The World Illustration Awards 2021 Call for Entries

Open for Entries! Delivered by the AOI in partnership with USA-based Directory of Illustration, the World Illustration Awards build on a 45-year tradition of the AOI organising juried survey competitions.

This high-profile competition is judged by distinguished professionals from the global illustration industry.

Commissioners value the Awards for identifying current trends and finding undiscovered talent, and illustrators value the connection and sense of community participating can bring.

Illustrators, commissioners, agents and tutors are invited to submit work created, commissioned or published since January 2020, until the deadline into the ten categories of the Awards.

Entries need to be made via the online application form.

Over the years, many shortlisted and winning illustrators have received significant, career boosting exposure through the awards. See the Awards and Prizes for 2021.

The Illustrator's Ninja Guide

Most illustrators are freelance professionals. And freelance creative artists are mini-companies. In addition to your creative work, you have to handle business plans, negotiate projects, prepare quotes, contracts and invoices. You must have a firm understanding of the rights involved with your artistic creations, to protect and be able to exploit them. You also have to operate in a complex market and protect yourself from abusive practices. Freelance illustrators need ninja training and skills. Which is where the Ninja Guide comes in.

The Ninja Guide is being made available via the European Illustrators Forum (EIF) as a resource for all to reference. EIF is a network of national associations of illustrators in European countries, providing a platform for contact and meetings between all European groups.

This is a small advocacy guide for freelance illustrators: it considers the main hazards and problems facing the profession today and how to address them. The Guide was created by our friends at AGPI in Spain who face the same issues as we do across Europe, and they made this Guide as a response. It contains a number of texts which are solely relevant to Spanish law and systems (including areas on tax, social security, arbitration, registers of work and certain contract terms), however it is a great overall guide covering freelance situations many will recognise.

The Ninja Guide is also for art students, freelance creative artists, clients, friends of illustration, and, above all, those people who are starting out in the profession or wish to do so.


Download the Ninja Guide in English here:

English version print July 2020

The Ninja Guide is an adaptation of “A Guía Ninja do Ilustrador”, first published in 2016 by AGPI – Asociación Galega de Profesionais da Ilustración
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

EIF member responses to Covid

Coronavirus has had a serious impact on freelance creatives, and over 2020 illustrators and the EIF organisations that support them have risen to the challenges that the pandemic has presented. We asked the EIF member organisations to give a short description of what they had been doing over summer 2020 to help illustrators.

All organisations explored shifting what had been physical meetings and events online, and these were successful, even bringing increased audiences in some case. EIF members campaigned to their governments over support for illustrators, and some were able to offer support via funds. Resources were created to help illustrators with the situations that the pandemic brought, including for mental health. And there has been a general sense that it has been really positive to try out new ways of approaching what organisations can offer. Read on for more detail from several EIF members:

 Kuvittajat Finland

  • 10060 Euro fund for illustrators distributed and will be another fund in Autumn, but need to decide what that is used for.
  • Gallery exhibitions moved online and saw an increase in attendance and purchases.
  • Online events including podcasts and Lisk Feng masterclass, and other workshops.
  • The Spring meeting for members was not possible so moved to Autumn.
  • Survey – done in April and repeaedt in August to check what the outlook is.

IO Germany

  • Release new publication for new starters on how to work in illustration (free for new members or available to purchase).
  • Organised seminars and webinars online.
  • Frankfurt Book Fair - looked to establish an online meeting point for illustrators.

Grafill Norway

  • Moved to an online platform for events – webinars and streams.
  • Awards show presented online, which was a real success, not only for the showcase but also the social element with a DJ and afterparty, much larger audiences than previously.
  • Grafill Illustration group made a zine illustrating how they have experienced the impact of lockdown.
  • Mental health talk took place online.
  • Politically working with other artist organisations to make sure government support is beneficial to members.
  • Survey run, and will be run again to see if there is any change – appeared that there was no real change in summer results.
  • Updated website to communicate what was happening.


  • Engaged with government to work with creators institute to address the tax challenges for creators in Spain.
  • Moved illustration festival Irudika to an online platform for October.
  • Basque Gov paid illustrators to make a book.
  • Worked on campaigns supporting creators rights.

Svenska Tecknare Sweden

  • Moved annual meeting online
  • Competition has a new remit, exploring if this can be physical, or if it can be online.
  • Magazine moved to online, which has benefits, not least a fresh approach
  • We should do things differently more often to try things out.
  • Did a survey and will do a follow up
  • Crisis Fund established of 10,000 Euro, also open to donations. One round done before summer and another in Autumn.
  • Interpreted the official actions to reinform members about what is important.
  • Made a financial guide available to members which is available more widely
  • Remind people about the importance of contracts – and sense a feeling members want to get more organised as a result.


