Sunday, February 23, 2014

Shadra Strickland: The Art of the Picture Book Panel

Shadra Strickland studied design, writing, and illustration at Syracuse University and got her MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She won the Ezra Jack Keats Award and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent for her first picture book, Bird (Lee & Low), and she co-illustrated Our Children Can Soar (Bloomsbury), winner of a 2010 NAACP Image Award. She is also the illustrator of A Place Where Hurricanes Happen (Random House), a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, and she teaches Illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art. Her website is

Arthur Levine asks the panel to share about making mistakes:

There was a piece in BIRD that Shadra knew she had make sing, but it wasn't working. She had to do it eight times, but it took walking away and coming back to figure out what was wrong. 

Shadra recommends: Know yourself. Know what you're capable of. It's easy to say yes to everything. Shadra has had great manuscripts come her way that she's turned down because she thought she couldn't bring anything to the project. 

Arthur Levine shares that each illustrator on the panel has learned this because they have all said no to him.

Shadra has the most fun with books when she is in love with the writing. She has had a book where it felt like a line in the book didn't work and went to the editor about it. Shadra takes chances to have those conversations. She loves those projects where she can trust her editor and art director. 

Shadra suggests: Get to know your character before you start posing them and staging them in your story.

Arthur Levine: What's one great thing that you find in a manuscript that made you think WOW?

Shadra Strickland: I usually cry.

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