Winner of Folio Book Illustration Award 2023

Cristina Bencina

Cristina Bencina is an artist and illustrator living in Aurora, Colorado. Born on Long Island, New York, she studied illustration and received her BFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She specialises in book illustration and her artwork has been selected and featured in various annuals and exhibitions, such as Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, American Illustration and the Society of Illustrators.



Runners-up for Folio Book Illustration Award 2023



Tommy Barclay

Merran Coleman

Den Owen

Nate Sweitzer

Jens Maria Weber

About Tommy Barclay 
Tommy Barclay is an illustrator and designer who grew up on Dartmoor before graduating from Falmouth University in 2019 with a BA in Illustration. He moved to South London to pursue a freelance career in book cover design. He is passionate about drawing and enjoys working outside, sketching people and places as inspiration for narrative illustrations.

About Merran Coleman
Merran Coleman is an artist and illustrator from Cornwall. He has illustrated several children’s books and exhibited work across the UK. The rich history and impressive landscapes of his childhood home first inspired his work. After gaining a BA in Illustration from the University of Brighton, he returned home to Cornwall. Here, he has continued to research the county’s ancient history and mythology. These influences can be seen in his distinct style of creative and striking monochrome pen drawings that hark back to a time full of memory and magic.

About Den Owen
Based in England, Den studied environmental conservation, inspired by a strong interest in birds and nature, but decided to pursue his lifelong passion for art as a career. Den’s hand-drawn illustrations are mostly produced using the traditional method of a dipping pen and ink, which allows him to create organic lines and textures rather than the refined lines of a modern pen. He also works in graphite and coloured pencil. His illustrations cover themes including nature, history, mythology, folklore and dark fantasy, and he has worked on various projects for bands, breweries and books.

About Nate Sweitzer
Nate Sweitzer is a Chicago-born illustrator who graduated from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. He specializes in book illustration, editorial illustration and poster design. His clients include the LA Times, Sports Illustrated Kids, the New Republic, the Ringer and the Detroit Pistons. His work has been awarded and featured by 3x3 magazine, American Illustration, the Society of Illustrators, Illustration West and the One Club for Creativity.

About Jens Maria Weber
Jens Maria Weber is a German illustrator and visual artist. He works with a variety of publishers, studios and film producers; his latest film art assignment was Der Greif with Amazon Studios (2023). Weber is best known for his pencil explorations into the realms of the sinister and surreal. Besides commissioned design and artworks, he creates paper sculptures, drawings and his own books. He also teaches drawing at the University of Applied Sciences in Dortmund, Germany.



Longlist for Folio Book Illustration Award 2023



Natalia Chirkowska

Francesca D'Ottavi

Esther Cuesta de la Mata

Adam Martin

Tamara Martynova

Bryan Perez

Abigail Platter

Bruna Poetini

David Rendo

Ben Strawn

Maria Surducan

Mariella Villalobos

Camille Whitcher

Olga Wieszczyk



Longlist for the Folio Book Illustration Award 2024



From over 700 entries, the judges – Folio Art Directors, Sheri Gee and Raquel Leis Allion, Folio Publishing Director, Tom Walker and FBIA 2023 winner Cristina Bencina have narrowed the selection down to their 20 favourites. The longlist features a wide array of artwork depicting scenes from Neil Gaiman’s short story, ‘The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains’. 
The winner of the FBIA Award 2024 and five runners-up will be announced on July 15.


Jared Boyer

Xinyue Chen

Merran Coleman

Jacob Courtney

Charlie Dixon

Joseph Edwards

Anke Eissmann

Akhran Girmay

Julia Griffin

Maria Luiza Tejerina Gauerio

Jens Maria Weber

Norberto Perez

Zack Rock

Esteban Sanchez

Kristin Siegel-Leicht

Nikki Smetters

Deena So Oteh

Alana Tedmon

Tomislav Torjanac

Mariella Vee Villalobos

Folio Book Illustration Award



Illustration is at the heart of everything we do at Folio. As well as commissioning renowned illustrators and artists, we also nurture new talent and champion artists who work across a diverse range of media, from oil painting and wood engraving to collage and digital illustration.

