The Macmillan Prize 2021

The Macmillan Prize for Illustration 2021 is now open for digital submissions until 28 April 2021.

We are delighted to announce that The Macmillan Prize for Illustration will run in 2021 and that digital submissions will be welcome between 12th April 2021 and 28th April 2021.

Entries are now closed. 

The winners will be chosen by a panel of judges comprising individuals from Macmillan as well as independent guest judges. The judges for 2021 are: 

  • Chris Inns - Chair of Judges and Art and Design Director (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • Suzanne Carnell - Publisher, Two Hoots (Pan Macmillan)
  • Hannah Ray - Publishing Director, Picture Books (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • Steven Pryse - Director at Pickled Pepper Books and current Chair of the Booksellers Association Children’s Bookselling Group 
  • Zoey Dixon - Librarian, Lambeth Libraries and Chair of the Youth Libraries Group
  • Marta Altés - Illustrator
  • Diane Ewen - Illustrator

Established in 1985, this prize is open to all illustrators studying in art schools and colleges, in either full time or part time education. The aim of the award is to stimulate new creative work that helps students to take the first steps in their professional careers. This coveted award has discovered many award-winning and bestselling talents, including Emily Gravett, Lucy Cousins, Ross Collins, Bethan Woollvin and Morag Hood. 

'I won the Macmillan Prize in the final year of my illustration degree. I still count it as one of the happiest days of my life, and it marked a massive shift from dreaming about being an illustrator, to realising that dream. It launched my career. A career that’s been better and more satisfying than I could have ever imagined.'
Emily Gravett
'I feel incredibly lucky to have won the Macmillan Prize last year, it’s an amazing opportunity to develop your projects and to get them in front of industry professionals. I feel really fortunate that I have been able to work on and develop my own children’s picture book with Macmillan, straight after graduating AUB, especially as it deals with themes that are incredibly personal to me.'
Jake Alexander

Entries to the Macmillan Prize 2021 are now closed.



  • a) The Macmillan Prize for Children's Picture Book Illustration (the “Competition”) is run by Macmillan Children’s Books. Macmillan Children’s Books is an imprint of Pan Macmillan which is a trading division of Macmillan Publishers International Limited, a company registered in England with registered number 02063302 and registered office at Cromwell Place, Hampshire International Business Park, Lime Tree Way, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG24 8YJ (“Macmillan”). Macmillan is the promoter of the Competition. 
  • b) By entering the Competition, you are accepting these Terms and Conditions.


  • a) To be eligible for the 2021 Competition, you must be:
    • i) a student enrolled on a course at a higher education establishment in the United Kingdom (part time or full time) in any subject during the academic year 2020/2021
    • ii) a student who was enrolled on a course at a higher education establishment in the United Kingdom (part time or full time) in any subject and who graduated in 2020. We will require written proof of graduation from entrants who graduated in 2020.
  • b) Entrants must be aged 18 or over at the point of entry and must be residents of the United Kingdom. 
  • c) The Competition is not open to professional illustrators or to employees of Macmillan (or members of their immediate families or households) or to anyone else who is connected with the running of or judging of the Competition.


The Competition is open for entries between 00:01 (GMT) on Monday 12th April 2021 and 17:30 on Wednesday 28th April 2021. Please ensure you allow yourself plenty of time to complete your submission before this deadline, as we will not accept entries after this time.  


All entrants must submit:

  1. Pencil roughs or sketches for a children's picture book – cover to cover – including text or a clear indication of the storyline.
  2. Finished artwork for at least four double-page spreads, or at least three spreads and a front cover.

Entrants should bear in mind what is appropriate for the child reader.


Length: Picture books should be between 24 – 40 pages long; this includes the front and back endpapers, a title page and a copyright page. 

Format: Although submissions are digital only, we can accept books with novelty elements (e.g. flaps, fold-out pages), and these should not exceed 24 pages. Pop-up books should not exceed 6 double-page spreads. Novelty entries should be scanned artwork. Photographs to demonstrate novelty elements may also be included but should be part of the PDF.

Size: The page size of the finished book should not exceed 300mm in width or height.


The book may be fiction or non-fiction. The entrant may:

  • a) devise their own text/story; or
  • b) collaborate with a writer; or
  • c) use a traditional story (e.g. a fairy tale).

The text may be typed or clearly handwritten and must be in the English language. 

N.B. A published text that is in copyright would not be eligible and should not
be used.


Size: Artwork may be prepared either to the same size, or up to 30% larger than the page size of the finished book. Corner marks to show the trim (i.e. the edge of the final printed page) should be clearly indicated outside the area of the actual artwork.

