World Illustration Awards 2019

Way before I decided to be an illustrator, going to see the World Illustration Awards exhibition at Somerset House had been my annual event. Since I decided to be an illustrator, being selected for the WIA has become one of my career goals. And this year the dream came true.


WIA is an annual illustration competition hosted by the AOI in partnership with USA-based Directory of Illustration. There are eight categories (Advertising, Books, Children’s Books, Design, Editorial, Experimental, Research and Site Specific) and you can enter as either professional or new talent (students, recent graduates or illustrators working professionally less than 2 years). You can be based anywhere in the world.

Seeing all these amazing winners and shortlisters at the exhibition over the years, I always thought I wasn’t good enough and I never submitted to the competition…until this year. I still couldn’t make up my mind even in mid January, a few weeks before the submission deadline for this year. But one of my friends gave me a nice nudge and I finally decided to give it a go. I had nothing to lose (except the entry fee) after all.


I submitted my Frog and Toad illustrations as new talent for the Children’s Books category. The illustrations were a unpublished, self-initiated project I did for my portfolio. I knew most of the winning and shortlisted works were usually from published books and / or school projects from famous art schools, so my expectation for being selected was low. So I gave a short cry (I was at work) when I found out I had been shortlisted.

I had never been shortlisted for anything before so it hasn’t quite sunk in even now. I didn’t win but it will be my new goal. I was invited to the award ceremony & private view. I had never been to any award ceremony so that was fun. And it was just surreal to be exhibited alongside those well-deserved winners and amazing shortlisters. Here are some photos from the PV.

© The Association of Illustrators, 2019. Photography by Cristina Schek

My mum flew over from Japan to see the exhibition too. My mum kept taking pictures of my illustration on the wall. For Japanese people changing career in your 30s AND being an artist is still something not so common and to be discouraged. So it was nice to show my mum that I was doing fine 🙂

Are you an illustrator? Are you thinking of entering for next year’s WIA but you’re not sure? I say give yourself a go. Why not?

The exhibition is open to public until 28th of July. If you like illustrations and haven’t visited yet, I highly recommended. There are many WIP materials to give you more insights and actual books and products to show the selected illustrations ‘in action’. There’s still time to see it and it’s free entry.

World Illustration Awards
Somerset House
Strand, London, WC2R 1LA United Kingdom
11th – 28th July 2019

© The Association of Illustrators, 2019. Photography by Cristina Schek


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