Tips and advice from our WIA2020 winners!

From practical to tips looking after yourself (and taking a break from social media), we asked our WIA2020 award winners what advice they would to give to other illustrators. Here are a few tips for success for entering WIA2021 and beyond:


Draw and then draw some more

Draw, draw and draw! Especially drawing from life. I think like everything else, to keep practising is key to keep improving and when we draw from life we feed our visual library. Stay curious and excited! If we enjoy what we do, that excitement is translated to our work!

Mariajo Ilustrajo, WIA2020 New Talent Overall Winner

Celebrate your individual style

There is only one of you. Your life is interesting whomever you are. Embrace those experiences and let them guide your work. There is a lot of work being created that looks the same and the commercial arts have always been that way – people want to work. But that journey to finding a personal voice is a beautiful one. I’ll be on it my entire life.

Francis Vallejo, WIA2020 Professional Commercial Publishing Category Winner


There’s no one way to do things

There is no one correct path that leads to becoming an illustrator; trust your instincts, as they will guide you towards the path meant for you.

Amber Vittoria, WIA2020 Professional Overall Winner


Connect with others

Make friends, not contacts. As creatives we’re fortunate to surround ourselves with inspiring people.

Peter Phobia, WIA2020 New Talent Advertising Category Winner


Tidy up

Plan! Organise! Tidy your desk! Then make it all messy again and cry and start again. Improve. There is always room to try new things and for improvement. Just push yourself that little bit harder and your work will always benefit from more thought and more experimentation.

Yasmeen Ismail, WIA2020 Professional Children’s Publishing Category sponsored by Walker Books winner


Trust yourself

Trust in your own pace and process. Social media is great but it can narrow your perspective on the work you do. Because it can lead you to embrace the opinion of others too much and too early and hold you back from finding your own voice. Try to find someone whose advice and opinion you value and you can share ideas and discuss work with.

Jan Robert Duennweller, WIA2020 Professional Advertising Category Winner


Don’t doubt your work

I couldn’t get my book ‘A Spot of Loneliness’ published and so decided to do it myself. Once I had the books I went into an independent comic shop in London to ask them if they’d stock it. They turned me away saying no one would buy it and made me feel very small. The books ended up selling out and have taken me to win an award with the AOI! I feel very proud that I didn’t let others bring my confidence down.

Aysha Tengiz, WIA2020 Professional Alternative Publishing Category Winner

Set goals

You can always change a little or adjust here and there but it’s very rewarding to finish what you set out to do. Creating novel works lies somewhere in between following closely what your peers are doing and doing the exact opposite.

Jacques Kleyhans, WIA2020 Professional Exploration Category Winner


Be kind to yourself

Step away when things aren’t working. If you’re close to laying your forehead on the table and crying in frustration, get out of your chair and step away for a few minutes or for the night. You don’t need to figure it out today.

Lauren Emmons, WIA2020 New Talent Site Specific Category Winner


Work with subject matter that inspires you

Pursue the subject matter that your connected to and passionate about.  Personally I think doing this has always resulted in my best work. Joshua

Joshua Donkor, WIA2020 AOI Members Cross-Category Award Winner


Have fun

How you feel while making things always gets embedded in the work, so the more fun you have the better the piece will be. Always ask yourself what you could be doing to enjoy yourself more.

Jess Hannigan, WIA2020 New Talent Exploration Category Winner


To take part in WIA2021 read all the information here and submit your entries by 15 February 2021!


18th December 2020
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