Bleed: Allow at least 5mm extra (after reduction) outside the trim if the artwork is to come to the edge of the printed page. Avoid putting important details within 5mm of the edge of the page, or where illustration crosses the spine.

Medium: Any medium may be used, but it is advisable to avoid luminous paint, fragile collage or other media that will not reproduce well.

Lettering: Any lettering should be in black, and should be put onto a transparent overlay, not directly onto the artwork.


  • a) The Competition is for a series of outstanding illustrations that show that the artist understands how to match pictures to text. The pictures should also demonstrate the entrant’s grasp of narrative, pacing and characterisation.
  • b) The judges will focus on the quality of the illustrations rather than the standard of the writing. Good stories are welcome, but the text will not be the main criterion for judging.
  • c) Entries should clearly show how the style and layout of the illustrations contribute towards the development of the story and characterisation. It is important to avoid monotonous layouts with little contrast in composition or colour. Too many words can overwhelm the illustration.
  • d) The judges are ultimately looking for high-quality illustrations suitable for children’s books, which are considered to be an original contribution to the field.


  • a) Entrants may submit more than one entry, provided that the submission criteria set out in these Terms & Conditions is complied with in respect of each entry. Entrants who submit more than one entry may win more than one prize.  
  • b) Entrants who have entered the Macmillan Prize for Illustration in previous years remain eligible to enter this year’s Competition.
  • c) There can only be one named entrant per entry and joint entries are not permitted. Where an illustrator collaborates with a writer it is the illustrator who is eligible to enter the Competition and win a prize and not the writer.
  • d) All artwork must be the entrant’s own original work, must not be copied and must not contain any third-party materials which you do not have permission to use.  Third party materials incorporated into the artwork may only be used with prior written consent of the copyright owner. Macmillan may require entrants to produce evidence of such written consents.
  • e) Where an entrant collaborates with a writer the entrant must obtain the writer’s written consent prior to submission of the entry. Macmillan may require entrants to produce evidence of such consents. As outlined above, a published text that is in copyright would not be eligible and should not be used.
  • f) Entrants are required to immediately notify Macmillan if they become aware of any claim made or threatened that their entry (or any part of their entry) infringes the rights of any third party and entrants agree to cooperate fully with Macmillan in relation to any claims that might arise from Macmillan’s use of the entry and hold Macmillan harmless in respect of any such claims. 
  • g) Entries must not have been previously published nor submitted to a publisher for the purpose of evaluating the entry for publication. 
  • h) Entries must not breach any applicable legislation or regulations or contain any defamatory, offensive or any other unsuitable material and should not reference commercial brands.
  • i) Macmillan reserves the right to disqualify an entrant and their entry where it considers, in its sole determination that:
      • The entry is not the entrant’s own work or does not comply with the requirements of this paragraph 9 or otherwise breaches any of these Terms and Conditions; or
      • The entrant has tampered with or interfered with the entry process or acted in any manner deemed to be disruptive of or prejudicial to the operation or administration of the Competition, or which is contrary to the spirit or intention of the Competition. 


  • a) There is no fee to enter the Competition, although entrants are responsible for all costs associated with preparing and submitting their entries.
  • b) Macmillan cannot accept responsibility for any entries which are uploaded incorrectly, are incomplete, illegible, corrupted or fail to reach Macmillan by the closing date for any reason. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt.

Submission Criteria: 

  • Digital submissions are now closed
  • Please supply digital entries as one PDF file, with a separate page at the front that shows only your name and email address.
  • The file name should only include your full name (Firstname_Lastname).
  • The digital entries will be viewed on a display 1920px X 1080px (150DPI) so we don't need print quality files and files larger than 10MB may not be uploaded correctly.
  • You do not need to supply the text on a separate layer within the pdf. Please include the text within the flattened image.
  • You don’t need to supply both the final colour and rough images for a spread. Final colour pages can appear alongside rough pages in your book.
  • After entering you will receive a confirmation email within 2 hours - please check your junk folder before uploading again. 
  • You can submit your digital entry from 09:00am on 12th April 2021, until the final deadline of 5:30pm on 28th April 2021. 

Submission of high quality prints / original artwork by winners and highly commended entrants

Please note that prize winners and highly commended entrants may be asked to supply the original artwork or a high-quality print-out suitable for exhibition at their own cost. A date this is needed for will be confirmed if an exhibition can go ahead. The artwork will then be framed by Macmillan.

Prints submitted will not be returned.


