Illustration Competitions: Seven Best Awards to Enter in 2021

Have you ever seen an illustrator who describes themselves as “award-winning”? There are so many good opportunities for illustrators to get noticed and stand out through illustration competitions and awards.

Taking part in illustration competitions can open many doors, even if you don’t win. You will be able to create new work and get your art seen by the decision-makers of the industry.

And if you win or get shortlisted you will gain massive exposure to potential clients. I know many cases when even the shortlisted illustrators end up with a publishing deal.

Also, being an “award-winning” illustrator will help you charge more for your work in the long run.

There are many illustration competitions out there but not all of them cut the grade in terms of quality and exposure opportunities.

Here is my list of top 7 best illustration competitions to enter in 2020–2021.

Best Illustration Competitions

  1. Bologna Children’s Book Fair Illustrators Exhibition

Bologna Children’s Book Fair is the main event in the children’s publishing industry. Each year the fair runs a competition for illustrators. The winners get exhibited in the special section of the fair.

Besides, the artists selected are offered other chances:

  • To win the International Award for Illustration — BCBF-SM Foundation (for under 35s only); US $15,000
  • To win the ARS IN FABULA scholarship (for under 30s only);
  • To be chosen to develop the visual identity of the next BCBF edition

2. V&A illustration awards

The Awards celebrate excellence in three categories of contemporary practice: book cover design, book illustration and illustrated journalism. There is also a special award for students.

The winners are each awarded a £3,000 prize and trophy. The Student Runner-Up receives £2,000 and trophy.

3. Silent Book Contest

This competition is asking to create a picture book with no text in it. The author of the book project selected as the winner by the International Jury will receive a money prize of Euro 4.000 as an advance for copyright with publishing agreement.

4. Golden Pinwheel

China is a thriving new market for picture book illustrators. To compete in this competition, illustrators must be between 16 and 39 years of age.

5. World Illustration Award by the AOI

The AOI (Association of illustrators) is a UK-based organisation supporting illustrators. They run a yearly competition where you need to pay an entry fee. In return, the winners get a lot of promotion through exhibitions and published catalogues.

6. FIDA Digital Fashion Illustration Award

If fashion illustration is what you love then take part with this award with the likes of Dior and Hermes in the jury. This Award is part of the Digital Innovation Fashion Awards with Conde Nast and Wired Magazine.

7. Cheltenham illustration Awards

The selected work will be showcased at the exhibition and published in the Annual which will be distributed to institutions and industry publishers.

The exhibition then travels to other venues for the year. Past exhibition spaces have been the likes of Pitt Rivers — Oxford, The Wilson Museum and Art Gallery, The museum in the Park Stroud and the London Book Fair.

Illustration Awards for Students

If you are lucky enough to be a student, you can take part in these student illustration awards:

  1. Penguin Student Design Award

Every year they run a cover design competition across three categories: Adult Fiction, Adult Non-fiction and Children's

If you are not a student but fancy a portfolio project you can set yourself a brief for portfolio development. However, you won’t be able to submit your entry unless you are studying on a Further Education or Higher Education course (part-time or full time) in any subject and at any level.

2. Macmillan Prize for Illustration

Macmillan Prize lets people submit their own dummy book on a certain story. Again, it is a great opportunity for a student artist, as their book can end up getting published. Sadly, you can only use it as portfolio practice if you are not a part-time or full-time student.

Let me know if you entered any illustration awards in comments!

Illustrator, originally from Russia, living in the UK. Represented by the Bright Agency https://treesforanya.com/

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