Picture This! Winners 2022

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Winners 2022 the worldwide picture book illustration competition


the worldwide picture book illustration competition

a nd the winners are…


Lieve Claesen

Joost Oosterwijk Sacha Heemels GERMANY

Annie Kurz Christopher Bonk Karen Runge


Isabella Kuijers Linn Hugo Veronica Bekker

Copyright: © 2022 Lemniscaat b.v., Rotterdam

Cover illustration: © Annie Kurz Photographs: © the winners Picture this! logo: © Tobias Hickey

Juries: The Netherlands & Belgium: Yvon van Oel, Linde Faas, Marieke ten Berge, Jean Christophe Boele van Hensbroek Germany: Jutta Bauer, Dr. Maria Linsmann, Bettina Herre, Dr. Paula Peretti; English translations by Anja Mundt South Africa: Piet Grobler, dr. Mia Oosthuizen, Alida Bothma



information on
l emniscaat rotterdam


The winners 8

The Netherlands & Belgium Lieve Claesen 14 Joost Oosterwijk 18 Sacha Heemels 22

Germany Annie Kurz 26 Christopher Bonk 30 Karen Runge 34 South Africa Isabella Kuijers 38 Linn Hugo 42 Veronica Bekker 46

by the publisher 7

In this catalogue we proudly present the winners of the 2022 edition of the international picture book illustration competition Picture this!, with entries from South Africa, Germany and the Netherlands/Belgium.

From the many entries, juries in these countries chose the three most talented new and unknown illustrators. The result is an impressive demonstration of the versatility and originality of the picture book.

Picture books have become a worldwide art form at which many try their hand, from newcomers to more established artists. And with good reason, as picture books are now a cherished part of many a child’s and parents’ world. Also in child day-care centres, reading picture books is becoming a regular activity, which often inspires all sorts of further activities.

In short: the picture book is here to stay!

Nevertheless, coming to notice and finding a publisher often remains a challenge for recently graduated illustrators. That is why publishers, academies and other cultural institutes banded together in 2014 to launch the Picture This! competition: as a platform for upcoming talented illustrators to demonstrate their ability.

To bring the winners’ work to attention, this catalogue is distributed online among picture book publishers, art institutes and academies, worldwide. Also, exhibitions of the work by the winning illustrators will travel along art institutes and libraries in the participating countries.

On behalf of the juries of the Worldwide Picture Book Illustration Competition, the International Institute for the Picture Book in Society, Lemniscaat Publishers/The Netherlands & Belgium, Protea Publishers/South Africa, and S. Fischer/Sauerländer & the Bilderbuchmuseum in Troisdorf/ Germany, we wish you much enjoyment and the artists every success!

the worldwide picture book illustration competition


Sacha Heemels Lieve Claesen Joost Oosterwijk
Annie Kurz Karen Runge Christopher Bonk


Isabella Kuijers Veronica Bekker Linn Hugo
t he winning art...

three weird birds LIEVE CLAESEN

WEIRD BIRDS The main characters are three ‘weird’ birds. Due to unpleasant circum stances, they have to leave their homes and go in search of safe places. Who knows, maybe they will find a new home there?

They experience all sorts of adventures, meet other characters and get to know each other and themselves better along the way. During their search and adventures, all kinds of emotions come up.


LIEVE CLAESEN lives in the Belgian part of Limburg. She is a teacher at KNST in Hasselt. Under the name Onar Originals, she draws cards with humour and cards for consolation. Lieve has been drawing since she was a child. She attend ed the academy in Pelt from the age of nine and graduated at the studio for free graphics | Higher Art Education in Hasselt. Finding out what you can do with different materials on paper is a passion for her. Whether it’s with pencil, coloured pencil, charcoal, gouache, acrylic, graphic tech niques, watercolour or ink; drawing is what she likes doing best.

She participated in Picture this! with her self-composed story ‘Three weird birds’. For these illustrations she used graphite pencil, coloured pencil, charcoal, brush and kneaded eraser. Lieve loves trees and gets inspiration from nature. In her world there may also be (a lot of) fantasy... especially to help draw and make illustrations!

15LIEVE CLAESEN - Three weird Birds
Will they find a safe place? A new home? And if so, is there a home they can live in? Perhaps the reader, however small and young, can help them.