  • a) All entries which comply with the submission criteria will be shared with the judging panel, who will select the first, second and third prize winners and will also identify a selection of highly commended entries. 
  • b) The prize winners and highly commended entrants will be notified on or before          28th May 2021.
  • c) Prize winners will be notified by phone and by email and highly commended entrants will be notified by email. 
  • d) Entrants who have not won a prize or been highly commended will also notified by email by 28th May 2021.
  • e) Prize winners and highly commended entrants are requested not to post on social media or publicly announce the fact that they have won or been highly commended (including in university/ college publications) until after prizes have been awarded.


  • a) The prizes for the winners of the Competition consist of:
      • First Prize: £1,000
      • Second Prize: £500
      • Third Prize: £250
  • b) Highly commended entrants will not win a prize but will be invited to the prize reception where their work will be exhibited (covid-19 restrictions permitting)
  • c) Prizes are non-transferrable and the judges reserve the right:
      • To award a prize to more than one entrant, in which case the prize money awarded for any of the first, second or third prizes may be split between two or more winners; or
      • Not to award any prizes or a category of prize if they consider that none of the entries is of a sufficiently high standard to merit the award of that prize.
  • d) The judges' decision will be final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into in relation to it. 
  • e) Feedback on entries will be provided solely at the discretion of individual judges and the prizes do not include feedback on the winner’s entries or portfolios.  
  • f) If a winner does not respond to Macmillan within 15 days of being notified by Macmillan, that winner’s prize will be forfeited and Macmillan shall be entitled to award the prize to an alternative winner, chosen in accordance with these Terms and Conditions. 
  • g) The full name, region of residence and photographs of the winners, highly commended entrants and their tutors may be used by Macmillan in any form to publicise the Competition, now and in future years including on Macmillan’s website and social media pages. If you object to such publicity, please do not enter the Competition.


  • a) Prizes will be awarded by way of bank transfer. To receive their prize the winners will be required to provide proof of their bank details and submit an invoice to Macmillan using a template which will be provided. The amount of the prize will be paid within 30 days following receipt of a valid invoice.
  • b) The prize-winners, plus the highly commended entrants and their tutors, may be invited to a reception where the winners’ and highly commended students' work will be exhibited, depending on COVID 19 restrictions.
  • c) Due to COVID 19 restrictions, we cannot yet confirm if a reception will be held. We will confirm this nearer the time. We intend to hold the reception in London in the autumn. With the exception of entry into the event itself, all travel, accommodation and other costs associated with attending the reception are the sole responsibility of the attendees. 


  • a) Entrants shall retain copyright in their entries.
  • b) By entering the Competition all entrants grant Macmillan a non-exclusive, irrevocable, world-wide, royalty-free licence to store, exhibit, communicate to the public and reproduce their entries in whole or in part for the purpose of promoting the Competition this year and in future years and for archiving purposes for the full period of copyright in all media formats whether now known or devised in future (including without limitation on websites and social media channels) and to sub-licence the same, provided that nothing in these Terms and Conditions will oblige Macmillan to use or exhibit an entry and in the event that Macmillan decides not to use or exhibit an entry, the entrant shall have no claim for loss of opportunity to enhance the entrant’s reputation or for any other reason whatsoever.


Macmillan Children’s Books will have the right of first refusal to publish any full picture book derived from or based on any of the prize winning or highly commended entries. Where an offer to publish is made this would include an advance against royalties to be earned. This would be in addition to the prize money. An entrant who accepts an offer to publish will be required to enter into a publishing agreement with Macmillan. 


Please note that all personal information which we process in connection with your entry will be treated in accordance with our Privacy Notice which is available here. Please refer to the section of the Privacy Notice entitled ‘Entrants to the Macmillan Prize for Illustration’ for specific information about how yours and your tutor’s personal information will be used in connection with the Competition.


  • a) Macmillan accepts no responsibility for any damage, loss, liabilities, injury or disappointment incurred or suffered by an entrant as a result of entering the Competition or accepting any prize, including in respect of loss or damage to entries, provided that nothing in these Terms and Conditions shall exclude the liability of Macmillan for fraud or fraudulent misrepresentation, or for death or personal injury resulting from its negligence.
  • b) Events may occur that render the Competition itself or the awarding of the prizes impossible due to reasons beyond the control of Macmillan and Macmillan may, at its absolute discretion, amend these Terms and Conditions or change a prize (to one of equal or greater value) as required by the circumstances.
  • c) The Competition and these Terms and Conditions will be governed by English law and entrants submit to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.


If you have any questions about the Competition or how to enter, email us at: