Showing posts with label illustrator's day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label illustrator's day. Show all posts

Thursday, November 21, 2013

On the Importance of Attending SCBWI Events

Becoming a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators might be the second most important thing I've done for my illustration career besides getting an art degree.  Last week I attended SCBWI Los Angeles’ Art Director’s Day (scroll down the linked page to see the details).  It was probably the sixth or so Illustrator’s Day I’ve attended. Yep, that’s a lot of events, but I can’t stress how important it is to try and attend local SCBWI events at least once a year if you can.

No matter which level you are in your illustration career, these local events are helpful, fun and so informative that they really shouldn’t be passed up if at all possible.

Last week, for example, I had the good fortune of being able to listen and speak to well-respected art director Lauren Rille of Simon and Schuster, Isabel Warren-Lynch of Random House, Kelly Sonnack of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency and Cliff Cramp, an awesome illustrator and instructor at California State University Fullerton.

They all shared really, really tangible information that is relevant to attendees at any level of their career. Lauren Rille, for example gave a very detailed presentation on the working relationship between the art director, the illustrator, and the editors. Isabel Warren-Lynch discussed the emotional connection between the art and the reader and Cliff Cramp gave a very inspirational talk on how the fundamental role of an illustrator is to tell stories. And Kelly Sonnack really broke a barrier and gave some straight-talk on the topic of money and the illustrator.

Here is a really bad (dark and far-away) picture of agent Kelly Sonnack showing an example of a great illustration website. Whattya know?! It's a page from our very own Renee Kurilla's website!


Not only do attendees get to hear invaluable information from the esteemed speakers, but they also get the chance to display their work for all to see. Yes, that sounds like a daunting task to some, but getting your work out into the world and in front of the right eyes is a necessary part of being an illustrator. Be brave! Having your work up there with everyone else’s gives you a chance to see how you can improve your craft and get ideas for portfolio presentation.

Yes, the informative aspects of an event take up most of the day, but the other HUGE plus is getting to connect with other illustrators. Sometimes (or most of the time), illustration is such a solitary activity and getting to hang out with other illustrators is so important! I’ve made so many friends over the years and we’re all at various stages of our career at this point. It’s great to be able to learn from my friends and share stories as well as help others out! I spent so much time chatting with friends such as Eliza Wheeler, Kimberly Gee, Ken Min, Mary Peterson and many others! It’s also super cool to meet online friends for the first time in 3-D. Hi Bob McMahon

So here's a few pointers to consider when planning to attend a local event:
  • Research all of the speakers in attendance
  • Be brave and show your work and enter any contests that might be held. These are the places where you can put a face to a name and the presenters can too. I met Lauren Rille at this year's big SCBWI summer conference and she remembered me this time around. It's so important to build and maintain relationships
  • Be brave and connect with as many fellow attendees as possible (this is the hardest for me, by far! I'm pretty shy)
  • Take photos so you can have them when you blog about your experience (I really need to work on this too...haha!)
  • Take copious notes. I have a journal that contains notes of the past three SCBWI events I've attended. They are great to refer back to
  • Try and introduce yourself to at least one presenter
  • Send a courteous thank you note to any presenter you thought made an impact on your experience
  •  Here is a calendar of all the local and regional events you can try to attend in your area

By the end of the event, exhaustion has usually set in, but it’s such a great type of exhaustion! A long day of learning, sharing and hanging out with friends will get you tired, but it’s so worth it in the long run! Leaving for the drive home with a mind and soul full of inspiration is worth so much more than the price of admission!!!

Just do it!

What are your tips or things you try to accomplish when attending local illustration events?


Friday, October 4, 2013

San Francisco Illustrator's Day 2013

Tracy's Report

Cool venue for the day, just steps from the bay.
Last weekend Laura ZarrinJoy Steuerwald, and I made our annual trek to San Francisco to attend SCBWI SF South’s Illustrators’ Day. This year’s main speaker was the fabulous Melissa Sweet.

Melissa Sweet was the first person we saw as we all signed in for the day. I’m afraid to say that all of us lost all sense of dignity and squealed as we introduced ourselves to her. (Joy Stewy even exclaimed, “You’re so TINY!”)




Our view during breaks.

All of the presentations focused on the theme of how creating a picture book is the result of teamwork between everyone involved. It’s so easy to forget this simple fact when we’re all so focused on our slice of the work (in my case, illustration). I loved the format of having Melissa Sweet presenting with the art director and editor of two of her books. You can see how an exceptional picture book was created because everyone trusted each other’s expertise.

Another part of Illustrators’ Day that is always fantastic is to connect with other local illustrators that I don’t get to see regularly. I loved seeing old friends (Hi! Brian Bowes and Shirley Ng-Benitez!) and making new ones (Nidhi Chanani, Susan Rankin-Pollard, Alina Chau, and Alison Farrell).


As much as I love the conference itself, my favorite part of the day is always the drive home with Joy and Laura. Every single year we’ve always hit awful traffic while trying to get out of San Francisco to head south but we don’t mind. We all talk about what went on during the day and share what we learned and what we need to do next. I always come away so inspired to take on new challenges.



Laura's Report


Kristine Brogno, Design Director at Chronicle




Melissa Manlove, editor at Chronicle talking about the making of Little Red Writing by Joan Holub & Melissa Sweet.

Melissa Sweet reading a note from Melissa regarding a spread in Little Red.

My favorite part was meeting Melissa Sweet. She's always been a favorite of mine. I seem to have a section of my personal library dedicated to her books. (Shhh…don't tell my husband!) She spoke about her Sweet Squares project which she started as a way to observe nature. There were a lot of ooo's and aaaah's when she showed her gardens and studio. John Clapp, Associate professor at San Jose State, spoke about our work needing 'obsessiveness' like Melissa's has.

Isabel Warren-Lynch spoke about emotional connections in illustrations. Tracy and I were both lucky enough to have a portfolio review with her. She gave us both lots of ideas for improving our work.

I especially enjoyed getting to talk children's books with Kristine Brogno and Melissa Manlove. Their passion and dedication is contagious. I also enjoyed Melissa Greenberg's presentation with Isabel and Melissa Sweet. It was a day of Melissa's. I learned so much and left inspired.