The jury is very impressed with the technique Lieve uses. What works well is that the protagonists, the little birds, are placed in a large world. As a reader/viewer, you identify with the little birds and become curious about where they are going.

The illustrations are exciting. The characters are original and funny. You can

‘read’ their emotions from the pictures. Because all three birds are depicted in their own colour and character, there is a coherence between the prints that draws the reader into the story.

The subtle ‘appearance’ of the whales under the boat of these three strange birds creates tension and adds depth to the scene.

17LIEVE CLAESEN - Three weird Birds

the cat spirit JOOST OOSTERWIJK

THE CAT SPIRIT It is another grey day when Louise finds a huge cat spirit in an alleyway. It wants to move on, but it is lost in this manmade world. Louise decides to help this creature and the two of them set on a journey to find the last place that is still connected with the spirit world. They move through the city, where the people don’t notice them. Maybe they can’t see the spirit, maybe they don’t care, maybe they can’t see it because they stopped caring a long time ago. But help finds them. A small mouse spirit, who decided to stay a long time ago, shows them the way and finally they reach the raven.

In contrast with the gloomy surroundings, this is a story about hope and connecting with strangers, human or otherwise.

JOOST OOSTERWIJK started drawing when he was 34 years old. He studied architecture at Delft University of Technology, after which he worked as an architect and lighting designer in the Netherlands and abroad. Joost has always been fascinated by the stories that could be played out in his designs. And because of this fascination, at the age of 34, he found his way to illustration. With a pencil in his hand, he no lon ger just created surroundings and atmosphere, but also characters and stories. After his daugh ters were born, he rediscovered picture books and developed a fondness for this form of storytelling. He illustrates and writes mainly for children, but anyone who is open to other ideas and worlds is welcome to join him on a voyage of discovery.

Joost grew up in the countryside of Drenthe and has lived in the Netherlands, Spain and Qa tar. He now lives with his wife and two daughters in Brussels.


JURY REPORT The star in these illustrations is clearly the luminescent ‘Cat Spirit’ from the story. The jury was immediately captivated by the beautiful image and the special feeling that the cat evokes. The story told in the three illustrations is interesting in itself, but it also makes one curious about what preceded these scenes and what is still to come.

Also striking are the various angles and compositions that the illustrator has chosen for the events. Sometimes close-up and sober, sometimes more from a distance, with more details.

The choice of technique and materials used also makes this winner unique. Firstly, because the illustrations are in black and white and grey tones, but also because the use of


pencil and chalk works very well. The digital processing adds to the effect.

The style that Joost shows is self-willed and graphic novel-like, which makes the jury suspect that his work will also be appreciated by an older audience (children and adults). The theme of the story (alienation, not knowing where to go) is portrayed in a positive way.

JOOST OOSTERWIJK – The Cat Spirit 21

the moon always stays the same


THE MOON ALWAYS STAYS THE SAME What if you are forced to leave everything you know behind? It happens to little polar bear. Together with his mother, he leaves the North Pole in search of food. On the way, everything is strange and scary, like the dark forest in which they end up. But gradually the forest opens up and becomes lighter. Then suddenly little polar bear sees something beautiful in the sky, something that reassures him and reminds him of home. His mother tells him that it is the moon and that, wherever you are, it always stays the same.

A story about homesickness, about being far away from home and how nice it is to have something familiar.


SASCHA HEEMELS lives in Roermond, to gether with her boyfriend and two children. After the academy Sacha started working as a designer in the textile industry. There she was mainly occupied with colour design. Drawing comple tely faded into the background, but when she lost her regular job during the corona crisis, she again had time and space to pick up her old love. She experienced how happy that made her, and decided to take the plunge and started working as an illustrator, specializing in picture books. It is Sacha’s dream to write and illustrate picture books herself that can enrich the lives of a new

generation of children, and that they in turn will read to their own children.

Sacha prefers to work analogue, with water colour. She scans these illustrations and then processes and optimizes them digitally. Charac teristic of her work is a rather realistic image combined with picturesque backgrounds. Some thing that watercolour is very suitable for. She also likes to use different perspectives, as this gives extra tension and dynamics to an image. Her know-how of colours, developed during her years of experience as a colourist, is reflected in the well thought-out and refined use of colour.