The Folio Book Illustration Award offers the opportunity for aspiring and established illustrators to provide one piece of artwork in response to Neil Gaiman’s short story ‘The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains’.

The judges – Folio Art Directors, Sheri Gee and Raquel Leis Allion, Folio Publishing Director, Tom Walker and FBIA 2023 winner Cristina Bencina – will be looking for strong characterisation and atmosphere in the entries, along with a demonstrated ability to read and reflect the text. The final piece should illustrate a character-based scene from the story, not solely a portrait of a character.

To make the competition accessible to as many artists as possible, there is no entry fee. An initial longlist selection of 20 entries will be announced in June, with the judging panel announcing the winning artist and five runners-up in July.

The winner will receive a prize of £2,000 cash, plus £500 worth of Folio vouchers, and their artwork will appear in the upcoming Folio collection of Neil Gaiman’s short stories. Each of the five runners-up will receive £500 worth of Folio vouchers. The winning artist and runners-up will also receive a portfolio review by the Folio art directors.

The competition is open to anyone over the age of 18 who has not previously been commissioned by The Folio Society.


Key information 

  • No entry fee 
  • £2,000 first prize, plus portfolio review 
  • Each of the five runners-up receive £500 of Folio vouchers plus portfolio review
  • Winning artwork will be published in upcoming Folio anthology of Neil Gaiman short stories
  • Entries only accepted via Zealous
  • The competition is open to anyone over the age of 18 who has not previously been commissioned by The Folio Society
  • Artwork inspired by any source other than the set text will not be accepted 
  • Artwork created by artificial intelligence is inadmissible

Key dates

  • Competition closes 17:00 (UK time), Thursday 4 April 2024
  • Longlist announced June 2024
  • Winner and runners-up announced July 2024



Please read the following terms and conditions (‘Terms & Conditions’) carefully before submitting an entry to the Folio Book Illustration Award (the ‘Award’). By submitting an entry, you agree that you have accepted these Terms & Conditions.

The Folio Society

The promoter of the Award is The Folio Society Limited (‘The Folio Society’) which is a private limited company registered in England and Wales with number 01015675, whose registered office address is at Clove Building, 4 Maguire Street, London, England, SE1 2NQ.


1 – Entrants must read the approved competition text from The Folio Society (the ‘Approved Text’) and provide one illustration based solely on the Approved Text. Illustrations based on any other text will not be considered. The Approved Text will be made freely available on the Portal (as defined below) which can be accessed via The Folio Society website at

2 - The illustration can be created in any medium suitable for print reproduction and the original artwork can be in any dimensions, but the entry submitted must meet the submission criteria at clause 16 and must not be an Excluded Work (as explained at clause 12).

3 - The subject matter of the illustration should meet the submission criteria described on The Folio Society website at 

4 - The illustration must be accompanied by a short quote (maximum 20 words) indicating which section of the Approved Text has been illustrated.


Eligibility Criteria and How to Enter

5 – Each person (or persons, in the case of joint submissions) submitting an entry (each, and collectively in the case of joint submissions, an ‘Entrant’ or ‘you’) must be aged 18 or older and a human being.

6 - In the case of joint submission, the person submitting an entry pursuant to clause 14 on behalf of the Entrants must be authorised to do so on behalf of each collaborator and agrees to these Terms & Conditions on their own behalf and on behalf of each collaborator. Each collaborator shall be jointly and severally liable in connection with these Terms & Conditions.

7 - The Award is open to Entrants worldwide, save where prospective Entrants are prohibited from doing so by applicable law and/or regulation.

8 - Entry is free. No entry fee is required.

