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Maverick at Ilustratour!

Maverick were kindly asked this year to partner up with Plum Pudding Illustration Agency for the annual Plum Pudding Prize, hosted and presented at Spain’s illustration festival Ilustratour.

Presentation photo

Ellie joined Plum Pudding’s founder and managing director, Mark Mills for the very exciting weekend at Matadero in Madrid. Here’s how she got on…

Our editor Kim always says one of her favourite parts of this job is when we receive samples or sketches from our illustrators. It’s like Christmas come early. I have to agree and I really enjoy flicking through  portfolios and scouring Pinterest for all the talented artists in the world of children’s publishing. So when I was offered the chance to spend a whole weekend at an illustration festival, help judge a prize and personally meet some of Spain’s up and coming illustrators, I didn’t hesitate to accept, especially when I found out it would be taking place in Madrid!

About a month before the festival, Mark sent us over the whopping 240 submissions for the prize. This was the first year that Plum Pudding opened the applications to all illustrators, regardless of whether they would be attending Ilustratour. As a result we were inundated with some amazing submissions.

Miranda Rivadeneira – Shortlisted

Kim and I spent a lovely afternoon stocked with tea and biscuits making a short list. This proved rather difficult… We ended up with a long list which we shared with Mark who also had a long list. Then commenced a rather long series of polite yet stubborn emails discussing who should be in the top 3 and who should be in top ten.

Hittouch- shortlisted

Eventually after some serious debate and a little bit of compromise we had three very talented winners and a long list which could not be trimmed any further. There was just too much talent to choose from.


Teresa Amos – shortlisted

With a list in place, a presentation made and bags packed, I headed to the airport last Friday for a very early flight at 7:30am. By mid-morning I was in Madrid and, lucky me, I had a free afternoon to explore as I wished!

First thing I should say, Madrid is a beautiful city. It’s large and vibrant and perfect to explore. I spent my afternoon at the Museo Sofia Reina, home to Madrid’s modern art collection including Picasso’s huanting Guernica and some of Salvador Dali’s early works.


This proved the perfect start to an artistic weekend and I was ready to meet the rest of the editors, illustrators and organisers at the cocktail party that night. I truly was spoiled.

Mark and Me and Friday’s Cocktail Party.

Saturday morning offered a late start with a coffee meeting with some of the other international editors invited to the festival.  I should mention that the festival took place at the Matadero. This is Madrid’s version of the Southbank Centre and is an old converted Abattoir. It was a very unusual setting, but well worth a visit!

Our coffee meeting took place in the Theatre’s pub. It was interesting to discuss what different agencies and publishers in other   countries looked for in an illustrator and it was a real eye-opener to the different trends in each national market. One thing we could all agree on was our love of picture books and our delight at being surrounded by so many talented illustrators. All of the international editors were invited to take part in the network which took place across the whole weekend where we each met with different illustrators and offered some portfolio review.

Madrid 8

Portfolio review

My portfolio review took place both afternoons and I was very privileged to meet with some wonderfully talented illustrators. We don’t generally get to meet with our illustrators at Maverick as it is so easy to work with international illustrators over email now-a-days. It was a real treat to sit down with different illustrators and discuss their work face-to-face. I was blown-away by the portfolios I saw and I very much hope that we find some opportunities for these illustrators at Maverick.

The big day was Sunday! The prize giving took place Sunday morning and after breakfast I was starting to get a bit nervous. I was even more so when Mark admitted his nerves too…

Mark and me presenting the Plum Pudding Prize.

Of course there was nothing to worry about! We were introduced to a growing crowd who were buzzing with anticipation and then proceeded to discuss our decisions behind each of the illustrators in the shortlist. We took a casual conversational approach and some very talented linguists translated every word for the predominantly Spanish crowd. As we got closer and closer to the final three, I noticed everyone wriggling in their seats… And the finalists were…

In third place was Adriana Santos!

Adriana Santos

We felt that Adriana employed an unusual perspective to create and interesting spread. Her use of colour successfully highlights the main focus point of the page and she has managed to draw both the bear and human characters very convincingly. Overall this was a very Maverick spread!

In second place was Zuriñe Aguirre!


Zuriñe Aguirre

We loved Zuriñe’s use of colour and we thought her characters were very well drawn. The owl is one of the craziest owls we’ve ever seen! She has a natural sense of composition and overall she has produced a very heart-warming and quirky spread.

And in first place was Ester Garay.


Ester Garay

Esther’s spread ticked so many boxes for us. It’s fun, quirky and original. She has successfully produced a dark and atmospheric spread while still keeping it light and child-friendly. The bear and the children are fantastically drawn and full of character. We think Ester will have a long and successful career ahead of her!

The Plumpudding Prize winners!

The Plumpudding Prize winners!

And with that my fun and artistic weekend came to an end! It was a fantastic experience and I want to thank Mark at Plumpudding and all of the organisers at ilustratour for including me. Until next year?