2023 IGFA World Record Cover artist Nick Hannan is the first Australian artist to be selected for this honour. “The Surge” is Nick’s dramatic and energetic work created specifically for this, the 80th edition of the annual.

Being selected

“As a kid, I was always a keen fisherman. A family friend brought me my first subscription to the IGFA. The cover art instantly struck me, and I started drawing fish immediately. I looked forward to seeing the cover as much as the annual itself. I still have a stack of them in the family home where I grew up. Being part of that history makes me very proud.” 

Adrian Gray is not only the IGFA Creative and Brand Manager but also a fine marine illustrator himself so I was pleased to engage with him. He gave me a very open brief: marlin. Although I sent through a folio of my existing marlin images, I knew I wanted to make a new work for this opportunity. Dramatic – messy weather, a stormy sky and a rough sea image, one that reflected the best of being on the water.

‘’The Surge’ – Nick Hannan, 2023‘’The Surge’ – Nick Hannan, 2023

Making ‘The Surge’

The wrap-around cover allowed for a landscape image. The front and back both needed a ‘hero’ in the picture. The head of the marlin was for the front, and the rising tail and boat for the back.

It took me a while to select the right boat after going through old reference images and drawings. Illustrations of Rod Findlay’s old boat Murrifin which runs out of Broken Bay in Sydney was the boat I selected. It’s quite a legendary boat with a long list of tournament wins, so it is appropriate. But, ultimately, only a hint of the bridge is seen above the breaking swells.

The game fish are all fantastic to illustrate. They have dramatic lines, and fishing amongst them is always an exhilarating experience. You never know when the next ‘Attenborough’ moment will happen.

My training, when I was young as an artist, refined my skills in line, colour, movement and how to compose. I put down my oil and watercolour brushes for a while about 15 years ago and taught myself digital illustration at a time when I was using the touchpad on a laptop. As a professional artist, I could see that I needed to keep refining my skills for longevity. It was the introduction of the drawing tablet that meant I could hold a pen in my hand.

Predominately using the pen tools in both photoshop and illustrator really was a game changer for my digital work. It better reflects the physical experience of the traditional drawing style I have always had. Over time however I came to love the digital medium. I used this technique for the cover of the 2023 IGFA World Record Game Fish Annual.

‘The Surge’ – Fine art print available

‘The Surge’ by Nick Hannan is available internationally as an archival-quality print from the Marine Graphics Ink website. Nick has worked for decades as a marine artist and has recently put together a series of prints from the extensive range of images produced through his work at Marine Graphics Ink as well as personal watercolours.