Saturday, August 4, 2012

Melissa Sweet: Swinging Out: 10 Ways to Open New Doors for Designing Picture Books

If, like me, you misread this session's title and only saw a few keywords, let me correct you: this was NOT forty-five minutes of a Jim Morrison swingers sexcapade tell-all. But don't despair, Melissa's talk was just as saucy, only illustration focused.

Melissa with her Jim Morrison inspired adult toys.

No... those are PG-rated marionnettes, my mistake!

Truthfully, my Melissa Sweet love knows no bounds. I can't get enough of her! Melissa Sweet, you will remember, is the incredible dynamo behind Clementine, Balloons Over Broadway, A River of Words, The Boy Who Drew Birds, and on, and on.

Lee Wind did a great interview with her here, right after the Golden Kites were announced.

Here's what you missed if you didn't get to attend in person: 45 minutes of pure, dear genius, a complimentary copy of the new drawing book made by Melissa, full-color handout on color, live demo of watercolor/color theory, a bibliography on how to begin to be as awesome as Melissa, and her ten steps PLUS action items for improving your illustration work.

Team Blog will share two tips! But they're really just the tips of the amazing Melissa iceberg.

Melissa read years ago that Joyce Carol Oates worked for four hours every day. That may not sound like a full day, but over the course of a year a significant amount of work gets done, and Oates is a ridiculously prolific author. Melissa thought she could do four hours, too, and she believes though it is not a possibility for everyone, it's a goal to work toward. She also advises that you don't think of this as cracking the whip on yourself, but as giving yourself four hours every day to engage with your materials and have fun, the work will flow from that.

Melissa's action item: Create a space and a time to practice (even if it's only a few minutes each day) with a material or medium you've been dying to try. Take a class! [Melissa is an admitted class junky]

Melissa's books are full of gorgeous, inventive, hand-lettered letters. She says if you're having trouble with a scene or spread in your book, try adding some hand lettering to it and see what happens.

Melissa's action item: Write out (hand-letter) a simple picture book slowly... In the spirit of onomotopoeia, write out "Baa-baa black Sheep" and make the letters feel the emotion with color and size.

Or Team Blog would give you this phrase to practice hand-lettering:


I'm sure all the other attendees of the session will join me in saying Melissa was amazing as usual, and any chance you get to see or hear her, take it.

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