The Book Illustration Competition 2020 opens for entries!

Image: Max Loffler, winner of the BIC 2018 award, created this stunning cover and illustrations for The Folio Society edition of The Selected Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

The Folio Society and House of Illustration have announced the opening of the Book Illustration Competition 2020, which gives both students and professional illustrators the opportunity to win a highly sought-after commission from The Folio Society.

The tenth annual competition asks entrants to illustrate poetry for the first time by creating three pieces for Love Poems, a brand-new anthology selected and edited by Imtiaz Dharker that ranges through time and across cultures.

The three poems to be illustrated for the competition are by Imtiaz Dharker, Emily Dickinson and John Donne, and this year’s competition will close on Friday 17 January 2020.


Image: Darya Shnykina, winner of the BIC 2017 award, her impressionism artwork are showcased on the cover and inside illustrations for The Folio Society edition of Mansfield Park


The annual international competition is open to any illustrators over the age of 18 who have not been previously commissioned by The Folio Society. All entries are judged anonymously by a panel of judges which will be announced in December 2019.

The longlist will be announced on Valentine’s Day 2020. The winner will be revealed at an awards ceremony at House of Illustration, receiving a commission from The Folio Society worth £5,000 to complete the illustrations and the binding for this edition.  Five prizes of £500 each will be presented to the other shortlisted entries.


Art Director at The Folio Society and BIC judge, Sheri Gee, said:

‘This is the first time we have asked entrants to illustrate poetry – and by three different poets. I look forward to seeing how they’ll translate each poem’s imagery in their illustrations and their ability to evoke emotion. Poetry isn’t easy to illustrate – it’s not necessarily about being literal, so I think we’ll be equally challenged when judging.’


Image: Max Loffler, winner of the BIC 2018 award, created this stunning cover and illustrations for The Folio Society edition of The Selected Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes


Director of House of Illustration and fellow judge Colin McKenzie, said:

‘We are delighted to be launching the tenth Book Illustration Competition with The Folio Society, once again offering illustrators this unmissable opportunity to work to a live brief set by one of the UK’s most prestigious publishers. We’re excited that for the first time this year the selected book takes us into the world of poetry and look forward to seeing the ways in which entrants will respond to the three very different poems that have been chosen.’


The poems, and other details on how to enter the competition, can be downloaded from the House of Illustration website.

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