Maltese artist Julian Mallia, aka Julinu, was the winner in this year's Advertising (New Talent) category at the prestigious AOI World Illustrtion Awards. This was the second time running that Mallia's work was short-listed to take part in the awards.

This year’s awards saw entries from 66 countries across the globe taking part. The touring exhibition combines over 50 works from the breadth of illustration, from GIFs to sculpture, from advertising campaigns to editorial and children’s books. The exhibition will run until August 29 at Somerset House, in London, before touring the UK. The competition shortlist is described as showcasing “exceptional work by illustrators currently making an outstanding contribution to visual culture”.

Julinu is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer specialising in realistically executed visual ideas. His work is often characterised by atmospheric, surreal themes and occasionally laced with dry humour. After a few years in the advertising industry working for clients ranging from banks to musicians, he moved to Brighton (UK) to specialise in illustration.

The final illustration consists of three oil paintings that were scanned and digitally merged in a process that is reminiscent of photographic double exposure

The winning work, Maia’s Morning Malaise (oil paint and digital) was created for an illustrated poster for the stop-motion, oil-on-paper, animated, short film Loophole (work in progress ). This was the main project that Julinu worked on during his MA Sequential Design/ Illustration course at the University of Brighton. The minimalist image needed to succinctly encapsulate the animation’s dreamy atmosphere and absurd themes without giving away any surprises.

“After establishing the idea, I proceeded to draw some sketches which were then followed by shooting photos of a friend of mine for reference purposes. Then I started the execution of the illustration in oil paint – my go-to medium for a realistic, yet imperfect, finishing. The final illustration consists of three oil paintings that were scanned and digitally merged in a process that is reminiscent of photographic double exposure.

“In fact, although there is one final image, the sky, the falling lady and the portrait are actually three separate illustrations. The digital merging enabled me to retouch the illustrations with a graphics tablet and to move things around, until I was satisfied with the composition,” the artist said.

It has been a busy year for Julinu. Last May he was shortlisted to undergo the test to join the international painting crew working on the film Loving Vincent at BreakThru Studios in Gdansk, Poland. This animated, full feature film about the life of Van Gogh is comprised solely of oil paintings in the artist’s style.

“After going through the arduous three-day test I realised I wasn’t fast and precise enough to cope with the highly demanding work-load. However, the experience of visiting the studios and meeting so many highly-skilled and friendly artists was incredibly enriching and inspiring,” the artist explained.

In the meantime, Julinu continues with his work as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. One of his latest commissions includes the recently unveiled illustrations and branding for the Malta Book Festival 2016. He has also kept up his passion for drumming and takes an active part with the band Different Strings.

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