Evangeline Gallagher wins inaugural Folio Ebook Illustration Award
Image © Evangeline Gallagher, 2022. All images for The Folio Society Book Illustration Award 2022
The brief for the inaugural Folio Book Illustration Award, launched by publisher the Folio Society to mark its 75th anniversary, was to create an illustrated response to Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, The Masque of the Red Death.
First published in 1842, the story follows Prince Prospero who decamps to his castle to evade a fatal plague known as the Red Death, where he barricades himself and his guests inside.
Evangeline Gallagher has been named the winner out of nearly 700 entrants from around the world. Skulls and red palettes abound in the longlist, but it was the Baltimore-based illustrator’s carnivalesque interpretation that clinched the top spot. The remaining entries on the shortlist are Harry Campbell, Thanh-Vu Nguyen, Sarah Coomer, Zhiyu You, and Yiran Jia.
Gallagher, who works digitally using Procreate on an iPad, wanted to pack in as many nods to the story as possible, which takes place in medieval times. “I wanted to both pick an impactful moment from the Masque of the Red Death, and, since I only had one image to work with, I wanted to pick a scene that encapsulated a lot of major elements from the story,” they explain.
“I chose the moment when the Red Death figure is moving slowly from room to room, the revellers shrinking away from him. The titular character had to be front and centre, and I had a really good time interpreting their design as something similar to the costuming of the partygoers but more unsettling,” Gallagher continues. Whereas the guests wear elaborate dress and theatrical masks, the skeletal figure stands out for its withering red cloak, pointed hat and blood-spattered, piercing expression.
“The setting of the Masque of the Red Death is really fantastical and bizarre, so I used the windows and staircases in the background to reference the character’s movement through the maze of coloured chambers in the palace,” they tell CR.
The attention to detail is admirable, from the illustration’s perforated, stamp-like edging to the secondary palette of blue, green and purple, which is picked up in the billowing curtains, windows, and parts of the guests’ costumes, and does well to capture the decadence of a medieval stately occasion.