Hélène Magisson

Date of Success:



In March 2015, my first picture book 'The Velveteen Rabbit' by Margery Williams Bianco was released thanks to my experience at the CYA conference.


Before that, I was a painting restorer and when I moved from France to settle to Australia, I thought that it was the perfect time for me to realise my dream: illustrating picture books.


So for a few months, I worked every day to complete my portfolio and then, timidly, attended the CYA conference.

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When I arrived at the CYA conference early in the morning, with my portfolio, I first wanted to have a look at the artwork wall. I found all the illustrations beautiful, interesting and so different. I was so far to imagine that I would win the first prize in this category.


I met so many energetic people at the conference that I keep a wonderful souvenir of.


The workshops I attended were so inspiring, and I am also grateful to the judges who gave me some precious advice about my work and whose feedback was really supportive.


But the most exciting moment was the pitch I had with Sophia Whitfield from New Frontier... Two days later, she did propose me to illustrate 'The Velveteen Rabbit'.


I could not imagine a better start in my illustration journey.


And 4 years later...


Here I am, working on my 8th book for Wombat Books.


In between, I have illustrated several other books for New Frontier and for Wombat Books including 'The Whirlpool' (by Emily Larkin, another CYA success story) but there is one particular project and very special to me that I want to talk about here.


When I first attended the CYA competition in 2013, I was completely new in the field. We had to submit 3 illustrations for a story written by T.M.Clark's 'Slowly, Slowly, Catch a Monkey'. A lovely story set up in Africa. I felt a very special connection to it as I was born in Africa and had been living there for 10 years. Having some wonderful souvenirs of this country, I felt so much inspired to complete my 3 illustrations for the competition. And at the end of 2016, Rochelle Manners from Wombat Books, with whom I had a pitch at the CYA too, proposed me to illustrate the full story. It has been renamed 'Slowly, Slowly' and together with Tina we will celebrate its release on 1st November 2017.


So once again, thank you so much to the CYA team, Tina, Ally and Sam for this fantastic experience. It opened to me the doors of this amazing industry and it seems that my journey with the CYA conference continues to surprise me.

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