  • Continued to meet Membership helpline response deadlines
  • Established a Covid-19 resource page with up to date, reliable information. Resources included a two week plan to focus illustrators.
  • Launched the Spotlight on Series featuring an illustrator weekly
  • Launched the mentorship scheme and developed and launched member Exchange, an online connection tool for members.
  • Presented a well received mental health guide for creative freelancers
  • Established regular agent meetings in partnership with Society of Authors
  • Developed ongoing webinars, resources and articles which address current needs and trends.
  • Launched a Diversity and Equality scheme of work
  • Developed the Folios pages, and increased the promotion of selected folios
  • Surveyed members to understand the impact of Covid-19
  • Wrote to the Government championing the needs of illustrators


Illustration by Derek Brazell

World Illustration Awards Showcase

The UK's Association of Illustrators, in partnership with the Directory of Illustration, have launched their first ever online World Illustration Awards Showcase. Hosted on The AOI website, the Showcase offers a range of ways to look at the 200 shortlisted projects. Exploring trends, processes, media, and styles there is something for everyone, from the illustrator looking for inspiration, to the commissioner searching for talent.

“This curated view from our AOI Awards Team and invited industry specialists offers a rich and exciting way to explore the diversity and creativity found in the shortlist. We welcome the world to be inspired by illustration as never before!” says Ren Renwick, CEO of the Association of Illustrators

In December 2019, The AOI opened the call to illustrators to Be Ambitious, Be Seen, Be Celebrated. An incredible 4,300+ entries from all over the globe were submitted. The 200 shortlisted projects represent illustrators from over 30 countries across the world from India to Ukraine, to Chile, offering styles and ideas from a global perspective.

The Showcase features curated content created to explore the major trends and themes of illustration today. One highlight is the use of personal stories as inspiration, another is seeing how illustrators work to briefs from major global brands such as Netflix and Facebook. There are plenty of ways to explore the shortlist to find what you are looking for and enjoy some surprises along the way.

© illustration by Kati Närhi

Galleria Kuvitus Finland presents exhibitions online

Galleria Kuvitus is the only gallery in Finland to focus on the art of illustration in all its forms.  Maintained by the Finnish Illustration Association Kuvittajat. the exhibitions are professionally juried and curated by staff or guest curators to present a variety of artists, styles and illustration techniques.
The gallery is set in the premises of Kuvittajat in Helsinki.
During the COVID_19 crisis the exhibitions happen online at according to the following calendar:


Liisa Kallio
21.3. – 30.4.2020
The solo exhibition Tunto features charcoal drawings by the illustrator Liisa Kallio (b.1968).
The main theme of the exhibition is the sensation of touch.

Kati Närhi
8.5. – 18.6.2020
Kati Närhi's (b. 1973) solo exhibition is related to the new book, Ei mikään (Nothing), written and illustrated by Närhi herself.
The illustration style of the author's edition is inspired by Victorian prints.

Miila Westin
14.8. – 19.9.2020
Miila Westin's (b. 1987) solo exhibition presents Finnish mythological creatures and colorful modernized illustrations based on them.
The work is based on her dissertation from 2020 for the Master of Arts degree from Aalto University.

Apila Pepita
25.9. – 30.10.2020
Apila Pepita's  (b. 1991) colorful pastel toned works focus on the topics of gender diversity, feminism and sexuality.

Ville Salervo
6.11. – 12.12.2020
Ville Salervo´s (b. 1979) digital illlustration series Deus Ex Machina shows different "god machines" that have somehow influenced human history and the present state of the world.

Reka Kiraly
16.12. – 23.1.2021
Reka Kiraly's (b. 1977) solo exhibition will open up the illustrator’s work process for everyone.
It consists of ink drawings and sketches from notebooks, drawings on paper rolls and interactive paper puzzle and 3 actual books.

The illustration is by Kati Närhi

Joseph Binder Award 2020 deadline extended

The deadline for the Joseph Binder Award 2020 has been extended .
Due to the great demand you now have until 3 May 2020 to take part in Design Austria's international competition for Graphic Design and Illustration. Despite COVID19 the JBA20 Awards is still planned to take place in November.

The JBA20 are divided in 3 major areas: Graphic Design with 8 subcategories, Illustration with 4 subcategories and Design Fiction with 1 category. In each category the jury of experts will assign Joseph Binder Awards in Gold, Silver, and Bronze  to worthy projects.
In addition, the jury may may decide to assign three merit awards in each of the graphic design and illustration categories.

To support independent, conceptual, or academic projects and non-commercial activities in graphic design and illustration,
cash prizes worth a total of 10,000 euros will be awarded to five outstanding projects in the Design Fiction category.
Moreover, in this category the Henry Steiner Prize will be awarded to honour a particularly deserving project.

All of the entries selected by the jury will be published in a catalogue and an exhibition. The winners will be publicly announced in November 2020 during a festive presentation to be held in Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier.

Online registration & information:

Joseph Binder Award 2020 - apply by 17 April

DesignAustria is calling for entries for the fifteenth edition of the Joseph Binder Award.  This international competition has a focus on graphic design & illustration. Designers, illustrators, agencies and students from all over the world are invited to submit their works realized in 2018 and after.