9 - There is a limit of one entry per Entrant. For the avoidance of doubt, persons making a joint submission on a collective or collaborative basis may not submit a further entry either as an individual or in collaboration with a different person or persons. Multiple entries will be disqualified.

10 - Entrants must not have had any of their work previously published by The Folio Society.

11 - Entry artworks must not have been published in any medium prior to or during the Award and must be original works created by a human being for the purpose of the Award.

12 – Artwork generated solely or in part by Artificial Intelligence software and/or machine learning applications is not eligible and will not be considered for the Award by the Folio Society (‘Excluded Works’).

13 - Employees of The Folio Society and any other company engaged in the development, production or distribution of materials for the Award and members of the immediate families or co-habitants of any of the foregoing are not eligible to enter the Award.

14 - Entry is by online portal Zealous (the ‘Portal’) only and Entrants must follow the instructions provided. Details on how to enter can be found here: Submission by any other method will not be considered.

15 - Entries open at 10 am GMT on 5 February 2024 and will close at 23:59 BST on 3 April 2024.

16 - Entries must be submitted via the Portal and must be: 300dpi JPEG or JPG, portrait, 240 x 160mm, RGB colour, without watermarks, maximum file size 3MB.

17 - Only complete entries will be accepted via the Portal. This includes the provision of Entrants’ contact details and whether the Entrant is a student. All entries will be acknowledged by an automated email response at the time of entry. If you have submitted an entry but have not received an automated email response within 12 hours, please re-submit your entry. If the problem persists, please contact 

18 - The Folio Society will not be liable if, for any reason, the Portal is unavailable in part or in whole for any period or for any lost, late, incomplete, misdirected or undelivered entries to the Award.

19 - The Folio Society, in its discretion, reserves the right to disqualify any unsuitable entries. This includes, without limitation, content that is unlawful, harassing, defamatory, abusive, threatening, harmful, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, racially offensive or otherwise objectionable in the opinion of The Folio Society.

20 - Any entry found to be infringing the intellectual property rights or other rights of a third party will be disqualified from the Award.

21 - In submitting your entry, you hereby warrant and undertake to The Folio Society that:

a. you are entitled to enter the Award pursuant to the eligibility criteria set out in these Terms & Conditions and the laws and regulations applicable to you;
b. your entry is your own original work and that you are fully entitled to grant to The Folio Society the rights under clause 30 and that by doing so, you do not violate, plagiarise, or infringe the rights of third parties including copyright, trade mark, trade secrets, privacy, publicity, personal or proprietary rights;
c. there are no third parties who might be entitled to prevent The Folio Society from exploiting the intellectual property rights or reproducing any part of your entry or distributing copies thereof to the public;
d. you will not submit any discriminatory, defamatory or illegal material of any nature whether in text or graphic form;
e. to the extent permitted by law, The Folio Society, its agents, employees, directors, officers and affiliates will not be liable to you for any loss, damage, claims, legal fees or other expenses incurred in connection with the Award save where caused by the gross negligence or fraud of The Folio Society, its agents, employees, directors, officers and affiliates. You further waive absolutely any claims you may have against The Folio Society related to defamation, libel, slander, misuse of private information, right of publicity, trademark violation, copyright infringement or other intellectual property infringement;
f. you agree to indemnify and hold harmless The Folio Society, its agents, employees, directors, officers and affiliates against all loss, damage, claims. legal fees and other expenses that may be incurred by The Folio Society, its agents, employees, directors, officers and affiliates in connection with your breach of these Terms & Conditions.

Judging and Prizes

22 - Entries will be judged by a panel on their merits using the criteria published on The Folio Society website. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence or discussion will be entered into.

23 - A longlist of 20 entries will be announced at noon BST on 4 June 2024.

24 - A winner and 5 runner-up entries will be announced at 12 noon BST on 15 July 2024.

