Sunday, February 13, 2022

Thanks For Joining Us For The 2022 SCBWI Winter Conference!

On behalf of Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Don Tate, Jaime Temairik, Jolie Stekly, and myself, Lee Wind, thank you for spending time with us as we experienced and blogged the 2022 SCBWI Winter Conference - #scbwiWinter22

a screenshot of SCBWI Team Blog, showing (clockwise from top left) Lee Wind, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Jolie Stekly, Don Tate, and Jaime Temariki
Clockwise from top left: Lee Wind, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Jolie Stekly, Don Tate, and Jaime Temairik

We hope you're inspired to do your creative thing, and are cheering you on as you illustrate, translate, and write works for kids and teens!

As Stephanie Garber said in her Saturday morning keynote, 
"Your dream is worth pursuing!"

Portfolio Showcase Winners and Other Illustrator Awards

Congrats to all the illustrator award winners at this year's conference! Special thanks to Priscilla Burris (Portfolio Showcase Director), TeMika Grooms (U.S. Illustrator Coordinator) and Dana Carey (Global Illustrator Coordinator); do read our recent Behind The Scenes At The SCBWI Winter Conference Portfolio Showcase post for more info and others who help put the Showcase together.

Note to all illustrators: do reach out to your Regional Illustrator Coordinators to ask about local portfolio events. You can find out more about SCBWI's Awards and Grants for illustrators here.

See the previous blog post for info about the other award announcements about other scholarship winners and the 2022 Spark Award winners.

Narrative Art Award Winner: 

Narrative art award winner: Drucilla Santiago

Druscilla Santiago - Personal website -  Instagram

Student Illustrator Scholarship Winners:

Student Illustrator Scholarship winners: Tsae Yung (Kelly) Wu and Elena Aguirre Uranga

Elena Aguirre Uranga - Personal website
Tsae Yung (Kelly) Wu - Personal website - Instagram

Portfolio Showcase Honor Awards:

Porfolio Showcase Honor Awards: Druscilla Santiago, Heegyum Kim

Druscilla Santiago - Personal website -  Instagram
Heegyum Kim - Personal website - Instagram - Twitter - Etsy

Portfolio Showcase Grand Prize Awards:

Grand Prize winners: Shamar Knight-Justic, Brizida Magro

Shamar Knight-Justice - Personal website - Instagram
Brizida Margo - Personal website - Instagram

Sarah Baker chatting with Grand Prize winners

Congrats to all the winners!

CONGRATULATIONS to the #scbwiWinter22 Scholarship Winners & the 2022 Spark Award Winners

 Congratulations to the #scbwiWinter 22 Scholarship Recipients. 

Scholarship winners

BIPOC Scholarship

BIPOC Scholarship Winners: Marzieh Abbas Karen Chow Zahra Haque Sonya Kenkare Tiara Luten Sherri Mercer Ebony Mudd Akbar Shabazz Jenkins Beverly Taylor Morris Washington

Marzieh Abbas
Karen Chow
Zahra Haque
Sonya Kenkare
Tiara Luten
Sherri Mercer
Ebony Mudd
Akbar Shabazz Jenkins
Beverly Taylor
Morris Washington

General Scholarship

General Scholarship Winners: NaShanta Fletcher Kyle Horne Andrea Campos Effie Koliopoulos Farnaz Nadim

NaShanta Fletcher
Kyle Horne
Andrea Campos
Effie Koliopoulos
Farnaz Nadim

Student Writer Scholarship

Student Writer Scholarship: Jazmín Abels, Sarah Rouhier

Jazmín Abels
Sarah Rouhier

Student Illustrator Scholarship

Student Illustrator Scholarships: Tsae Yung (Kelly) Wu Elena Aguirre Uranga

Tsae Yung (Kelly) Wu
Elena Aguirre Uranga

And a big round of applause to the winners of this year's Spark Awards. The Spark Award is an annual award that recognizes excellence in children's books published through a non-traditional publishing route. 

