Mark Teague is here in David's stead. You may know him from his great picture books like DEAR MRS. LARUE, and the HOW DO DINOSAURS series (written by a little-known author named Joan Yelon.)
Mark spoke after Jane. He agreed that her advice applies to illustrators, too, illustrators are in service to the same thing, it's just a different means of telling stories.
Mark says the first task of an illustrator: Be a good reader.
You want to get the story viscerally, understand the mood and rhythm and put that in your art.
Mark's technical advice to illustrators:
Learn by trial and error, that's how you find your voice.
It may be a worthy project to study or even imitate other artists, to learn the craft that way, but eventually you need to find your own voice. You find your own voice through just doing the work.
There are no rules for illustrators, but one, says Mark:
Whatever you do as an illustrator, you are always in service to the story.
Will something that looks great in your studio look great in the story? Will it serve the child reader? It's not a podium for your art, it's a book for a kid.
More importantly than learning to read from picture books is learning why it is important to read. That's all happening in picture books and affects the rest of a person's life, not to put any pressure on you authors and illustrators out there!
Mark's final comment:You are involved in something important and need to bring your best work.