Sunday, July 9, 2017

Stacy Innerst: School Visits as an Illustrator

Stacy Innerst’s picture books have earned numerous honors including the BCCB Blue Ribbon, two Parents’ Choice Gold Medals, and a Smithsonian Notable Book Citation. His illustrations for The Music in George's Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue, written by Suzanne Slade (Boyds Mills), received the 2017 Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Illustration. Visit

Stacy Innerst's breakout session at the Los Angeles SCBWI Summer Conference was absolutely packed with information about school visits for illustrators.

He walked us through his personal school visit slideshow, beginning with the images he uses to introduce himself. In lieu of a typical biographical slideshow (Here's where I went to school; here are the books I made), Stacy shares images from home, of his son, of books he loved and read as a kid, and things he did as a kid (like scribble in books when he shouldn't have) -- something almost any kid can relate to. He then explains the process of making a book from researching and creating characters to showing images of his studio space and art materials.

Finally, he concludes with information about specific books he's made, the materials he used to make them, his art making process and background, and an interactive drawing demonstration that shows kids that drawing is something they can do, too.

  • I particularly loved hearing his practical tips. As an illustrator who has never made a picture book school visit, it was incredibly helpful to learn about:
  • What to include in your contract.
  • Asking teachers for assistance prior to your visit: making sure they've read your book and their students will be familiar with your book; asking for their help calling on kids when it comes to Q&A; learning the school hand signal for "quiet please", etc.
  • How to tactful bring up your visit fee, and what to do if a schools doesn't have the budget for it
  • Planning your visit and making sure you and the school are on the same page -- i.e. materials that you're bringing or you need them to provide; how many sessions you'll be doing, how many kids you'll be presenting to, etc.
  • How to handle book signings (and/or sales) during school visits.

After this session, I feel so much more prepared for my first school visit. Thank you to Stacy for so eloquently distilling his experiences into such helpful, specific, and actionable info.

Catch more of the conference highlights this year through blog posts tagged #LA17SCBWI or as-it-happens on Twitter.

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