Spark Awards

Spark Winners

Spark Award Winners: Picture Book: Imani's Undersea Adventure by T.M. Jackson Book for Older Readers Winner: Blue by L.E. DeLano

Picture Book:
Imani's Undersea Adventure by T.M. Jackson

Book for Older Readers Winner:
Blue by L.E. DeLano

Spark Honor Books

Spark Honor Books: Picture Book: Read Island, written by Nicole Magistro, Illustrated by Alice Feagan  Book for Older Readers: The Girl in the Triangle by Joyana Peters

Picture Book:
Read Island, written by Nicole Magistro, Illustrated by Alice Feagan 
Book for Older Readers:
The Girl in the Triangle by Joyana Peters

Sunday Illustrator Sessions and Illustrated Notes From #SCBWIWinter22

Today's Illustrator sessions focused on SETTING, how to build a believable world that amplifies the story arc and reflects your characters' physical and emotional journey. After an intro from Sarah Baker, Laurent Linn, and Cecilia Yung, we heard from illustrators Juana Martinez-Neal, Victoria Tentler-Krylov and Victo Ngai.  Thanks to ASL interpreters Jodi Raffoul, Jennye Kamin and Emma for their help with this session.

With Juana Martinez-Neal, we explored historical and cultural settings.

Juana Martinez-Neal's studio

With Victoria Tentler-Krylov, we explored urban and architectural settings.

Cover of Sanctuary by Victoria Tentler-Krylov

With Victo Ngai, we explored imaginative and enhanced settings.

Victo Ngai showing art

After we heard from these three amazing illustrators, there was a lively Q&A panel with Juana, Victoria and Victo, moderated by Pat Cummings.

Thanks to artist attendees who have been posting some of their illustrated session notes with the conference hashtag #SCBWIWinter22! You can see a selection of illustrated notes from Friday and Saturday in this blog post. Here is a selection from sessions today:

Melanie Bryce tweet about Settings Loading

Lynnor Bontigao's sketch of Juana Martinez-Neal

Lauren Foster-Macleod's sketch

Amy Leigh Starr's illustrated doodle of herself

Inspirational quote from Victo Ngai

And one more #SCBWIBird, from Haley Grunloh. The hashtag is being used by first-timers at the conference; see Jolie Stekly's excellent Newcomers' Orientation for details.
Haley Grunloah's SCBWIBird

Illustrated Notes from the SCBWI Winter Conference (Fri, Sat) #SCBWIWinter22

So fun to see so many illustrators posting doodles and sketches inspired by the conference! Here are just a few from Twitter....

Alexis Faye Recipes For Success drawing, cook dropping hearts and stars into cooking pot

BabyDumpingsBooks drawing of a bird

Melanie Cordan's "this is not an apple" sketch from Brian Selnick's session

Lynnor Bontigao's sketch of Brian Selznick

Inspired by Paula Yoo's keynote:

Melanie Cordan sketch from Stephanie Garber's talk

Jena Benton's sketch from Stephanie Garber's talk

Lynnor Bontigao's sketch from Kelly Yang's talk

AlexisFaye sketch from Kelly Yang talk, drawing during covid

On tap today: Up Close with Publishing Professionals (for those who have registered for these sessions), Illustration-focused sessions about story settings, awards and wrap-up! If you post illustrated notes from any of these sessions, make sure you use the conference hashtag #SCBWIWinter22 so others can see.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Q&A With SCBWI Illustrator Advisory Committee

SCBWI Illustration Advisory Board
Last event of today: Q&A with the SCBWI Illustrator Advisory Committee: Peter Brown, Priscilla Burris, Pat Cummings, Laurent Linn, Cecilia Yung and Paul O. Zelinsky. They also invited two Illustrator Coordinators to join in: Dana Carey (Global Illustrator Coordinator) and TeMika Grooms (U.S. Illustrator Coordinator).

One of the frequently asked questions was to how illustrators could submit their work to Laurent and Cecilia, and Laurent gave specifics during the session as well as posting info in the chat.

Some of the other topics discussed:

Topic: Is it ok to submit a picture book as an author-illustrator team rather than separately?

Cecilia said that while most art directors and editors prefer finding their own illustrators, she says it's fine to submit as a team. However, she points out that if they don't like either the art OR the writing, you're more likely to get a rejection. Also, be wary of coming across as too controlling, which may turn off potential publishers.

Topic: Is it ok if I post multiple art styles on my website?

Priscilla says it's ok to show multiple styles on your website as long as it's well organized.

Cecilia says she only wants to see things "that you're really really good at." Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses re: techniques and styles. She points out that if you're unable do this, then an art director may wonder if this would affect your work while illustrating a picture book.

Laurent advises illustrators against trying to emulate styles that you think others want to see. "You be you." Paul Zelinsky strongly agrees. He says that if you try to be like everyone else, you're less likely to be satisfied in your career down the road.

Topic: How do I find out which specific people at a publisher who might like my work?

Pat advises looking at current books that you LOVE, then you have a better chance of finding an editor and art director who might have the same tastes. Pat says  The Original Art catalog may help track down this info.

