Illustration of a bear
Illustration by Petr Horacek

Mentoring Programme: Further Information

Our mentoring programme is now closed for applications. Thank you to everybody who submitted.

Find out more about how the programme works here and look at the FAQs at the bottom of this page.

Who can apply?

Anyone aged 18+ who is an early-career or an emerging picture book illustrator. This could mean that you have some published or commissioned work, or you may have none at all.

A relevant degree, qualification or equivalent work experience is desirable.

Who will be successful?

Our panel will be looking for evidence of character development, continuity and emotion in your work. The successful applicants will demonstrate commitment with potential and the desire to learn and develop.

How do I apply?

You can apply for the Picture Hooks mentoring programme via our online entry form below. The deadline for applications is midnight UK time on Monday 31st October 2022.

Applications guidelines

Entry Fee

There is a £15.00 entry fee to cover the cost of administration. Please note that your entry will not be considered if we have not received this fee. When you submit the entry form you will be redirected to PayPal where your secure payment can be made.

Entry Requirements

There are four aspects of the submission and they must all be included:

1. A narrative piece over three pages (colour or black and white) that clearly demonstrates continuity, character development and an emotional connection with children. This piece could be work in progress, but the direction must be evident and well thought through.

2. A finished double-page spread (in colour). This is in addition to the sequence above and can either show the same characters or something quite different.

3. You should include a link to your website or online presence.

4. And a personal statement (500 words) explaining why you wish to be considered for the programme and what you are hoping to gain from the mentoring process.

Preparing your entry

• Please note: if you want to include text in your entry, which is not a requirement but optional, it can be from any source but should not exceed 50 words. Remember, we are not looking for authors, we are looking for illustrators.

• All entries should be submitted via our online entry form.

• All entries should be in .pdf or .jpg format. 

• You should submit four files in total: the three-page narrative sequence (this should be divided into three separate files); the double-page spread should be saved as one file.

• Each of your submitted files should not be more than 2 megabytes.

• Your artwork does not have to be high-resolution or print quality at this stage (i.e. make sure it is no less than 72 dpi, but there is no need to go as high as 300 dpi).

• Make sure that your artwork displays well on screen. Save your images in RGB format (the screen mode for images).

• When naming your files please use this system: SurnameInitial1.jpg, with consecutive numbering for each piece i.e. Catherine Rayner’s three-page sequence would be: RaynerC1.jpg, RaynerC2.jpg and RaynerC3.jpg; and her double page spread would be RaynerC4.jpg.

• Your illustrations must be entirely your own work. Any copyright issues existing, or arising, are the applicant’s responsibility.

What happens next?

Our panel of experts will compile a shortlist of candidates and invite them to an interview (either online or in person if possible) to take place in November 2022.

For the interview, each illustrator will be asked to bring their portfolio, and also to show us their sketchbooks as we love to see work in progress. You should also be prepared to talk about your favourite picture book and be ready to explain to the interview panel why you chose it.

The decision will be communicated shortly after the interview stage, and up to five selected illustrators will then be matched with an appropriate professional. The scheme will take place from January to September 2023.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to provide individual feedback to or enter into any correspondence with unsuccessful applicants. To access further support from Picture Hooks, keep an eye out for the workshops, talks and events that we hold throughout the year.

Showcasing your work

Towards the end of the process, you will be given the opportunity to show the work made during the mentoring programme and your portfolio at a special event for UK publishers. It will also be shown at the Picture Hooks Festival of Illustration and showcased at the International Bologna Book Fair by the Picture Hooks team. 


Do I have to pay to enter? 
There is a fee of £15 which goes towards the costs of administration.

When is the deadline?
The deadline for applications is midnight UK time on Monday 31 October 2022.

How does the mentoring scheme work?
Up to five emerging children’s book illustrators (our ‘mentees’) will be matched with established illustrators (our ‘mentors’). You’ll find details here about how the scheme works. 

What is the difference between the mentoring programme and the buddy scheme?
Our Mentoring Programme is designed to support emerging children’s illustrators with professional and/or degree experience as they embark on their careers. The Buddy Scheme is an introduction to illustration for creative artists who may not have considered the craft before. You can read more about the difference between the schemes here.

Are there any additional costs for the mentoring programme?
No, there is no cost to take part in the programme, if you are selected as one our of our mentees.

When will successful candidates be informed? 
All applicants will be informed in November 2022, to let you know if you have been shortlisted for interview, or if we are unable to take your application forwards this time. 

Can you give me feedback on my entry? 
We’re sorry but we’re unable to provide individual feedback or enter into any correspondence with unsuccessful candidates, but please keep an eye out for workshops and other events that are coming up.

Could you explain what you mean by a ‘narrative piece’?
It might help to think of it as three pages of a picture book (they can be either three single pages or three double-page spreads). So you might submit p3, p4 and p5 of a story OR pp6–7, pp8–9 and pp10–11 of a story. We want to see progression in the storyline and the characters. For example: it’s Sally’s birthday, Sally is cross, Sally runs away! We’re looking forward to seeing all your ideas.

What size should the illustrations be? 
We don’t mind – just whatever size you like. But remember that the digital file size should be in RGB format and should not exceed 2MB.

Does it matter what medium I use? 
You can use any medium that can be saved into a .jpg or .pdf format. Have a look at the work of some of the successful illustrators from previous years to see the variety of techniques that they use.

What format should the files be in? 
The digital files should be less than 2MB, between 72dpi and 300dpi, in RGB format and saved as a .jpg or .pdf. If you are successful, Picture Hooks will contact you to discuss the specific file formats we need for your work to be displayed in print.

How do I compress my files?
If using Photoshop you can use ‘Save for web and devices’ to compress your artwork as a .jpg file. Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat also allow for compression and optimising of artwork when creating .pdf files.

Can I submit animations?
No, unfortunately not, as this mentoring programme is for emerging picture book illustrators.

I live overseas. Can I apply?
Yes, we would be delighted to hear from you. We are not able to refund travel costs for taking part in the programme, but you are welcome to meet with your mentor online.

Is there a minimum age for applicants to the programme?
Yes, the programme is only open to those aged 18 or over.

I have been working as an animator for six years. Does that count as ‘a relevant degree or equivalent work experience?
Yes, training or experience in a field such as animation definitely counts, although animations cannot be submitted as part of your application.

I’ve been having problems submitting my application/payment, what should I do?
Please email

I still have questions, who can I contact?
Send us an email on and we’ll get back to you.