illustration of animals and children in a park by Maisie Shearring
Illustration by Maisie Shearring, class of 2015

Our Programme

Picture Hooks provides opportunity and development for emerging picture book illustrators, to help them access the world of children’s publishing.

Although based in Edinburgh, our support is available for all emerging illustrators.

The programme is comprised of several branches:

Mentoring Scheme

The mentoring scheme lies at the core of Picture Hooks: emerging illustrators work closely with established professional illustrators. They are carefully paired and during the course of a year, each illustrator studies the creative process of making a picture book, steps out of their comfort zone and finds new techniques and methods of working, with one-to-one guidance by their mentor.

Read how to apply for the mentoring scheme here.

View our five Picture Hooks illustrators from the 2019/20 programme.


We are committed to exhibiting and promoting  the work of our illustrators, either on line or in physical spaces. In previous years, we have held exhibitions with the Scottish National Gallery and with art venues across the UK. Next year, we won’t be exhibiting in this way but we are planning to organise a stunning Festival of Illustration.


Regular conferences take place across the UK to demystify the world of publishing. The most recent Picture Hooks conference took place at V&A, Dundee.  It was a great success, featuring key note talks by Tiffany Leeson from Egmont and Roger Thorpe from Thames & Hudson, plus award winning illustrator Lesley Barnes. A mixture of panels and break out sessions contributed to a memorable day.


Masterclasses offer additional support and development opportunities. They are advertised on our website and across our social media platforms.


From time to time, we run competitions. We started during lockdown with our popular “From Seed to Table” competitions and received some outstanding entries. The winners of the four competitions received £1,000 each. Follow us on social media – we’ll be running more competitions soon.


The work of the illustrator is key to inspiring our first love of books.  We all know and love many picture book characters from their image alone.  Picture Hooks are proud to announce a new, bi-annual award, The Invisible Prize, which will acknowledges the quiet reach and huge influence of the illustrator. This year, The Invisible Prize is awarded to Pam Smy: a skilled and talented illustrator with a remarkable body of work.  She is fully committed to the value and importance of picture books; someone who has supported and inspired other illustrators, but done so ‘invisibly’ – modest, unassuming, steadily supporting others for years without looking for acclaim.  

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