Monday, August 09, 2010

2010 SCBWI LA Conference - day 2

Driving in for day 2
 The bumpy terrain is a refreshing sight for this midwestern girl who  usually only sees boring flatness. Conference day 2 was like the 'Empire Strikes Back' of this series. Lots of fun adventure and unexpected surprises. 

Our 1st Keynote Speaker was Gordon Korman, a writer who Lin says kids really love. He says he looks at 8th graders as New Yorkers. They see everything on a scale of abysmally horrible to not bad. He points out that the dog dies a lot in kid's fiction, and a kid knows that if a cover has an award sticker and a pic of a dog, then that dog is going down.

Gordon speaks of the need for stick-to-it-ness as the attitude needed for kid's book success.

Literary Agents View of the Market Place
Ginger Clark, Ken Wright, Josh Adams, Lisa Grubka
This panel starts out by saying we are in a time of change, but they are indeed looking for books that are timeless and will stand the test of time. Part of an agent's job is to fight for the author/illustrator's audio, multimedia, and even theme park rights. They say we are entering an era where soon you will be able to choose what platform you want to view the material....DVD, theater, book, audiobook will all be released at the same time. (Funny, I was just wishing for something like that.) Josh says, 'Agents are not interior designers, but they will help you stage it.' He says they are also sometimes your shrink, at which Ginger promptly points out that she is NOT your therapist, best friend, or mother. She is your man on the ground - all business. Josh says it's part of his job to help you build up your confidence. It's obvious that you need to be aware of what type of agent you are looking for to fit your work personality.

Kelly Light and Kim Fleming
It was on this day that we met the fabulous Kelly Light! I was so glad Linda spotted her in our row in the ballroom. She is just as lovely and funny in person as you would expect. Her Ripple project has now raised over $9700 to help animal victims of the Gulf Oil Spill. There are still $10 custom art cards to buy so head on over to make your donation! Then on our way to the next workshop Kelly introduced us to Kim Fleming, whose name I immediately recognized as aka lil Kim! I've been following her blog for years. She is just the sweetest, and it was a special treat to meet her here all the way from Australia! I have to thank Illustration Friday for bringing us all together.

Cecilia Yung and Pat Cummings
Illustrator Tips: On Portfolios and Promotion
I had leave early from this workshop to go to my portfolio consultation, so for more coverage on this please refer to the SCBWI Team Blog where you will also find tons of info from all the workshops. Cecilia says she needs to see narrative in your work. She doesn't want to see ABC books unless you wow her with some idea she never would have thought of. For her, she just needs to know she can get one good book out of you, so only show her one style. She wants to see consistency because she's taking a leap of faith when she signs you. Cecilia says your portfolio is only as good as your worst piece. She actually makes a copy of your worst piece for her file to remind herself that if she can live with that it's going to be ok. Illustrate not just a word, but a complete sentence or a complete paragraph.

the next Keynote was with Marion Dane Bauer. She tells us to relax and let the information flow through you at this conference. The stuff you're ready for will stick, and the rest will fall away whether you take notes or not. I find this to be so true as things I heard at the NY conference are just now starting to sink in and take hold. When she begins Marion says she knows what her resolution will feel like even if she doesn't know how to get there. She says a story begins with a struggle. No struggle- no story. She started to realize that her stories had a pattern, but she doesn't think about that. She feels her way through. She says we must discover our own personal truth.

E. B. Lewis Keynote
Pursue Your Passions
The suave and debonair E.B. Lewis calls himself an Artistrator, and through his talk we see this is the most appropriate term.  He says as artists we lose track of time due to endless hours in the studio. We lose relationships. He said he lost his relationship with summer. Wow, I can relate to that this summer! He said there was a 2 1/2 year span where he had no inspiration. E. B. says an illustrator creates a visual representation of the written word where a fine artist creates an image of a whole problem or concept. He created 4 books his first year. When E.B. was working as a fine artist someone had sent his slides to 9 publishers and 6 immediately wanted him for projects. All 9 ended up giving him work.
He addresses the topic of finding models for his work, and how difficult they can be to find. He once went into an Ethiopian restaurant and said he was looking for a 7 year old boy. They replied, "We don't serve them here." He showed us this photo of his flying girl reference model. E.B. says he always puts a hugging scene in his books since it's not PC to hug kids in school anymore. He then shared his recent fine art works where he has painted on top of lottery tickets that have never been scratched off.