The jury was immediately captivated by the beautiful images in the night-time snow and the wayward look of little polar bear. The tranquil compositions and the seemingly simple story radiate a successful sense of security and calm.

The illustrations in watercolour are very carefully and thoughtfully painted and worked out. The colour blue is really icy and the glow of the moon is pleasantly present everywhere.

The three different perspectives also stand out. The illustrator clearly made this choice consciously. And it works! First from above, then very close and then zoomed out again with a perspective from the ground.

The consistent style and colour palette make the illustrations very ‘readable’.

The subtle little footsteps of little polar bear between the big steps of big polar bear really add to the whole.

25SACHA HEEMELS – The Moon always stays the same...

death would rather be a celebrity ANNIE KURZ

DEATH WOULD RATHER BE A CELEBRITY Death has had enough. Enough of the blaming and accusing him of everything that is bad in the world! Enough of the ugly words to describe ‘him’! Horrible, painful, sad, horrific... Do you know any other terrible words to describe Death? Exactly! That’s why Death has decided to change this. He wants to be adored instead, appreciated, and admired. Dreaming about becoming like Superman or Superwoman, like a movie star... a real celebri ty. Determined to change his job to find what he hopes for, Death leaves his scythe behind, stops doing what he normally would be doing. Excited and ready for change, he sets out into the world to try out new careers. First he

becomes an artist, later a rockstar, a doctor and a judge. He tries his talents as a chef, a football player and even explores being a magician. However, every time, with every new job there is just one big problem – Death does not seem to be made for these tasks and fails miserably at all his experiments. As an artist he would not know what to paint, as a chef his culinary creations are awful... After several attempts Death realizes that people might never love or admire him but it becomes obvious that humans and all living beings really need him to continue his job. Emotionally touched, Death finally goes back to work doing what he nor mally would do... One day however, he might have enough again ...

ANNIE KURZ is a Hungaro-German interdisciplinary artist and de signer currently living in a small town near Stuttgart, Germany. She was born in 1980 in Satu Mare, Romania, and holds a degree in Textile and Fashion Design and an MA in Design, Fine Art Conception from Reutlin gen University. There she also has been accepting lecturerpositions in different Design fields since 2017. Parallel to her MA , she also studied Art History and Philosophy in 2011 at the Eberhardt Karls University Tübin gen. After over ten years of working abroad in London in 2006 and later in New York, Annie Kurz currently is a PhD candidate at the University of Art and Design Offenbach am Main, Frankfurt. Her research aims to con tribute to inquiries into human-technology relations as defined within the philosophy of technology.

In 2021, she founded a small Art and English school for kids in Süßen, Germany. Motivated through this experience with children as well as her own two kids, she started re-visiting her notes and illustration sketches of her collection of ideas for children’s stories. Death would rather be a celebrity – in German: Vom Tod in Rosarot – was developed and written during her studies in 2005 and re-designed in 2022 for the Picture This! competition.


JURY REPORT Cobbler, stick to your trade… does this also apply to death? We are dealing here with what is obviously a very enjoyable picture book about death. He no longer wants to be the bad and evil guy. Wanting to break the mould he tries out various things before realising that he is only good as death and also actual ly needed as such. It could be that the wit and the irony of the story and also the images (i.e. the Dali quote in the artist named Death) will appeal more to adults. So this is an all-age book. In keeping with the story, the illustration style with collage elements is simple, modern and cheeky, leaving any conventional realistic, colour ful children’s book style far behind. Very refreshing.

29annie kurz – Death would rather be a Celebrity

the pattern thief CHRISTOPHER

THE PATTERN THIEF It’s noon in the African savannah. Zebras are grazing on the ground, a giraffe is munching on some leaves. Everything seems just as usual… but what is that?! Animal by animal suddenly loses their patterns. Spots and freckles, stripes and creases – they all simply disappear. The animals are furious, but nobody has a clue what happened to them. Only the old Marabou knows whom to blame: the pattern thief! Are they going to find the culprit and manage to get their patterns back?


