illustration of animals and children in a park by Maisie Shearring
© Illustration by Maisie Shearring

Our Programme

Picture Hooks provides opportunity and development for emerging picture book illustrators, to help them access the world of children’s publishing.

Although based in Edinburgh, our support is available for all emerging illustrators.

The programme is comprised of several branches:

Buddy Scheme

Our buddy scheme provides an early-stage opportunity for artists from alternative creative backgrounds who want to learn more about illustration: those with talent and passion but without direct illustration experience at university or in the professional world. Artists are carefully paired with established illustrators over six months to develop their style and explore the possibility of a career in children’s picture book illustration.

Learn more about the buddy scheme here.

Mentoring Programme

Our mentoring programme pairs emerging children’s book illustrators with established professional illustrators to polish their work and help launch a career in children’s picture books. During the course of nine months, each illustrator studies the creative process of making a picture book, attends industry masterclasses and develops their work with one-to-one guidance from their mentor, finishing with an exhibition to showcase their illustration work.

Learn more about the mentoring programme here.

View our five Picture Hooks illustrators from the 2023 programme.


We are committed to exhibiting and promoting  the work of our illustrators, either on line or in physical spaces. In previous years, we have held exhibitions with the Scottish National Gallery and with art venues across the UK. 


Regular conferences take place across the UK to demystify the world of publishing. The most recent Picture Hooks conference took place at the Picture Hooks Festival of Illustration in 2021. It was a great success, with panel discussions featuring experts from top literary agencies, publishers and booksellers.


Masterclasses offer additional support and development opportunities. They are advertised on our website and across our social media platforms.


From time to time, we run competitions. We started during lockdown with our popular “From Seed to Table” competitions and received some outstanding entries. The winners of our competitions received £1,000 each. Follow us on social media – we’ll be running more competitions soon.


The work of the illustrator is key to inspiring our first love of books.  We all know and love many picture book characters from their image alone.  The Invisible Prize is a bi-annual award which acknowledges the quiet reach and huge influence of the illustrator. The first Invisible Prize was awarded in 2020 to Pam Smy: a skilled and talented illustrator with a remarkable body of work.  She is fully committed to the value and importance of picture books; someone who has supported and inspired other illustrators, but done so ‘invisibly’ – modest, unassuming, steadily supporting others for years without looking for acclaim.  

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