors. I couldn’t quite make it work so I kept adding shapes and marks from my library of paper cut-outs, handmade textures, ink splashes and pencil drawings I amassed during my last year at university. I took an intuitive approach and let the composition emerge itself. I think the initial idea is still echoed in the colour palette.
Shapes and inventive colour combinations seem to be key elements of your work; what appeals to you about those particular components?
I find it fascinating how shapes and colours can convey moods, emotions and even tell whole stories. I was always attracted to Abstract Expressionism and works that don’t give all the answers at a glance but challenge the audience to find the meaning for themselves.
What makes a book cover stand out?
To my mind, colour is one of the most important factors. I absolutely adore the book cover for Sheila Heti’s Pure Colour. It’s so simple yet mesmerising. On the other hand, I love book covers by a Polish artist Marianna Sztyma, especially the one for Ivan Wernisch’s Pernambuco. It combines a multi-layered, detailed illustration with excellent graphic design; text and image complement each other.
What impact has the Illustration degree course had on your work?
I think the most important skill I gained during the Illustration course is thinking outside the box. The tutors always encouraged us to experiment which opened my head to new ideas and themes for my projects. In addition to this, having access to excellent printmaking facilities greatly helped me expand my visual language.
Which designers and illustrators have had the biggest influence on you?
Stephen Smith (aka Nesaden Control Centre), Atelier Bingo, Beatrice Alemagna, Catarina Sobral.