Los Angeles Region

Mentorship Contest 2024: Illustrators or Author/Illustrators


Six-month mentorship with author-illustrator Jaime Zollars. The mentorship will include six months of interaction and critiques, via Zoom, phone, or email (with the possibility of meeting in-person if the selected mentee is particularly local). Jaime will also be available in-between meetings to answer questions via e-mail or text.


The contest is open to illustrators and author/illustrators in the earlier stage of their career. Jaime is looking for “someone who is ready to work hard to make a real impact on their trajectory.” The mentorship will be tailored to the mentee’s needs, but Jaime is prepared to work on developing stronger illustration techniques, concepts, stories (if applicable), and business practices.

“While I would not limit the number of projects, it might be more valuable to work on a single story or a portfolio series (or a bit of both) as I would emphasize quality over quantity and getting a story ready to pitch—or getting a portfolio ready to submit to agents.”

—Jaime Zollars


1. You must be a member in good standing of the SCBWI-L.A. or Cen Cal region.

2. Associate or Full members may apply.

3. Limited to one entry per person.

*SCBWI membership levels: PAL (published and listed), Full (published unlisted), Associate (unpublished)


1. DO NOT contact the mentor directly.

2. Applicants not in compliance with the rules or that do not adhere to the application instructions will be disqualified.

3. To ensure fairness to all, no questions will be answered.


Your submission will consist of two parts:

I. Written responses to the following three questions:

1) What is your primary goal for this mentorship? Why do you think this goal is yet to be met? Why do you think now is a good time to actively pursue this goal for yourself? How much weekly time do you realistically have to devote to your current project or goal? 

2) Submit a short bio that gives me some background about your journey thus far. This can be informal and directed to me, or it can simply be a bio you already have written up. I am interested in how long you have been a member, how long you have been interested in the publishing industry, if you have attended any SCBWI conferences or events, if you have tried any self-promotion, and if you have made any headway thus far with art directors or editors or agents, or if you are simply brand new and taking it all in. There are no wrong answers! I’d also be interested in anything you want me to know; this is simply a chance to tell me about yourself. 

3) What illustrators or authors (or books) excite you the most? Choices can be old or new or both. Is there a book out there that you WISH you had made? Why does that book speak to you so much?

II. Your Work

Please submit a portfolio of 10 images OR a picture book proposal with a series of portfolio images for context. (A .pdf containing all information is ideal. If this presents a problem, I am open to individual small .jpg files.)

Option A: A portfolio should include the applicant’s perceived strongest work, whether that is final art, drawings or sketches. It should indicate the direction the applicant wants to go with future work.

Option B: A picture book proposal can be a full dummy (it doesn’t have to feel finished) alongside one finished image from the book dummy – OR an image that inspired the book proposal — and a few portfolio pieces that reflect the medium in which the applicant imagines they would complete the book.

Option C: If an applicant has a picture book idea, but not a full dummy or text, I’d encourage submitting a document with the following information alongside a series of no more than 10 portfolio pieces for context: 

  • A tentative title
  • A paragraph explaining the story
  • A few words about how the artist sees the interplay of image and text in the story. Will the images be intricate and the text be sparse? Will the text or image offer something that the other does not? This is a chance to explain how the book will work.
  • What is the book’s main takeaway (if applicable)? WHY do you want to make this book? Why do you believe it should exist? This is not to say that it has to be particularly serious or weighty. Perhaps you believe there are not enough funny books out there and you want to create something that will bring joy and laughter. Honesty is everything here and you need not be too formal.


1. Your submission must be emailed with the subject line MENTOR CONTEST to:

2. In the body of your email include:

– Your current SCBWI member name

– Address

– Phone numbers

– Email address

3. Provide your written answers to the questions in Roman numeral I (above) as a PDF or Word attachment. Name your file: LAST NAME_ANSWERS. Example: Smith_Answers.pdf

4. Provide samples of your work as described in Roman numeral II (above) as a PDF attachment (preferred) or series of small jpegs. Example: LAST NAME_MANUSCRIPT. Example: Smith_Portfolio.pdf

5. Entries must be received by 11:59pm on 3/10/24.

About Jaime Zollars

Jaime has illustrated children’s books, magazines, newspapers, and ad campaigns. Her clients include all five big publishers and several small ones, United Airlines, The American Red Cross, and L.A. Weekly. She has also created artwork for galleries including Copro Nason, Gallery Nucleus, and Giant Robot. Jaime’s art has also been recognized by a bunch of esteemed publications and societies, including Taschen’s Illustration Now, American Illustration, Communication Arts, The Society of Illustrators, 3x3, Spectrum, Curvy Australia, Design Taxi, XFuns Taipei, DPI Taiwan, BBC’s Culture Shock, Small Magazine, Creative Quarterly, the SI-LA, and the SCBWI. 

Jaime currently lives and works in Newbury Park, California with her dashing husband, sarcastic 15-year-old boy, and sunny 10-year-old girl. While in Baltimore, Jaime was lucky enough to teach up-and-coming art superstars in both the MFA and undergraduate illustration programs at MICA (The Maryland Institute College of Art). Jaime has also served on several boards, including the Los Angeles SCBWI, the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles, and The Illustration Conference (ICON), and is currently SCBWI Central Coast Illustration Coordinator.

Jaime is inspired by fairy tales and Flemish painters, non-fiction books, forgotten paper, found textures, and flea market photographs. When she isn’t painting for commercial clients or gallery walls, you’ll probably find her eating eclairs, taking an improv class, reading up on North Korea, making mechanical paper toys, eating more eclairs, or driving her children to and from all of those activities she said she’d never drive her kids to and from.