Saturday, August 09, 2008

SCBWI Summer Conference...Short Review

I know this is coming late, but just about two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the big SCBWI Summer Conference here in Los Angeles for the second time.  It was all at once extremely energizing and extremely exhausting (in a good way).  

This was my second time attending full-time.  Last year, I attended full-time as well and though I came away with a ton of information, I felt as though I hadn't made the most of the weekend.   So this year, I decided I was going to be more proactive.  I promised myself that I would make more of an effort to mingle, meet new people and hand out lots of business cards--quite the task for someone who is usually on the "quiet" end of the spectrum.  I actually ended up accomplishing all those things and ended up making a bunch of new friends.  I also met and exchanged business cards with a few "giants" in the children's book world: award-winning writers, illustrators, agents, editors and art directors.  It was a blast. 

I also decided that I need to broaden my horizons and learn more about the ins-and-outs of the industry, so I attended some workshops held by agents, editors and art directors. I'm realizing now that I really need to read those Publisher Weekly's and Horn Books on a regular basis to become more aware of the going's on in the Children's Book World.

Of course, I did attend some workshops geared only toward illustration...I just had to see what one of my all-time favorite illustrators Mark Teague had to offer up.  He was so generous in sharing his tricks of the trade and answering tons of questions.  Among others, I also went to John Rocco's workshop on self-promotion and Yuyi Morales' presentation Magic Tricks and Secret Potions: An Illustrator's Palette of Techniques--both so inspiring!  I left feeling ready to paint and get my name out there even more!

The single biggest thing I took away from the weekend though, was a common thread I picked up at almost every workshop, presentation and keynote speech: create from your heart.  I know that may sound corny and trite--even obvious.  But in retrospect, I don't feel I've painted for myself or trusted my artistic instincts for a long time...and to me, it shows in my work.  I'm excited to begin painting again with a new sense of freedom and fun.

So, I met the goals I set for myself at this year's conference.  So, what are some goals I'm setting for next year's conference (and the 12 months in between)?  

1. PAINT, DRAW, PAINT, DRAW!  I want to have a whole new portfolio by next year...
2.  As my knowledgeable, encouraging friend (and awesome artist) Mac McCool tells me: keep on the radar of the industry people I met this year.  Send postcards regularly...
3.  Read more books (children's books, y.a. novels, etc.).  There are so many great y.a. books out there I want to read...
4. Read more industry magazines (Publisher's Weekly, Horn Book, etc.)...
5.  Keep in touch with my new art buddies!
6. Oh yeah, and next year: take pictures of all the cool people I meet and the fun events that go on!

There were so many other great things that happened: a cool illustrator's social, a big gala on Saturday night, a portfolio contest (go Patricia!), great keynotes and just an all around fun environment with fun people!  

But, alas!  There's no more time for blogging, I've got to get to painting!


Cara Nilsen said...

It's great to read your comments from the SCBWI conference. You sound like you've got some great momentum going. I'm also creating a new body of work this year so I hope we can keep each other accountable!
I look forward to seeing you at the illustrators mtg. on Saturday and hearing more about everybody's experience who was at the conference.

tlc illustration said...

Sounds like the conference was a great experience. I love how one can get totally recharged and have new vision and goals to hold over for quite awhile afterwards.

It *is* harder with young children, but not impossible. It's hardest figuring out how to strike the balance between doing enough work to feel like you've kept your toe in the industry while still getting in enough quality Mom time to feel good about that as well. I tended to err on the Mom side - which I don't regret at all.