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Illustration > 15.1 Book & Editorial Illustration

Escaping wars and waves/Dem Krieg entronnen

by Olivier Kugler Ltd
Jury Prize

In December 2013 I was sent on a commission by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to Domiz Refugee Camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. The NGO asked me to create drawings with texts documenting the circumstances of Syrian refugees living in the camp in order to help raise awareness about their situation. I spent two weeks in Domiz (accompanied by a Kurdish-Syrian translator) conducting many interviews and taking countless reference photos of the people I encountered. Back in my studio in London I used this material to create a small series of illustrations (pencil drawings coloured digitally) portraying some of the people I met in the environment I found them in.

These drawings, including hand written texts featuring quotes from the interviews, were published under the title ‘Waiting State’ in Harper’s Magazine (USA) as well as in Le Monde Diplomatique (Germany) and Internazionale (Italy). Work-in-progress from this series was also exhibited at the Fumetto International Comix Festival 2014 in Lucerne, Switzerland.

‘Waiting State’ became the overall winner of the British Association of Illustrators’ (AOI) World Illustration Awards 2015.

In August 2015 MSF sent me to Kos Island, Greece, to create a second portfolio. This time documenting the situation of Syrian refugees who arrived on the island’s beaches in overcrowded dinghies launched from the nearby Turkish coast. The resulting work was originally published in Harper’s under the title ‘Escaping Wars and Waves’. Subsequent publications followed in Internazionale (Italy) and in Annabelle (Switzerland). Again the work was also exhibited at the Fumetto Comix Festival in Lucerne.

In April 2016 I received a grant from the Arts Council England that helped me to create new illustrations telling the stories of other Syrians I met in Domiz and Kos as well as on a visit to the Calais migrant camp, also known as ‘The Jungle’. The support also enabled me to meet and draw Syrians who found refuge in London and Birmingham here in the UK and also in Simmozheim, the village in the Black Forrest (Germany) where I grew up.

Last October an 80-page book (3,000 circulation), collecting my drawings and texts got published under the title ‘Dem Krieg Entronnen’ by the Swiss publisher Edition Moderne in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In July 2018 an English edition of the book, ‘Escaping War and Waves’, will be published in the UK by Myriad Editions and in the USA by Penn State University Press.

  • Creative Directors Olivier Kugler
  • Art Directors Stacey Clarkson (Harpers Magazine), Joe Zimmermann (Edition Moderne) and Corinne Pearlman (Myriad Editions)
  • Designers Olivier Kugler
  • Illustrators Olivier Kugler
  • Photographers Olivier Kugler
  • Editors Olivier Kugler
  • Copywriters Olivier Kugler
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