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575 Madison Avenue
New York, NY, 10022
United States


Our motto at Clavis Publishing is "we make children's dreams come true!". We believe that our books stimulate the imagination and dreams of the future generations. If children can realize their dreams, they will build a better world and a better future. We're convinced that the world of tomorrow will resemble the dreams of today's children.

Key Colors


About the Key Colors Award

Clavis Publishing, New York launches Key Colors, the two-yearly national contest for illustrators of children’s books. Only a children’s book, intended for children from 2 to 7 years old, can qualify for the award. A professional jury will judge the artistic, literary and child-oriented qualities of the works.

The winner receives 8,000 dollars and the winning work will be published by Clavis Publishing.

From all entries, a selection will be made for a children’s books exhibition in New York. At the exhibition children will award their favorite illustration with the Children’s Award. 

Apart from the winner, other entries may also be considered for publication by Clavis. The award and the resulting picture books will be largely discussed in the press and at book fairs abroad. For many illustrators this unique award is the start of a successful international career.


Rules for participation

Here you can find the rules for participation. For more information about how to send in your work, Right click - download as to save the rules for participation on your device.




Is it allowed to participate as a team?
Yes, it is. Illustrators can work together with authors.

How many pages does the story need to have?  
The story must be told and illustrated in exactly 24 pages, or 12 double pages (spreads). This does not include the cover, the end leaves nor the title page.

Do I need to make a cover?
No, you don’t need to work out a cover.

What’s a dummy?
A dummy is a model of the book, a digital sketchbook. It contains all the pictures in pencil lines, which will be worked out later on.

Which technique do I use best?
You are free to choose the technique you want.

Do I have to work out everything in color?
No, only 3 pages need to be completed in color. You can finish all the pictures in color, but that’s not necessary. 3 completed pictures are sufficient for the jury.

What size do the pictures need to have?
The full-size originals cannot be bigger than 35 cm x 25.

I make digital illustrations. How do I hand them in?
You should print the illustrations in color and send the copies. We don’t accept cd-roms or usb flash drives.

How many times can I participate in the competition?
You can participate as much as you want. There’s no limit.

Do I need to have experience in order to participate in the competition?
No, the competition is open to everyone, regardless of experience. The work you hand in must be completely original, though, and cannot already be made public.

Is there a longlist and a shortlist?
The jury selects a shortlist of 10 candidates. One of them will be the winner. This competition selects only one winner. The work of the candidates will be exhibited in New York. The shortlist will be announced on our website and in the media.

When do I know who has won?
The winner will be announced in New York at the awards ceremony, to which all candidates are invited. The winner will be announced in the media and the complete jury report will be available on this website. The latest report can be found here.

How do I know my work is selected for the exhibition?
The selected illustrators will be informed personally. They definitely include both the winner and the other candidates.

Who will take part in the exhibition?
The jury selects the best works, which will be exhibited in New York and might travel to other places. The number of exhibited illustrations may vary.