Wednesday, February 17, 2016

NY 2016 SCBWI Winter Conference

Hello! It's taken me a few days to recuperate after my weekend at the SCBWI Winter Conference. I signed up knowing I'd be 8 months pregnant at the time of the conference, however, unfortunately I was surprised with an additional challenge of a cold that came on the Thursday before the conference. Despite, the many trips to the bathroom, getting up to stretch my legs, hydrating, eating, etc., it was still well worth it! I walked away feeling inspired to get back to my desk and apply all of the knowledge I gained. Thank you SCBWI for hosting such an amazing event. Oh, and by the way, the morning bagels were EXTREMELY appreciated by this pregnant mama! ;)

First and foremost, the highlight of my weekend was finally getting to meet and spend time with the lovely, Shirley Ng-Benitez, from my illustration group WLTI. We started this group back in 2010, so it was such a treat to meet her after so many years of posting and emailing back and forth.

Another high point of the weekend was getting to spend time with my college roomie, Michelle Hazelwood-Hyde, who I love to pieces. It's been about 3 years or so since we last hung out, but we're always able to pick right back up where we left off. I also enjoyed seeing the talented Katie Kath, whom I originally met at the Highlights Foundation Workshop, as well as many other local illustrators. And, finally meeting Sarah Baker, Director of Illustration and Artist Programs at SCBWI, whom I've corresponded with many times was a treat - She's even cooler in person!

Me and the Girls

DAY 1: Friday Illustrators' Intensive was my favorite day by far. Getting to hear from the keynote speakers about their journey was extremely inspiring. Here's a list of the speakers with some selected notes that I felt were key points.

William Joyce 
• Share with people what inspires you and what leads you to projects
• It's the story behind the story that people want to hear
• Study other artists' work - color, line, composition, how the work leads people's eye, the mood you want to get across.

Sophia Blackall
• Keep things interesting - collect what you like
• Etsy is a great place to share work and get discovered by publishers
• Take risks, leaps, find community
• Give it all NOW, don't keep to yourself what you've learned
• Read more books to improve writing & simplifying

Recommended Blogs:
The Niblings
A Fuse #8 Production
Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
100 Scope Notes
All The Wonders
Nerdy Book Club
Design of The Picture Book

The last two speakers, James Ransome & Mike Curato were so inspiring that my attention was mostly focussed on them rather then taking notes. :)

Mike Curato's talk

There was also a panel discussion towards the end of the day with agents, editors and art directors discussing ways to shape and manage an illustrator's career. The following are a few notes:

• Being comfortable with your art is a key quality to break into the industry
• It's not about them, it's not about you, it's about the art
• Leave some things blank so readers can add their own thing to it
• Don't take shortcuts
• Build relationships
• Always care and love your work. Do your best!
• Get out of your comfort zone. Try new color palettes, etc.

DAY 2: My two breakout sessions on Saturday were also very informative and full of great advice. The first one that I went to was called ALL ABOUT PICTURE BOOK ART with Patrick Collins, Creative Director at Henry Holt Books for Readers. He spoke about the important aspects of successful picture book illustrations. He broke it up into these categories: Character, Setting, Action, Color, Simplicity, Humor and Variety. Some of the books that he highlighted to illustrate well use of these categories are Bunny Dreams, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, and Wild Feelings, Maggie and Micheal Get Dressed

The second breakout session was with Elizabeth Bicknell, Executive Editorial Director & Associate Publisher at Candlewick Press about WRITING PICTURE BOOK TEXT.  She spoke about what kind of books Candlewick specializes in and shared the many books she's been involved with. She shared lots of great tips, too many to list, but here are two that stook out to me: 1. The importance of the first line - it should teach the reader everything about the book. 2. Don't make the story about too many things. Choose one topic and keep it a linear story.

DAY 3: The Awards Presentation: They presented the Tomie dePaola Award, Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grant, Portfolio Showcase Awards, and Student Illustrator and Writer Scholarship. Congrats to all of the winners! I was exhausted by day 3, so regretfully I had to leave early. All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. I walked away feeling motivated and inspired.

Promo postcard

Selected pages from my portfolio

 Sincerely, J

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