Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators


Bookings opening soon!



The SCBWI Conference is a superb opportunity to focus your creative craft and hone up on the Industry  with leading illustrators, agents, art directors, publishers and editors covering the breadth of children’s illustration. Come and discover fresh perspectives for your illustration practice, connect with the best in the business, and share your experiences with fellow artists and writers. Leave inspired, recharged (and a little bit wiser!) about the best career on the planet.

Keynote Speaker

Benji Davies

The wonderful Benji Davies is an illustrator, author and animation director.

His first self-penned picture book The Storm Whale won the innaugral Oscar’s Book Prize and was Dutch Picture Book Of The Year 2017. His second, Grandad’s Island, won the children’s book category of the AOI World Illustration Awards, was crowned Children’s Book of the Year at the Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Awards and has since been adapted for the stage.

Benji studied animation at university, where he learnt how to tell stories with pictures, from short films and music videos, to title sequences and picture books.

His books have been co-editioned in many languages and countries around the world.

He lives in east London with his wife and daughter.


Cathy Olmedillas (Founder of Anorak and DOT Magazines and World Illustrations judge) and Jake Hope (Chair of the Carnegie Kate Greenaway Awards judging panel) will be discussing what makes an award-winning children’s book illustration. This is a unique opportunity to really understand the awards process and work towards becoming an award-winning illustrator in the future.

The Industry Q&A panel is comprised of Ben Norland (Executive Art Director at Walker), Caroline Thomson (Agent at Arena), and Tiffany Leeson (Egmont UK’s Creative Director) – some of the UK’s most influential and authoritative voices in children’s illustration today.

Derek Brazell (AOI) will speak to the business aspects of the illustration world. Get to grips with fees, negotiating contracts, and self-promotion, in this informative session!


Our fabulous keynote Benji Davies returns on Sunday in a hands-on workshop to really help you get under the hood of picture book craft. You’ll see Benji’s beautiful illustrations up close and personal and get a brilliant chance to work alongside him, understand his personal process and methods and apply them to your own work. Come prepared with ideas, questions and, of course, your favourite pens and pencils.

Paul Coomey (Art Director, Stripes), will lead the morning Illustrator Craft Session, Mocked-up Masterpieces, which will take a closer look at what a dummy can and could be, covering everything you need to know to present your work professionally. As Art Director at Stripes Publishing, Paul has seen dummies of every kind, for every age range, at every level of completion. Whether you’re creating your own dummies and need guidance, or wondering how to get started, this hands-on session will be a masterclass in dummy design.

Chris Fraser, acclaimed designer, leads the afternoon Illustration Craft Session More than Words: Illustrated Typography. She will guide you through developing your personal brand of hand-crafted illustrated lettering and show how it in turn can show off your unique illustrative voice. Bring your best pencil case, ideas and imagination!

SCBWI Illustrator 1-1 Portfolio Reviews

1-1 portfolio reviews

Perhaps the most important 25 minutes of your conference!  You, your portfolio, one-to-one with a leading industry professional for 25 minutes of direct feedback and empowering constructive criticism. Get your work right under the noses of Caroline Thomson (Arena), Tiffany Leeson (Egmont), Paul Coomey (Stripes Publishing), and internationally-acclaimed illustrator and portfolio wizard John Shelley.

Please note – Portfolio 1-1s must be booked in advance and cost an additional £30 (or £35 for non-members) on top of your Conference fee.

SCBWI 1-1 Portfolio Reviews

Other Events and Activities

To be confirmed … stay tuned for the latest developments!

scbwi for illustrators

Competitions running throughout the Conference

Best Portfolio

Exhibit your portfolio in our illustration exhibition space during the conference weekend and have your best work seen by all of the amazing industry professionals on the hunt for talent. What’s more, exhibited portfolios are automatically entered into our annual Best Portfolio competition, which will be judged by our team of industry professionals including Jake Hope, chair of the CKG Awards judging panel.

Once again, we’re delighted to team up with the Association of Illustrators (AOI) to award the winning artist the prize of a year’s AOI Folio membership worth £100. Your Folio of 20 searchable images will be searchable, optimised and promoted to commissioners in the UK. You manage your folio site, meaning you can upload and change your work as often as required so you can keep your very best work on display all year round.


The ‘Beginning, Middle, End’ SCBWI Illustration Competition – open to all!* (details can be downloaded as a .pdf here)

Beginnings, middles and endings are crucial to all types of stories, in print and moving image. Our interest is specifically for stories for the children’s market.

Elina Ellis artwork

Winning illustrations by Elina Ellis, SCBWI Conference 2016

The competition will be judged by a panel of three industry professionals at the annual SCBWI Conference. To enter, you will need to submit three scenes showing the beginning, middle and end of a story of your choice, at any age level:

  • an opening or introductory scene with your character(s)
  • a scene with your character(s) in the thick of the story or at its climax
  • and a resolution or a final scene with your character(s)

* The competition is open:

  • to illustration students, pre-published as well as published illustrators & author-illustrators
  • in all formats of children’s book (e.g. board or picture book, chapter book or graphic novel), and aimed at any age of child from toddler to teen.

* The story you choose to illustrate: 

  • may be from the public domain (i.e. a folk tale) or from a story you are working on,
  • must show the main character in all three submissions for consistency,
  • and, the work you submit must be unpublished.

Paul Morton artwork

Winning illustrations by Paul Morton, SCBWI Conference 2016

To submit:

Print out your illustrations to fit on A3 sheets, in portrait or landscape format (no originals please!)

No more than three illustrations consisting of:

  • 2 developed roughs plus and at least one finished piece of artwork, colour or black and white.

On the back of each illustration write:

  • name, email, mobile number and address
  • title of the story and illustration number (1,2 or 3)

On A5 paper to go with showing your work at the conference:

  • title and intended format of the book (e.g. board book, picture or chapter book or graphic novel) and a 50 word summary of the story.

Mrinali Alvarez Astacio artworkWinning illustrations by Mrinali Alvarez Astacio, SCBWI Conference 2016


Posted entries must arrive no later than Thursday 9th November 2018 to:

Anne-Marie Perks
Beginning, Middle, End
76 White Hill

We regret that submissions sent by post cannot be returned. 

Attending the SCBWI Annual Conference? Bring your work in an envelope to the Portfolio Display designated room on Saturday Morning, 17th November 2018 before the Keynote address. Your work will be judged by a team of industry professionals, publishers and agents at the Annual SCBWI conference in Winchester from November 17-18 2018.

Reminder – you do not have to attend the Winchester conference to participate!

The Main Prize – The winner will receive a one to one appointment with art director, Paula Burgess, and commissioning editor, Emily Lamm from Hachette Children’s Publishing. Appointment will be arranged after introductions for a time of their convenience. 

C O N F E R E N C E   S P O N S O R S

Our main sponsors are:

Main Sponsor: Golden Egg

SCBWI would like to thank the sponsors for their support. SCBWI is a non-profit organization
and does not endorse any products or services provided by external companies.

Illustrations © Mini Grey 2019