25 - The winner will receive £2,000 in cash, £500 in Folio Society Gift Vouchers and a portfolio review by the Folio Society Art Directors. The 5 other runner-up entries will receive £500 in Folio Society Gift Vouchers and a portfolio review by the Folio Society Art Directors. Prizes are not exchangeable, negotiable or transferrable and no cash equivalent will be offered. The standard terms and conditions applicable to Folio Society Gift Vouchers (available on The Folio Society website: will apply. The cash prize and vouchers will be distributed within 30 days of the winner and runner-up entries being publicly announced. Portfolio reviews will take place reasonably promptly following the relevant Entrant making the portfolio available to The Folio Society. In the case of joint submissions, portfolio reviews will be conducted on a joint rather than individual basis and cash and/or Folio Society Gift Vouchers will be distributed in full to the first named Entrant on the relevant entry. The winner will also have the opportunity for the winning artwork to be included in the forthcoming anthology of short stories by Neil Gaiman, subject to the winner entering into an artwork contract with Folio on terms that grant Folio a licence permitting the artwork to be included in the anthology worldwide.

26 - In the event that any prize or any part of a prize becomes unavailable in circumstances outside The Folio Society’s control, The Folio Society reserves the right to award a substitute prize of equivalent or greater value. Any taxes or costs remain the sole responsibility of the winner and runner-up Entrants.

27 - Longlisted, runner-up and winning Entrants will be notified by email using the contact details provided by the Entrant on the Portal prior to their announcement by The Folio Society.


28 - You agree to keep confidential any confidential information received by you in connection with the Award from The Folio Society, including but not limited to information relating to longlisted, runner-up or winning entries or Entrants (‘Confidential Information’) until such Confidential Information is disclosed to the public by The Folio Society. The Folio Society reserves the right to disqualify or otherwise withhold prizes from Entrants who disclose Confidential Information in breach of this clause.

29 - An Entrant submitting a joint submission on behalf of one or more collaborators must provide a copy of The Folio Society’s privacy policy related to the Award to each such collaborator.

Intellectual Property Rights

30 - Entrants will retain full right, title and interest in the copyright and other intellectual property rights in their entry but in submitting your entry to The Folio Society, you hereby grant The Folio Society (on your own behalf and on behalf of any other author or joint author of the work) an irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty free, perpetual, sublicensable, worldwide licence to:

a. reproduce all or part of your entry in any medium in Award-related materials;
b. publish copies of all or part of your entry including (without limitation) on The Folio Society website, in Award-related materials such as catalogues (print or digital), exhibitions, Award advertising, in-gallery displays (including electronic and screen-based displays), internal management systems, The Folio Society website and social media and on other websites to which we contribute material where the items are made available on a non-commercial basis; and/or
c. to incorporate all or part of your entry in other works in any media now known or later developed in Award-related materials.
d. You agree that no permission will be required by you and no compensation will be due to you to reproduce your entry in the manner described in this clause

31 - The Folio Society reserves the right to use none, part, or all of any entry and may delete any information or data published on its website at any time.


32 - The Folio Society reserves the right to cancel or modify the Award or any element thereof for any reason whatsoever including but not limited to insufficient entries being received or any other circumstance arises that makes it necessary for The Folio Society to cancel or modify the Award or any part of it. The Folio Society has no financial obligation to any Entrant for cancellation or modification, and no compensation shall be due.

33 - If any provision or part-provision of these Terms & Conditions is or becomes invalid, illegal or unenforceable, it shall be deemed modified to the minimum extent necessary to render such term valid, legal and enforceable.

34 - If you do not want to grant The Folio Society the above rights or cannot provide the warranties set out above, please do not submit your entry.

35 - These Terms & Conditions set out the entire agreement between you and The Folio Society in respect of the subject matter described herein.

36 - These Terms & Conditions are governed by and interpreted in accordance with the law of England and Wales. The courts of England and Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any dispute, contractual or non-contractual, relating to these Terms & Conditions or the Award.