As this was my first ever "big" SCBWI conference, and my 2nd time to New York (my last trip was in the very early 90's), I knew I was in for a complete treat and I wanted to soak up every detail and experience to the fullest so I decided to not focus on social media for the weekend. The only "commitment" (which admitedly I did not do very well) was tweet! I must say, I am so glad I tweeted a bit, and posted one Instagram post for if it were not for that, I would not have met some of the most wonderful people!
So here we go! I'm "bulleting" my thoughts to hopefully make things a little easier to find should you wish to check out any of the links I'll be adding (check 'em out if you have a chance) -
• New York - what an incredible setting. The taxi drive into the city was beautiful as the city came upon me. The excitement after a long flight was building. I loved the Grand Hyatt hotel..the room was spacious and contemporary..and you can't beat the location, so wonderful to be connected to the historic Grand Central Terminal! Besides being artic-ly cold (in the single digits!), I thoroughly enjoyed the Big Apple.
- My roommate, Bethanie Murguia, is a fabulous roomie and author/illustrator extraordinaire...check out her new book, Cockatoo, Too!
- Jason Hart has GREAT stories to tell, wears a keen velvet blazer and kindly invited this newbie to attend a pre-conference dinner..thanks Jason for if it were not for you I wouldn't have met the...cool cat, Jennifer Gray Olson of Ninja Bunny fame is hilarious/witty/smart, who along with her talented and fun cohort, Julia Shahin Collard, allowed me to crash a crazy taxi ride. Three! I also had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Joel Grayson, of Books of Wonder about his writing career. Can't wait to read your books, Joel! Jason also pointed me out to the very kind and talented Moira Swiatkowski! Thanks Moira for wonderful discussions and time spent in that crazy portfolio showcase where I also had a ball meeting and speaking with the sweet and talented Meridth Gimbel!
- Julissa Mora the talented leader of my groupblog, welovetoillustrate.com for 6+ years now, was an absolute HIGHLIGHT for me to spend time with. Julissa, you rock. Your friends also rock..so great to meet/get to know Michelle Hazelwood and her friends..thanks ladies for letting me crash your party!
- Melissa Iwai, besides being such a brilliant artist and author, you are one of the most generous and kind people in this community...it was a highlight to meet and spend time with you..thank you is not enough. Check out her new book, Let's Go to the Hardware Store! It's beautiful!
- Roxie Munro, is an incredibly talented author and artist, and with her very kind and talented artist/photographer husband Bo Zaunders extended me a beyond cool experience meeting so many heroes in the industry. I am so grateful!
- There were 1,500+ attendees, and it was a thrill to meet in person so many people I've followed and admired on the net: Debbie Ohi, Don Tate, Arthur Levine, Elizabeth Biknell, Emma Dryden, Harold Underdown, Paul O. Zelinsky, Carolyn Flores, Julie Rowan Zoch, Elizabeth Rose Stanton, Dorothia Radner, Ruth McNally Barshaw, and so many other greats. It was a joy to meet Katie Kath, Stephen Macquignon, Aino Anto, Rudolpho Montalvo, Colleen Muske, Nick Cannon, Joey Ellis, Luke Flowers, Andy Musser, Devon Kondaki, Ionna Hobai, Christy Schneyman, Benjamin Schipper, and so many other fine creatives.
- The Illustrator Intensive on Friday was great!! The keynote was by William Joyce. THE William Joyce of Rolie Polie Olie, Rise of the Guardians, Meet the Robinsons, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, and thensome. He delivered two wonderful keynotes over the weekend and his commitment to story and quality of work as well as his unending will to create the content he wanted to create and deliver it in its fullest was incredibly inspirational. I so thoroughly enjoyed the backstory of his path to publishing, his love of film, his excitement about the prospect of developing a new "something" for the up and coming iPad, the story app that set that vehicle on fire, and his recommendation to "Win an Oscar, it's an incredibly fun experience." His love for new avenues such as Instagram was palpable and his love for story drives him into his future projects. I'm excited to see his next book, Ollie's Odyssey, and further upcoming films. Bravo, Mr. Joyce!
• The conference panel discussions, breakout workshops, and keynotes, kept me writing and writing in my notebook. Great information about the state of the industry, perspectives and advice.
• The Portfolio Showcase was 200+ strong. Some truly wonderful work!
• The wonderful presentations by Sophie Blackall,
and James Ransome,
• Lin Oliver was quite witty and smart and so enjoyable to listen to each day! Her "fireside chat" with the acclaimed author Rainbow Rowell was a highlight and made me want to read, read, read!
• Nancy Siscoe, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, gave a great breakout regarding "Finding Your Unique Voice"
Jon Klassen, Carson Ellis (I won her beautiful book, Home, in a raffle at the Illustrator Intensive...woot!), and the upcoming book, Toby, by the incredibly talented Hazel Mitchell. I can't wait!
winners were announced:
This year's Tomie dePaola Awards were announced:
#1) STORY is king..first and foremost. Paul Zelinsky's quote (you'll find it below) resonated with me, as did Dan Yaccarino's visit to the SF Illustrator day many years ago did as well, which is "why do you want to do this?" "Why is this book relevant?" Paul's quote is that it's not about you (the author/illustrator/publisher), it's about IT (the story). Yes.
#2, the people you "meet" online are indeed REAL! Meeting those who've I've admired and followed and enjoyed on social media for years in REAL LIFE was one of THE BEST things about the conference experience. To turn around and have a discussion, a "hello", a hug, or share a meal with someone you've known only through social media, well all I can say is WOW..it was incredibly rewarding and simply a beautiful thing. Beyond meeting those I've "known", getting to meet others in this industry, writers, illustrators, industry experts, and more, it was an awesome experience and I will forever remember this experience.
