Fiction Illustrations In Special 197


We try to include a varied selection of artwork in every Special, from commissioned illustrations, to artwork from our Archives, and images from picture libraries.

Here’s a quick look at some of the artwork in Special 197 (on sale September 9), and why it was chosen.


We try to include a mix of contemporary and historical stories in our Specials.

The team specially commissioned the illustration for “Above The Clouds” (above), a wartime story by debut author Rova Jones, from “Friend” artist Kirk Houston.

Our opening story, “Arianna’s New Story”, by Katie Ashmore, is another of the stories for which we’ve commissioned a brand new illustration (below).


Illustration by Ruth Blair.

Once we purchase a story, we make up an Illustration Brief, which determines how the story will be illustrated.

The Fiction team member making up the brief reads the story carefully and chooses either a moment from the story to illustrate, or artwork which conveys the general tone of the story.

This is then passed to Manon, our Commissioning Illustrations Editor; she decides which artist would be best suited for each commission.

The opener

Artwork for the opener is an introduction to the magazine, so we’re looking for a bright, strong, and engaging image, which may reflect the season or time of year in which the story’s set.

Image libraries

For stories of fewer than 2000 words, we often choose artwork from an image library.

This image (below) for Elizabeth Meyer’s “Dogs On Duty” is from Shutterstock. It’s so cute!



Sometimes Illustrations Editor Manon adds a little to images from picture libraries, perhaps changing the colour palette to make it more autumnal, for example.

You can see this in the artwork for “Walking With Giants”, by Barbara Dynes.



For “Pros And Cons”, by Della Galton, we chose an image from our own image library — illustrations which have been sent in “on spec”, to see if they may be suitable, or which have been used once previously.

This one suited the story perfectly; it’s by Mandy Murray.


Illustration by Mandy Murray.

We have another two vector images in this Special, for “Simple Pleasures” and “Be My Baby”, both by Eirin Thompson.


An artist has designed a vector image on a computer, rather than hand-drawing it.


“Friend” artist Mandy Dixon has illustrated three of our stories in this Special.

Keeping things interesting

In “A Little Help From My Friends” by Eirin Thompson (below), Mandy’s artwork features two people.

We try to include illustrations with a mix of single people, couples, and groups, to make it interesting for our readers.

Illustrations by Mandy Dixon.

Jim Dewar has illustrated our latest Tanino and Melina story, “Work It Out”, by Stefania Hartley.

As Tanino and Melina are recurring characters, Jim uses the same backdrop, then adds relevant additions to each one.

Illustration by Jim Dewar.

Our Specials carry stories of slightly different lengths to our weekly issues.

In this Special, our 3,500 word story is “Marigold’s Legend”, by Laura Tapper.

Mandy Dixon has illustrated this story for us (below). Isn’t this artwork lovely?

Illustration by Mandy Dixon.

Finally, our Long Read illustrations are always commissioned specially, with one main image and three “vignettes”, or smaller illustrations.

Special 197 has an intriguing Long Read by Alison Carter: “City Of Secrets”, set in the Netherlands, and illustrated by Gerard Fay (below).

Illustration by Gerard Fay

Pick up your copy of Special 197 in shops from September 9.

For a closer look at the Features you’ll find inside, click here.

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!