Winners Announced: 2019 ASA Style File Illustration Award Mentorships

We are thrilled to announce the winners of the inaugural 2019 ASA Style File Illustration Award Mentorships. Thanks to a grant from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, the ASA has been able to offer eight free mentorships tailored for exclusively for illustrators’ portfolios and picture book projects.

The eight successful illustrators receiving a mentorship are:

Portfolio mentorship winners

Rosalind Lois Bury

Sarah Davies

Ana Maria Mendez Salgado

Janet Tiitinen

Rebecca Timmis

Ruth-Mary Smith

Picture Book mentorship winners

Berni Barker

Susannah Crispe

The winners will work closely with a mentor selected from the ASA Mentors’ Register for five hours to improve their professional portfolio or seek guidance on their picture book illustration project. The winners will also receive a year’s free access to the ASA Style File, the ASA’s curated illustration portfolio service.

The applications were assessed by Dyan Blacklock and Serena Geddes, who shared the following comments about the applicants and the winners.


Dyan Blacklock

Dyan Blacklock was the publisher at Omnibus Books for almost twenty years during which time she discovered Markus Zusak, David Cornish, Michael Bauer and many other highly successful creators.  She now works as a literary agent and represents some of Australia’s most talented writers and illustrators.

Serena Geddes

Serena Geddes is an International Children’s Book Author and Illustrator with over fifty titles and ten years experience in the publishing industry. She is the illustrator for the highly successful Lulu Bell series which has sold over a quarter of a million copies and illustrated board books, picture books and chapter books for Australia’s top publishers.

Earlier this year her first author/illustrator picture book Rosie and Rasmus was released by Simon and Schuster USA, with several new titles in the works due for release in 2020. She gained most of her training working for Walt Disney Studios in Sydney as an assistant artist / in-betweener on Saturday morning cartoons and sequels to the Lion King, Peter Pan and Jungle Book.

Assessor Comments

“It was such a pleasure to be one of the judges for the first Style File Mentorship Portfolio and Picture Book submissions. There was a broad array of talent and styles to review and an encouraging emergence over all of new, and old, talent coming through. Artists works varied in technique, preferred medium and skill level. These artists and their portfolios have been inspiring and diverse. It is reassuring to see so many people following what they love and that there is a market for such illustrators.

Congratulations to the winners for the Style File Mentorship Program. These are exciting times and I hope that with guidance from those of us already in the industry you will feel ready to submit to publishers and hopefully embark on a journey into children’s literature. Enjoy the journey and remember all you need is just one ‘Yes”. Opportunity opens many doors.”

– Serena Geddes

“It was a pleasure to review the applications for the ASA illustration mentorships 2019.

Illustrators are always the least able to find such support in the children’s book world and it is vital to both develop and encourage them.

There was a wide variety of styles, both in terms of the media and the approach.  From cartoon to realism the works ranged from the highly commercial to styles more suited to literary picture books.  It was clear that there were illustrators with quite unique approaches as well as those who were more traditional, but all demonstrated a passion for their work.

In the picture book section, it would have been very valuable to see a complete manuscript or at the least an outline of the story; it is hard to assess a work on the basis of just a few images without a manuscript to support it.  In some cases, the pencil thumbnails were very difficult to read.  It would be useful if these were inked and at a higher resolution.  As well it is important to show the most original story ideas possible.

Portfolios contained a broad range of styles and were wonderfully diverse.  Some illustrators demonstrated a very high degree of skills. It is recommended that portfolios show black and white line work as well as colour since publishers look for both.  I am personally always keen to see the sort of loose work most usually contained in sketch books as well.

The winners are to be congratulated.  They were, as a group, talented and demonstrated a great breadth of creative ideas.  The mentorship will assist them find new ways to express their talent and their ideas.”

– Dyan Blacklock


The 2019 ASA Style File Illustration Award Mentorships is generously supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.

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