I'll leave you with the pre-conference prep work, printed postcards and business cards and pins, and some new pieces from the portfolio. I'm really happy that I was able to create 6 new pieces and share most of them in the book. If anything, I gathered very valuable feedback, some incredibly kind and generous feedback, and the knowledge that I was able to push myself to work towards a final body to represent myself at the event. I didn't give up and learned some wonderful techniques as I created the pieces..that is incredibly valuable on this journey. I'll also leave you with some inspiring quotes from the conference..yet another incredible body of information to reflect upon in the coming year as I continue working on my craft and stories. Hope they help you in your quest to make wonderful books!
Pre-conference prep: A whirlwind of a few weeks, and I have to thank my husband and daughters first and foremost for their patience with me as I was a bit of a mess before the conference trying to prep for the portfolio showcase that I almost didn't participate in. PSprint.com did a great job printing my new business cards and postcards as well.
This past month or so I have been finalizing color illustrations for a second book by Magination Press, and so with not much time left to prep for the conference, I decided to simply to create as many pieces as possible before the trip. This was probably not the best idea as how possibly could that be any good work, right? But, I knew that I wanted to push myself. I sometimes feel that given that hard deadline and the ability to say that the point of the process was for me to create, gave me this extra energy to think, sketch, execute in a manner that I only have done once before and that was before the most recent SCBWI event I attended, the Illustrator Day at the Fort Mason in Sept. 15.
I recently watched a wonderful online video by Lee White, titled Visual Storytelling Techniques from Will Terry's Society of Visual Storytelling's site. It was something I've been needing to help me craft new work with the techniques in mind, and I can't wait to learn and grow in this manner as I continue in illustration. After the tutorial, I thought, "Wow, what if I focus on "storytelling" in my new portfolio of work?" and so I started sketching concepts specifically for my first piece so that I could take it to the printers for new postcards and such.
My work turned to "storytelling" and storytellers and so, with that, here is the final postcard:
I thought that since I was printing purely for the conference takeaways, that I should just use up all of the space, front and back, for illustration..and so I hope that it tells a story..did I succeed?
I also had some business cards printed, and my daughters helped me put together a few buttons to hand out as well....
|This little piggy is writing...and rewriting...|
|This is not quite the story-teller image, but more of a continuation of a real story I have been tinkering with...|
|Little Hopkins the fox is reading about his famous relative..another story I've been tinkering with.|
|So long from Grand Central Terminal!|
Some notable quotes:
"Go out and hustle a bit..you are the driver of your career!" - William Joyce
"Getting a good review in the NY Times doesn't make a big difference." - William Joyce
"Winnie the Pooh, by E.H. Shepard - the illustrations drew me in and I loved that book." - Sophie Blackall
"Keep busy." (referring to the time between working on books, and in this reference was to her blog illustrations for Missed Connections, which then led to the book itself) - Sophie Blackall
"Be connected to the community such as visiting sites like: The Niblings, A Fuse #8 Production, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, 100 Scope Notes, All the Wonders, Nerdy Book Club, and Design of the Picture Book." - Sophie Blackall
"Take risks, take leaps, people will begin to trust you, be nice to everybody." - Sophie Blackall
"To improve your writing, find other writers (authors) whom you love, and read." - Sophie Blackall
"Put your colors on your palette in the same place all of the time (meaning, don't switch places), as that way you don't have to find them (making it easier and more of an innate motion to paint)." - James Ransome
"Flex your muscles by illustrating scenes with lots of buildings or crowds. Give more and put as much effort as possible into each and every piece of work you do." - James Ransome
"I was the strange guy who sat in the kid's section of the bookstore and read children's books." - Mike Curato
"To journeys!" - Mike Curato
"Don't be afraid to break the rules" - Paula Wiseman
"Persistance and adaptability."- Holly McGhee
"Be that person who sits in the kid's section of the bookstore and read children's books." - Paula Wiseman
"Harry Bliss wanted to move his work to children's books and went to the library every night and studied five picture books..he did this tirelessly." - Holly McGhee
"It's not about you (the illustrator or author), it's not about them (publishers/editors/ADs), it's about it (the book/story)." - Paul O. Zelinsky
"Let your hand be the work." - Holly McGhee
"Don't think about the next book deal (focus on the book at hand)." - Paul O. Zelinsky
On advice to those embarking on a career in illustration:
"Rule out the possibility of doing anything else." - Holly McGhee
"Rule out the possibility of doing anything else." - Holly McGhee
"Don't quit your day job before you've moved into the field with steady bookwork." - Paul O. Zelinsky
"Get to know the history of children's picture books and illustrators." - Paul O. Zelinsky
"Crippling self-doubt..it's common and reassuring that it's part of the process for everybody." - Peter Brown
On age in the industry: "It doesn't matter at all. Beverly Cleary is going to be 100 on 4/9/16."- Laurent Linn and Paul Zelinsky
"Every single one of you brings something to the table no one else does." - Cecilia Yung
"It's the best time to be in children's books." - Jean Feiwel
"Write for that audience. If you're writing for a 6-year old, know a 6-year old..talk with a 6-year old..get to know that audience and write what you believe in." - M. Loehr
Well, it's crazy late...I took a bit of a break to catch up with my girls and take them to see Kung Fu Panda 3..(I highly recommend it!) so until next time! Thank you SO much for surviving this long read. I hope you all are doing well and have enjoyed a bit of this post!
I had an extremely rewarding time in New York. Thank you SCBWI and my family for putting up with me! ~ Shirley