CHRISTOPHER BONK is an illustrator and animator from Gelsenkirchen, Germany. He graduated in 2019 from Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts and is currently attending the Master’s programme in communication design at Folkwang University Essen.

Oscillating between pixels and paper, he draws, models, animates and occasionally codes with a favel for distinctive design, quirky characters and unusual storytelling.

31CHRISTOPHER BONK – The pattern Thief

JURY REPORT At the beginning of the story everything appears to be the same as always. The zebras are leisurely grazing in the sunshine. But all at once their stripes have disappeared. And the other animals, too, are suddenly without their patterns and very upset. Who has sto len their patterns? Only the old marabou knows the pattern thief. Will they be able to convict the thief?

Christopher Bonk’s illustrations dispense with detailed surroundings; monochrome yet structured surfaces nonetheless evoke the feeling of shimmering heat. The vegetation surrounding the animals is just as two-dimensional, flat – but in conjunction with the warm colours, this gives the story the appropriate atmosphere. It would be good to know the end of the story. Will the animals get their patterns back? Or do they get entirely new patterns?

33CHRISTOPHER BONK – The pattern Thief

the night delivery KAREN RUNGE

THE NIGHT DELIVERY Two girls travel with their fantastic mount through the night to deliver a letter under a blue moon. They

travel through a city in which the daylight people sleep and the creatures of night and dream reign. The scenes will enfold like a ma


gic carpet in the illustrations and leave a lot of details to discover for the readers to spin their own stories…

KAREN RUNGE studied illustration at Akade mie Minerva, Groningen, the Netherlands and the Royal College of Art, Stockholm, Sweden. After receiving her diploma in illustration in 2000 she moved to Berlin where she works as a free lance illustrator and creator of stories that aim to entertain the inner child in everyone. Works by her were chosen for the Bologna Illustrators Exhibition 2005 and shown in exhibitions in Berlin, Stockholm, Yokohama, Chioggia, Rome, Naples, Venice and Turino.

35KAREN RUNGE – The Night Delivery


This almost wordless book relies entirely on the power of illustra tion, when it tells the story of two girls who deliver a mysterious letter one night while riding on a strange big cat. In the process they encounter peculiar creatures. Blue is the dominating colour accent in these pictures, which are illuminated by a dreamlike moon. Poetic illustrations, carried out in a mixed technique of opaque colours, coloured pencils, ink and gel pens, unleash their effect. Loving details invite us to take a closer look.

When the letter finally reaches its recipient, she is overjoyed. Is it the long-awaited love letter, a promising treasure map or the recipe for a delicious midnight cake? This riddle remains unsolved, but there is plenty of room for the reader’s own imagination. At the end of the book there is only this question: ‘What did the letter say?’ Underneath, Karen Runge leaves space to write or draw your own letter, just as you like.

37KAREN RUNGE – The Night Delivery




RED RIDING HOOD In this story a young girl sets off to deliver a basket of goods to her grandmother. On the way, she meets a malevolent wolf. The wolf leaves Red Riding Hood and gets to her grandmother’s house

before her. He then eats the grandmother and disguises himself as her. When Red Riding Hood arrives, he eats her too. Luckily a lumber jack arrives and rescues them.

ISABELLA KUIJERS was born in Cape Town in 1992. She completed a Bachelors of Fine Art with a major in English Literature at Stellenbosch University in 2014 and a Masters of Fine Art (with distinction) from London Metropolitan University in 2021. She has had four solo exhibitions with 99 Loop, and one solo exhibition at the prestigious Association of Visual Arts (AVA) in Cape Town. She has exhibited extensively in group shows at Salon91, Smith, Grande Provence and Barnard Gallery among others. As well as working as a full time artist, Isabella writes reviews and analysis for the online publication: artthrob.co.za


JURY REPORT Isabella shows the best technique and drawing ability, as well as an understanding of contemporary picture book illustration. If one can draw this way, why should the colouring work be done with

the digital medium? Her use of colour and composition and alternating viewpoints testify to visual intelligence.

Her style, coupled with her handling of colour and spaces, leaves room for a picture


book that speaks to an alternative audience and makes the transition to picture books that are not primarily aimed at younger children.

Her choice of three different points of view promotes context and characterisation, while

supporting the emotional state of the main character and space.

