World Illustration Awards 2021:

Celebrating Great Illustration!

The World Illustration Awards showcase the great work being made by illustrators all over the world today.

In 2021, we will especially celebrate the resilience of illustrators and the industry, particularly during the COVID-19 Pandemic.


Delivered by the AOI in partnership with USA-based Directory of Illustration, the Awards build on a 45-year tradition of the AOI organising juried survey competitions.

This high-profile competition is judged by distinguished professionals from the global illustration industry.

Commissioners value the Awards for identifying current trends and finding undiscovered talent, and illustrators value the connection and sense of community participating can bring.

The Awards are open for submissions from December to February, then the jury evaluates submissions and choses the winners. Announcements are being made from late May for the longlist, September for the shortlist and the Winners being announced in October.

Over the years, many shortlisted and winning illustrators have received significant, career boosting exposure through the awards.

How to enter:

Illustrators, commissioners, agents and tutors are invited to submit work created, commissioned or published since January 2020, until the deadline into the ten categories of the Awards.

Entries need to be made via the online application form.

Here’s what you need to know:

Schedule (please note, deadline is extended to 23 February)


The ten categories reflect the breadth of illustration being created today. Take a look at our resource on choosing your category for guidance on which one to pick.


We have updated the formats you can enter your work in for WIA2021. You can select a single or multiple, and enter either still images, animated gifs, animations as URLs, or a combination of different file types.

Entry Fees

Entry fees can be paid in three currencies: GB Pounds (£), US Dollars ($) and Euros (€). Any other currency will be converted by your card issuer at point of payment.

The entry fees are:
£29 (GBP) per Single Entry // £49 (GBP) per Multiple Entry (inclusive of VAT)
€34 (EURO) per Single Entry // €58 (EURO) per Multiple Entry (inclusive of VAT)
$33 (USD) per Single Entry // $60 (USD) per Multiple Entry

Current individual AOI Members (or corporate members entering their artists at time of payment) receive a 20% discount on their entries (applied automatically at the checkout when logged into member account).

Find out how to become an AOI member here.


Please read the Terms and Conditions before you enter.


Every entry is reviewed by an independent judge, who will use the following criteria to look for great illustration that is:

When you are thinking about what to enter, as well as considering these judging criteria, think about illustration that really sings – work with the spark that lifts it off the page or screen. 

It may be that it has come from a personal passion, or challenged you technically – or been one of those surprise commissions that just works. 

There is no right or wrong  – most illustrators will have at least one project that makes them sit up and think ‘Yes! That’s what I want my work to do’.  Usually, those are the projects to enter.

Support & Promotion

Entries will be promoted throughout the call for entries

  • Selected entries will be promoted on WIA and AOI social media platforms
  • All entrants will receive an email containing resources for promoting their entry.

500 projects will be longlisted for the Awards

  • All 500 longlisted projects will feature on the AOI website. Each project will be displayed on its own page.
  • Longlisted illustrators will receive a digital badge for their website and social media, and a resource for promoting their inclusion in the longlist.
  • Selected projects will be showcased across our social media platforms.
  • All longlisted projects will be judged at the shortlisting stage.

200 projects will be shortlisted for the Awards. Shortlisted illustrators will:

  • Be invited to an exclusive webinar on promoting their inclusion in the shortlist.
  • Receive a set of resources on self promotion and creating content around their participation in WIA2021.
  • See their work featured in a printed full-colour catalogue, which is distributed to commissioners worldwide.
  • See their work featured in an Online Showcase as part of the Shortlist announcement in September 2021.
  • Be invited to attend the Awards Evening in October 2021, a highlight of the illustration industry event calendar. (We really hope to hold this event in person in London, but of course, it may have to take place online depending on the COVID 19 situation).
  • Be invited to attend one of a series of online meet up events for WIA2021 shortlisted illustrators to help you meet and connect.
  • Be offered an exclusive discount on AOI membership for one year.
  • Receive a digital badge for their website and social media.
  • Receive incredible exposure across our digital and real-world networks: the WIA is a proven platform for illustrators to consolidate and expand networks.

Awards & Prizes

The Awards on offer for WIA2021 are:

  • WIA2021 Overall Professional Winner, selected from the Category Winners will receive a coveted WIA Trophy.
  • They will win a generous cash prize of £2,000
  • They will also receive a two-page marketing package in the Directory of Illustration, valued at $4,330 US Dollars, including a 100-image professional portfolio on

  • One of the ten New Talent Category Winners will be named as the WIA2021 Overall New Talent Winner.
  • They will win a generous cash prize £1,000, and a copy of the Directory of Illustration.

Each of the 20 Category Winners (one New Talent and one Professional per category) will receive:

  • A WIA Trophy
  • An enhanced entry in the catalogue.
  • An in depth profile feature on the AOI website as part of the Online Showcase.
  • A complimentary AOI membership with Folio for one year with all the benefits this brings including business advice, discounted online portfolio and Varoom subscription.

  • 20 Highly Commended Projects (one New Talent and one Professional per category) will receive a WIA Certificate.

The Cross-Category Awards on offer this year are:

  • Selected from any AOI Member shortlisted for WIA2021.
  • The winner will receive a complimentary year-long membership plus folio, a copy of the Guide to Law and the current Directories, worth £296.95, a WIA Certificate and profile feature on the AOI website.

  • The DI Award winner will receive a single page marketing package in the Directory of Illustration, valued at $2,695 US Dollars.
  • The program includes a 100-image professional portfolio on plus a one-on-one consultation with a professional Directory of Illustration marketing consultant on how to best present your work to the American market.
  • The winner will also be presented with a WIA certificate and have a profile feature on the AOI website.

  • One shortlisted project will be selected for a cross-category Innovation Award, supported by It’s Nice That, to be awarded for a project displaying considerable innovation and experimentation with the artform.
  • The winner will be presented with a WIA certificate and profile feature on the AOI website.

  • All shortlisted unrepresented New Talent entries will be eligible for the SAA Agents Award for New Talent, offering the winner a six month trial representation with one of the leading SAA Illustration agents.
  • This award includes mentoring and career development.
  • The winner will also benefit from having their work showcased on the SAA’s website and across their social media platforms.
  • The winner will also be presented with a WIA certificate and profile feature on the AOI website.

Our 45-year Awards History

The AOI first ran an annual competition, called Images, in 1975 that was open to any British Illustrator. It was unique then, as the selection for the publication was made by a jury, selecting the best contemporary submissions each year to be published in the annual.

In 2012, Images was replaced by the AOI Illustration Awards. These ran for two years, before The AOI formed a partnership with the Directory of Illustration in the USA and created the World Illustration Awards in 2015.

Previous Images annuals and WIA Catalogues can be purchased here