Joseph Binder was one of the founders of designaustria. The Joseph Binder Award was launched in 1996 to honour his legacy. This international showcase for graphic design and illustration is organised every other year in the form of a competition. Joseph Binder was one of the most outstanding graphic designers and illustrators active in Austria between the two World Wars, who subsequently also revolutionized visual communication in the United States. Joseph Binder’s motto was: »In design, everything has a function. Design has a representational function. Design has a communicational function. Design has a motivational function.« Today, in a new millennium, Joseph Binder’s principles are still highly relevant.

All entries are assessed by an international jury of experts. Previous jury panels included such recognized authorities as Cordula Alessandri, Lo Breier, Gerd Dumbar, Fons Hickmann, Freda Sack, Stefan Sagmeister, Niklaus Troxler, and Lars Müller.

Deadline for entries: 17 April 2020.

Online registration & information:

Call for Entries World Illustration Awards 2020

Be ambitious, be seen, be celebrated

The World Illustration Awards are now open for entries until 18 February 2020.
Presented by the Association of Illustrators (AOI) in partnership with USA-based Directory of Illustration, the Awards build on the AOI’s 45-year tradition of competitions. For 2020 the World Illustration Awards will be presented in a refreshed format, offering illustrators the opportunity to showcase and celebrate their most ambitious work.

The Awards are open to professional and new talent illustrators living and working in any media and any country.

The World Illustration Awards 2020 will be judged across ten categories that represent the work being made in the industry today. New categories include Book Covers, Science and Technology, and Design, Product and Packaging.

Four Cross-Category Awards will be presented this year, including a new Innovation Award, recognising work that truly pushes the boundaries of the artform.

The Overall Winners will enjoy cash prizes totalling £3,000, sponsored by Winsor & Newton. Category Winners enjoy in-kind benefits, as well as the coveted WIA trophies.

200 shortlisted entrants will be presented in a digital and print publication sent to commissioners worldwide and available for sale, and be presented in a new look exhibition, as part of the WIA events programme in October 2020.

The AOI will host a programme of talks and events alongside a new look showcase of all 200 shortlisted projects at one of London’s most exciting new venues, Elephant West.

For more information
and guidance about the contest see here:
Apply using the online form on the AOI website:

Deadline: 18 February 2020

Irudika 2020 Illustrator in Residence contest - apply by 15 October 2019

IRUDIKA, the international illustration fair of the Basque countries in Spain has launched an international contest for an Illustrator in Residence.
The call is organised with the support of Fundación Vital Fundazioa, in collaboration with Fundación Bilbaoarte Fundazioa and the Cité Internationale de la Bande Dessinée et de l’Image of Angoulême.

The contest

The main goal of the Residency is to encourage creative production in the area of illustration. Therefore the successfull candidate will be asked to produce a personal illustration project during their stay, as well as create the poster and graphics to be used for the IRUDIKA 2020 flyers.
The Residency also aims to facilitate the start of collaboration networks, to foster the mobility of the artists, and strengthen ties between foreign and national cultural institutions.

The call is open to any illustrator, older than 18 years based anywhere in the world.

The Award

The winner of the contest will receive a Prize worth €2100 gross, which covers some daily and travel expenses to the various residencies planned at different venues and various stages:

  • Phase 1: VITORIA-GASTEIZ. ESPACIO ZAS. 6 February 2020.
  • Phase 2: BILBAO. 7 February – 4 March 2020. FUNDACIÓN BILBAOARTE FUNDAZIOA.
  • Phase 3: ANGOULÊME. 4 – 27 March 2020. MAISON DES AUTEURS DE ANGOULÊME (France).
  • Phase 4: BILBAO. 27 March – 5 April 2020 at FUNDACION BILBAOARTE FUNDAZIOA, with a possible visit to BOLOGNA CHILDREN’S BOOK FAIR (30 March – 2 April 2020).
  • Phase 5: VITORIA. 5 – 7 April 2020. FUNDACIÓN VITAL FUNDAZIOA.

More info

For contest criteria and how to submit your application see IRUDIKA

Deadline for submissions: Tuesday 15th of October at 23:59 hours.
No application shall be accepted after that date.


EIF Annual Meeting at Irudika the Basque illustration festival

This October the EIF will hold their annual meeting in Spain, on the occasion of IRUDIKA 2019, the international for professional illustrators. The event is organised by EUSKAL IRUDIGILEAK, the Basque Association of Professional Illustrators and takes place from 24 to 26 October 2019 in Vitoria-Gazteiz.
IRUDIKA offers attendees 3 days of training through conferences, workshops as well as portfolio sessions.
Speakers from three countries – South Korea, United Kingdom and Argentina  – will be guests of Irudika 2019 including the Associations of Illustrators UK and London Illustration Book Fair.

On Sunday 27th October EIF Board members will each present their association to the Basque and Spanish illustrators community. It's an occasion to exchange experiences and learn from best practices. Afterwards the EIF annual meeting will be focussed on developing the strategy to reach the EIF goal of empowering illustrators across Europe.

The countries that will be present at the meeting are: Austria (Illustria), Finland (Kuvittajat ), Norway (Grafill), Italy (AI), Romania (Clubul Ilustratorilor), Sweden (Svenska Tecnare), the UK (AOI).