Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI-IL Illustrator Mentorship

Art by 2020 Mentee, Robin Haan León
Visit Robin’s Website— thank you, Robin!

Congratulations Erin Hookana!
Email Erin to congratulate her

Watch Denise’s message applauding all the applicants!


—The competition is free and open to all SCBWI members who are Illinois residents.

—The intent of this mentorship is to give a boost to those who are on the verge of publication.
——You cannot be a PAL (Published and Listed) illustrator in picture books.

——You may be a PAL illustrator who is published in chapter books or graphic novels.
——You may be a PAL author who is also an illustrator.

—2022 Mentorship window is January 1 — March 31. Mentee must be available and an SCBWI member during the entire mentorship window. Please consider your availability and renew your membership through March 2022 before applying.

We are proud to announce our 2022 Mentor: DENISE HOLMES

Denise Holmes is an award-winning illustrator and educator living in Chicago, IL with her husband, daughter and tiny dog Mochi. Her work is inspired by the joy and magic of childhood and her journey as a mother. Denise’s illustrations can be found in over a dozen children’s picture books, magazines, greeting cards, and art prints at Crate & Kids. She teaches illustration at Columbia College Chicago as well as drawing workshops for kids and adults. Denise is devoted to sharing her love of illustration and enjoys supporting emerging artists. 


Prize: The grand prize is a three-month mentorship with our inspiring educator and professional, Denise Holmes.


Visit Denise Holmes’ website.


Follow Denise and her creative process:

Denise and SCBWI-IL invite you to apply for the 2022 Mentorship — click here to watch!


Breakdown of Mentorship:

—Mutually agreed upon schedule of 3 online sessions to be completed within 3 months from start (January 2022-March 2022).

—Online sessions with email follow-ups from mentor, as mentee works to improve from suggestions. Mentor will have a working knowledge of the mentee by visiting their website, and/or other social media, and their artist statement from the application.

—Mentor will engage in discussions with mentee of the strengths/weakness of their online portfolio samples to begin the mentorship.

—Choice is given to mentee to improve an existing illustration, or to request an assignment tailored by mentor to address the illustrator’s strengths/weaknesses

—.Bonus: Mentee will be approached to create the website graphic for the next Illustrator Mentorship.


—One entry per person. Each entry will consist of FOUR separate pieces of art that are suitable for picture book or chapter book illustrations or graphic novels.

—Two of the illustrations should be a page-turn sequence from the same story.

—Do not sign artwork or put any identifying marks on illustrations. If you have already signed a piece, please block the signature before scanning.

—Art should be in full color or rendered in black & white, finished and ready for publication. Art should be appropriate for and targeted to children or teens.

—How to name your submission: Think of a brief descriptive title for the first illustration in your series and use it as the title for your saved pdf file. (For example: Girl with a Pearl Earring.) Do not mention your name in the title.


Submission Fee:

There is no fee. This mentorship is supported by SCBWI-IL members’ event attendance fees. Thank you.


Application Period: NOW CLOSED

—The submission window opens at 12 noon on December 5.

—The submission window closes at 11:59 pm on December 12.

Click here for the Illustrator Mentorship Application.


—The mentor will make the final, winning selection.

SCBWI-Illinois will announce the winner on December 20th.


Why can’t I sign my artwork? Judging is anonymous. The judge (mentor) does not know who the contestants are.

Why do I need to submit my art as one multi-page pdf? It’s easier for the mentorship coordinator to keep track of unsigned artwork if the submissions are grouped into one file per applicant.

How do I make a pdf file? Acrobat Writer, Corel Draw, Illustrator, Photoshop and other programs save files as multi-page pdfs. FedEx, Office Max/Office Depot will scan four illustrations and save them as single pdf for $8.

Is it okay to Tweet or post submission images on ANY social media platform? Judging is anonymous. Promoting the contest on social media is great, but please do not mention that YOU have entered NOR post images of your entry. Doing so will result in your disqualification.

What if I receive a contract for my artwork during the contest? Please contact Mentorship Coordinator, Rich Green, to receive congratulations and discuss the situation.


QUESTIONS?: Email Rich Green, 2022 SCBWI-IL Illustration Mentorship Coordinator
This mentorship occurs every 18 months for a 3-month period.

2019     Larry Day           Jason Slater
2020    Terri Murphy        Robin Haan
2022    Denise Holmes   Erin Hookana