A few weeks ago I attended the Indiana SCBWI Conference. I was especially excited about this conference because of the Illustrator's Intensive with Clarion Books Senior Designer, Kerry Martin, where we had an assignment to complete before the conference. We were to complete 2-3 page spreads from Goldilocks & the 3 Bears. Text was only laid in for placement as we were told to concentrate on the illustrations.
Something clicked with me during this assignment. I feel like information from past conferences, picture book illustration books, helpful blogposts, etc. all started to make a bit more sense, and it was so fun to attempt to put it into practice. I've illustrated tons of Illustration Friday words, but to tackle an actual story was exactly what I needed to work on in order to focus on the storytelling. I enjoyed taking this story into my own world with the Goldilocks piggie, and somehow she ended up with a sidekick in my sketches. I had fun with the little details in Baby Bear's room, and I enjoyed pushing the expressions in the porridge scenes.
The night before the conference there was an Open Mic night where writers read a few minutes from their manuscript and received short, anonymous, written comments from the audience. Also, illustrators were allowed to display their portfolios for anonymous, written comments. It's helpful to read an envelope full of portfolio comments to see what pieces stood out, and which may not be working.
Saturday's sessions and breakouts were excellent! Rebecca Kai Dotlich inspired us with how she became a full-time Poet and Children's Author, and emphasized how there are no excuses to not going after your dreams. She had many obstacles, and not the most ideal writing space, but she persevered.
If you ever have a chance to hear Lisa Yoskowitz and Mary Kole speak at a conference you must attend! Their energy filled the room! They both were very clear on what works and what doesn't during the First Looks session. The competition is intense out there, so bring your A game and be professional.
Many thanks to our excellent faculty for this conference.
Lisa Yoskowitz, Editor, Disney-Hyperion Books for Children
Mary Kole, Agent, Andrea Brown Literary Agency
Kerry Martin, Senior Designer, Clarion Books
Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Poet and Children’s Author
This was Kristi Valiant's first year organizing the conference and she did an absolutely amazing job! She put extra care into all the details, with our personalized schedules, yummy buffets, and a great overall event line-up. I can't wait until we get to meet up again in LA in just a couple months. Man, this year is really going fast!