Ravensbourne graduate illustrates award-winning transgender guidebook

Author Juno Dawson and illustrator Soofiya hold trophies at ceremony (c)Nikki Powell

Article by: David Millett

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A frank and funny guide on all things transgender and non-binary for teens – illustrated by the artist Soofiya, who graduated from our BA (Hons) Graphic Design course in 2013 – has won a top industry award.

“What’s the T?”, written by Juno Dawson and illustrated by Soofiya, won the Educational Writer’s Award 2022 at a recent ceremony hosted by the ALCS (Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society).

The award, decided by an expert judging panel, is the only one in the UK dedicated to creative educational writing.

"What's the T?" is a guide to the modern transgender and non-binary experience, praised as “incredibly special” by the panel. “We can see it becoming an influential book indeed, with the power to open minds and hearts,” they added.

Soofiya is a visual artist and design educator, whose work often explores gender, race, politics, and bodies with a therapeutically informed approach.

"Winning this award was really special and I am incredibly grateful for the recognition," Soofiya said. "It’s an affirmation of all the work that went into it, from Juno’s writing to my illustrations."

The Ravensbourne news team spoke to Soofiya to learn more about the process of making the book - as well as to hear some top tips for aspiring illustrators!


What was the process of collaborating on this book like?

“Collaborating on this book was an enriching experience. I worked closely with the editorial team at Hachette Wren & Rook, we discussed the themes and messages that the illustrations needed to convey.

“I worked on creating sketches and drafts that helped shape the visual language of the book. Throughout the process, we were all committed to creating an inclusive and empowering narrative that would resonate with our readers.

"It was amazing to see the illustrations come to life in the printed book, and to finally hold it in my hands. and knowing the illustrations contribute to the impact of the book.”


How did you get into book cover design and illustration?

“I have always loved storytelling and visual arts and been an illustrator. After studying graphic design at Ravensbourne, I began working on freelance projects and clients and now work as my own studio.

“My work straddles design and illustration and I’ve gradually built up a portfolio of varied illustration and design work. Over time, I’ve developed a style and approach that captured me and felt natural to the way I draw and design.”


Do you have any advice for students currently studying or considering a course in graphic design?

“My advice to students interested in graphic design is to stay curious, persistent, and open to learning. Design is a constantly evolving field, and there is always something new to discover and explore.

“Take advantage of the resources and feedback available to you, whether that be through classes, workshops, or online communities. I grew the most through feedback and trying new stuff. Cultivate a strong work ethic and a willingness to experiment and take risks.

“And most importantly, figure out your own voice and vision and then stay true to it, this bit will take time and lots of trial and error but will be the thing that brings life and meaning to your work and the world.”


Learn more about our BA (Hons) Graphic Design course

You can see more of Soofiya's work here: soofiya.com ¦ Instagram: @soofiya ¦ twitter @soofiyaC

Photo credit Nikki Powell