Her drawing ability stands out. The varying perspectives from which she approaches each illustration are exceptional.

Riding Hood

the owl and the pussycat

ITHE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT is a retelling of an Edward Lear tale of two lovers. The story was inspired by a line from the original short story: ‘they sailed away for a year and a day’. The version that Linn decided to tell of this wellknown story represents the gap in between the journey as the owl and the pussycat search for a ring in order to finally get married.


LINN HUGO was born in 2000 and is from the Western Cape, South Africa. She is a third year BA Visual Communication student at the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography, majoring in Applied Illustration Design. She has a love for illustration as well as combining digital and traditional techniques to create some thing unique to her as an illustrator. She wants to transport viewers of her illustra tions through a portal into her imagination and create weird, wonderful things.

43LINN HUGOI – The Owl and the Pussycat

JURY REPORT The images are interesting and contemporary, even bordering on being obscure. Certainly not mainstream, perhaps not so clearly geared towards the common denominator of ‘young readers’ and therefore not ideal for publishers, but I do feel that experimenting should be encouraged in young work as well.

Linn’s entry is the only one that really pushes the boundaries of space, characterisation and me dium. The simplicity of her scenes leaves a lot of room for self-interpretation and imagination.


I was struck by the playfulness and simplicity in Linn’s illustrations. Her work is a bright spot for me in the sense that she is the only one who plays around a bit with ideas and technique, and does it partly by hand (which is a bonus for me). I like the mixed media combination she uses and the cutting and pasting of paper, combined with watercolours and photos. The unconventional way she runs the text through the illustrations, as well as the layout of the pages and the compositions of her illustrations, make her work exciting, and I would love to watch her in the future.

45LINN HUGO – The Owl and the Pussycat

8 seconds with bear

8 SECONDS WITH BEAR Boy can’t sit still, even if his life depends on it – which it has… several times. Luckily his best and imagi nary (don’t worry Boy knows) friend Bear is there to help calm but mostly save him. If Boy counts to eight, Bear appears, and they spend the time organising thoughts and ideas. But this time, Boy accidently counts to nine.

Bear and Boy can’t seem to find their way back to reality. They are stuck in Blue Forest

where everything is quiet, everything is blue and Boy is miserable. The only way to escape is to create noise, and the only way to create noise in a place that is perfectly quiet? Well, it’s of course to sing as loud as you can.

Can Boy remember how to sing in this place where it has never been done? Or will Bear and Boy spend the rest of their lives in Blue Forest… where everything is so… quiet.

VERONICA BEKKER (Nikè) was born in the small town of Tromps burg in the Free State province in 1989 with a wild imagination and an instant love for drawing on the walls. After spending three years (2009–2012) ministering to the kids of South Africa through theatre, she was taught the value that visual arts and storytelling can instill in kids.

She completed a Bachelor of Arts in the Motion Picture Medium with a major in Animation and Screenwriting at The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance (AFDA), Cape Town) in 2013, and an Honours in Animation (cum laude) in 2014 from the same school. She won best animator and animation both years.

Now residing in the beautiful but still small town of Harrismith, her biggest accomplishment is managing a full-time job outside the arts, freelance illustrating and raising her three children. Her biggest hope and dream is that this will change soon to only illustrating.


JURY REPORT She has a sound command of the digital medium, thereby creating a good atmosphere using colour, contrast and light sources.

The illustrations are beautiful and join a popular style that is currently quite abundant in picture books as well as in animation. Each illustration forms a lovely image to look at, while the story concept has potential. The illustrator shows a flair for the picture book genre and the young child as a target market.

She manages to get a nice watercolour feeling in her work, even if it is done digitally. She knows how to use her medium, and how to create atmosphere with the textures of the leaves, colour, light, and shadow. There is a magical feeling to her work, but without much character. The illustrations are fun to look at, and I think she will be able to make beautiful books.

49VERONICA BEKKER – 8 seconds with Bear


Lemniscaat Publishers (nl)

The International Centre for the Picture Book in Society (gb) Walker Books (gb)

Protea (sa)

The Burg Wissem Bilderbuch Museum Troisdorf (de) S.Fischer Verlage/Sauerländer (de) Paula Peretti Literary Agency (de)

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