Why entering this year’s AOI World Illustration Awards could result in exciting new prospects for illustrators
AOI Awards manager Sabine Reimer explains how entering this year’s World Illustration Awards could result in recognition, exposure and exciting new clients
While the Oscars is probably the best-known awards scheme in the world – its impact is felt around the globe in column inches, Twitter feeds and box office takings – there are plenty of other award ceremonies that have a significant impact for entrants and their respective industries. And the annual World Illustration Awards (WIA) is no exception.
Presented by the Association of Illustrators (AOI), in partnership with the Directory of Illustration, the World Illustration Awards is one of the industry’s largest and most esteemed award schemes. With eight categories that encompass the breadth of illustration, the catalogue of shortlisted work and accompanying touring exhibition provides a snapshot of some of the best work in illustration today.
With so many award schemes in existence, it might be difficult to see the value in entering your work, but lots of illustrators believe doing so is a worthwhile practice – even if the outcome isn’t what you hoped for. Awards raise awareness of your brand and work, give you credibility in the eyes of existing and new clients, showcase you as an ambitious professional, and provide recognition for your hard work.
Children’s Book category winner Alexander T. Smith sees industry recognition as an important aspect of the WIAs. “What’s special about the AOI Awards is that they’re judged by the illustration industry. It’s a lovely experience to feel you have the nod of approval from your peers and contemporaries,” he says.
Winning the award has also expanded his range of work: “The big thing to come out of my award is that the projects I’m being offered or invited to work on are different from before. I will be working on [projects that] are terrifically varied. This is both challenging and really exciting, and is allowing me to really push my work in a new direction,” he explains.
Research and Knowledge Communication (professional category) winner Florian Bayer agrees on the validity of the awards. “Winning the award meant a lot to me. It’s great to get your work validated by an institution with such a reputation.” But that validation has also caused a dilemma: thanks to an increased number of enquiries, he’s had to turn down work. “Many of the commissions were very cool, which is really great, but it’s really sad when you have to say no to a project you would have loved to work on,” says Bayer, who’s currently illustrating a special Review of 2016 issue for Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin while also working on his first children’s book, Wild Animals In Africa With Super Powers.
Commissioners also value the awards. The AOI ensures that the shortlist – which has been vetted by the WIA jury – is promoted to a broad range of recipients, who use it to find fresh new talent. They know that an illustrator who enters the WIAs is serious about their work. It’s a great place to find the next illustration superstar.
As illustration courses burgeon and the number of practitioners reaches an all-time high, awards are an increasingly important way to set yourself apart and be noticed. Just like at the Oscars, winning a WIA translates into career development and a raised profile.
To find out more and enter the WIAs, visit: www.theaoi.com.
The AOI is the UK’s leading illustration body. It strives to promote, empower and advance the illustration industry. www.theaoi.com
Clockwise from far left: WIA launch evening; 101 Dalmatians, by Alex T. Smith; Trump, by Florian Bayer; Nicanor Parra – 100 Years, by Diego Becas Villegas.