Also, I wanted to send a big THANK YOU SO MUCH to dear Jane! I was the lucky winner in Jane's giveaway and received a beautiful (stunning) set of earrings she had handmade from alabaster beads she had bought in Volterra, Italy. Please see this post to view her jewelry, and this post about her visit to Italy (Tuscany)..oh how I love Jane's visits abroad as I get to vicariously enjoy them from afar. Thank you, Jane...I am truly enjoying them! Please visit Jane's Journal and view her fabulous card creations, her lovely garden and studio (I'm jealous!) and her great travel posts. She also decorates and bakes amazing cakes, too!
Recently, I went to a wonderful SCBWI event at the Fort Mason in San Francisco - it was an all day, Illustrator's Day and we had a great session listening to Linda Pratt of Wernick and Pratt Agency, Joann Hill, Art Director for Disney/Hyperion Books, and Illustrator/Author, Andrew Glass. We also had a great panel who reviewed our portfolios while we were enjoying the lectures..John Clapp, Assoc. Professor, SJSU; Abigail Samoun, Agent at Red Fox Literary; Dana Goldber; Editor at Children's Book Press; Kristine Brogno, Art Director at Chronicle Books; Renee Ting, Publisher at Shen's Books; and Deborah Norse-Lattimore, Author/Illustrator of 40 books, and teacher too. Some of the highlights for me were meeting up with fellow illustrators I've "met" via Twitter, Facebook and blogs: Juana Martinez-Neal, Tracy Bishop, Laura Zarrin, Joy Steuerwald.
It was fabulous to discuss illustration with these amazing ladies - and to see them in person and enjoy a delicious lunch together was super!!
Now for the lectures...these are quick highlights from some really fantastic lectures, and apologies in advance for errors/simplicity - they are definitely not intended!
Joann Hill: Traditional trade picture books - should have an emotional impact; pay attention to the color palette; people are looking in different places for ideas for picture books (i.e. YouTube's Pete the Cat). As an illustrator you must consider what compels you - add your personal expression to the piece. Who are you? A cat? A dog? What about a story from your childhood..and most importantly, draw what you love to draw! She mentions that it is a good idea to learn how to draw - take classes and life drawing courses. Revise, revise, revise, and draw children! As the illustrator of a picture book you are: A Film Director; A Casting Director; A Lighting Designer; Art Director (pay attention to whitespace); Set Director; Costume Designer; Cinematographer. Page turns are extremely important (and fun!) and can be used very effectively. Nothing should be too generic. NO visual cliches. No giant eyeballs. Don't make a book too "happy", draw the reader in. Her most important advice was to be able to say NO to distractions if illustration as a career is your goal. She ran the NYC marathon and was able to say no, and attained her goal. What a funny, engaging, and heartfelt lecture Joann gave. She was also the AD for a group of illustrators at the conference who were able to send sketches and roughs, and then final illustrations for book spreads for The Gingerbread Man.
Linda Pratt - Her lecture focused on assessing which creative approach you might find yourself in...traditional narrative work, public domain re-tellings, or a concept book. Lily's Purple Plastic Purse is a great example of a traditional narrative which starts with a main character, the character has a problem, there's tension, and then there's resolution. Public domain retellings such as fairy tales and nursery rhymes inately have a positive aspect because they are familiar stories. The challenge for illustrators is to make it fresh. Example: an upcoming book titled, "Maria Had a Little Llama."Concept books: she notes the book, Press Here and taking an ABC book and giving it a twist.
Andrew Glass - the key takeaway from this very talented author/illustrator was when he said that he receives a script in the mail, opens the packet, and leaves it on his desk and gives himself time to come back to the packet to really give it his full attention. The goal: "I want to be enchanted." - and he wanted to get an initial feeling from the story and capture that feeling with notes upon that first focused reading. If we can give the book this undivided attention and shoot for that goal during the whole process (which may take many months in the process), that ultimately will help in the end.
We had our portfolios in a separate room for all to view during the day, and the panel members all got a chance to sticky-note pages that might work for a mailer, and so that is always so very helpful to see at the end of the day. Being able to mingle and learn with peers at such a great event each year inspires me and recharges me in this awesome profession. There is so much to learn and so much to gain as we move into this crazy new world of electronic books and such. I almost missed this event and scrambled the week before the event to come up with an illustration project (optional) to show at the conference day. Here are the three images I showed in my portfolio..it was a blast to work on little Gingerbread boy. : )
Hope you've all been well!! ~ Shirley