Something happens at these conferences. You end up falling in love with all the speakers and their works. So much amazing talent, such as...

Loren Long
The Illustrator Who Wants to Write
It was then back to the Westside Room for a workshop on one of the main topics I came to this conference for. Loren Long says 'Drummer Boy' was the first book he wrote. As you can see there is no other pesky name on the cover he points out. He realized he had a voice to write, but he started as an illustrator with no thought of becoming a writer. He says it's customary in publishing to team a new illustrator with an established writer or vise versa. Loren says to begin by jotting down ideas and read a lot. He says you need a strong character, something happens, a problem, a solution, maybe a message. He talks about the rhythm of the words that carry the story. When he's creating a new story the whole time he's communicating with the editor. Sometimes he writes keeping in mind the paintings he wants to do, other times, as with Otis the project is story driven. Loren recommends getting an agent. He says your 1st victory is getting your 1st rejection. Loren points out that even though our name may be second on the cover the publisher values the artist greatly. Often it's the art that makes the picture book.

Our next Keynote is with Gail Carson Levine. For this, I have pages and pages of notes on creating plot and suspense. I'm going to be lazy one this one and suggest you go to Team Blog as their post covers everything I have written.

We then attended the Illustrator's Portfolio Showcase, where we were able to view all the portfolios on view, and the winners were announced. The Grand Prize Winner was Molly Idle. The Honor Award recipients were Ye Won Lee and Debbie Ridpath Ohi. The Mentorship Awards were also announced. This year's Mentees are: Ashley Mims  John Deininger  Andrea Offermann  Debbie Ridpath Ohi  Eliza Wheeler  Kimberly Gee 
We were able to take a look at all the winners portfolios and they were spectacular! The bar is set very high here. I've included links so you can check out all their websites.

Dan Santat and me
 Heart and Soul Celebration!
 It was then time for the Heart and Soul Gala! As you can see I totally geeked out at being able to meet one of my favorite illustrators Dan Santat! One day I hope to become a tough warrior illustrator like Dan, who is awesome beyond words. My writer friend Sara Wilson Etienne was kind enough to introduce me. I'm also thrilled to announce that Sara just sold her first novel, The Harbinger, in a 2 book deal with Putnam! Big congrats to Sara! At the Gala there were costumes and dancing, and I was very pleased to see that there was at least one Queen of Hearts!

me, Loren Long, Linda Silvestri
After they turned the lights out on the outdoor Gala, Kim, Linda, and I were chilling in the lobby when we happened to see Loren Long who was kind enough to stop and chat with us about school visits and why creating a picture book is one of the biggest thrills for an artist. He really is the kindest writer/illustrator there ever was. And as it turns out he lives in Cincinnati, just a stones throw from Columbus, which would explain that down to earth honest vibe. :) This was just an incredible way to end the day. And we're only halfway through the conference!


Caz Williams said...

It's lovely to read your notes and see your pics. You have done an outstanding job! Straight to the top of the SCBWI class for you :)

Angela Matteson said...

Thanks Caz! hee hee, trying to keep up with my homework here. It was so nice meeting you. :)

Kristi Valiant said...

Sounds fabulous! Thanks for sharing your notes. I plan on going next year. Are you thinking about going back?

lil kim said...

HEy you're quick! Great wrap ups Angela, and pics too (except can you make the ones of me smaller? ha ha just kidding) love the one of you and Linda and Loren -- you look so excited!

Angela Matteson said...

Kristi, I was thinking that I wouldn't do another big conference again so soon, but after I got back I started to think, how could I not? There's a whole bunch of our fellow illustrators interested in LA2011. I'll add you to the list, and hopefully we can all meet up!

Kim, you're so cute and photogenic in all the photos! And you betcha I was excited. That was a great night!