Topic: If a publisher is closed to unsolicited submissions, does that also apply to art?

Laurent says not necessarily. He points out that he welcomes postcard samples at any time, for example. 

Topic: Where can I find critique groups?

TeMika Grooms encourages illustrators to reach out to their regional groups and get involved with their local critique groups. She also says to check The Book (mentioned in next paragraph) for useful info as well.

Other takeaways:

Dana Carey strongly recommends illustrators check out The Book: The Essential Guide To Publisher For Children, available as a free PDF (for members) on the SCBWI website. The Book has a TON of essential info covered in the Q&A, critique groups, publishers, etc.

TeMika Grooms: Stay the course. Make sure you keep work on improving your craft. Remember self-care. Take breaks, but don't let the breaks go too long.

Paul Zelinsky: When you feel stopped or discouraged, try some new art material. Even if you're not planning to use it for your book illustration work, it can help jumpstart your creativity again.

Pat Cummings: Find your community. She also encourages illustrators to attend regional conferences, which could be a great way to meet people in the industry you want to work with. Do what you love, put it out there, and believe in yourself. 

Priscilla Burris: If you're blocked, try putting on some music you loved from your early teen years (or earlier!); sometimes this can help bring out a different part of you that you've forgotten. Don't be predictable. Be you. Let the characters speak to you as you sketch daily. Let them move you.

Peter Brown: Don't be too precious about your work. Remember that publishing is a business. Be able to take constructive criticism. Be an idea factory. It won't be as painful if you're rejected if you have lots of ideas.

Cecilia Yung: Remember that the eyes are the windows to your soul. Eyes, eyebrows, eyelids, directionality. Squeeze as much emotion as you can from the eyes. If you're having a challenge, then you should rethink how you draw eyes.

Laurent Linn: It all comes down to purpose. What do you have to say, and why do you want to say it? That is what is going to make your art stand out. 

And that's a wrap on today's programming!

Chad Beckerman: Agent Panel #scbwiWinter22

Chad Beckerman is a bit of an X-Man — he seems to have been born with supernatural design and illustration skills that he originally used (for good, not evil!) as an art director at Scholastic, Greenwillow Books, and ABRAMS Kids and Comic Arts —powers which he now uses to save the worlds of new and established artists alike as a literary agent at the CAT Agency. 

When Chad is looking for illustrators, he's looking for a unique voice. And one of the best exercises he's found is to make yourself do some fan art of a favorite work, for example designing YOUR version of the Harry Potter cover(s). To Chad, style is just the straight look of your work, it doesn't mean 'watercolor' or 'digital', your brand is your stamp on the work. You can evolve that brand over time but Chad is looking for consistency within those iterations.

Even with fan art you should be thinking about all of the different angles of the package, in this case a hardcover book. How do the cover image, title type, spine, flaps and endpapers all work together? Your brand as an illustrator should be evident on the book as a whole.

When Chad is looking to take on a new client he asks himself what kind of work can he get them—board books, YA covers, etc.?

Chad has his illustrators look through their own online portfolios and Instagram posts and ask themselves if the pieces they are showing look like the work they want to be getting and is 'on brand'.

Every single element can be branded, these thoughtful banner examples below make it clear in one image the voice and style of the illustrator, the subjects that are important to them, and a clear indication of where their work fits in to the children's book industry (board books, comics, YA covers, etc.):

How do you build your voice? Chad says to focus on you and what is enjoyable to you. He has his illustrators make a list of 100 things that they love to draw (from John Hendrix's book DRAWING IS MAGIC) and then to find a way to include some of those things in all of your drawings, always.

Maria Elias (Rise): Art Directors Panel #scbwiWinter22

Maria Elias is an art director with Rise by Penguin Workshop which she co-founded in 2019.  Rise's mission is to engage, empower, and evolve the youngest readers (ages 0-5) with authentic, relevant, and elegant books. With that age group in mind Maria's recipe for a successful illustration portfolio involves KEEPING IT SIMPLE.

Don't overthink it, don't try to illustrate things you perceive are more marketable if they are wildly not in your style. Maria advocates for keeping your personal style even if you think it might be too 'old' for the 0 to 5 crowd. When Maria is looking at portfolios she's looking for work that fits a book's tone, and a biography with lived or learned experience as found in the manuscript that will help bring truth and reality to the final work.

She hires great artists, period. She's looking for illustrators with uniquely individual styles showcased in portfolios with a diverse cast of characters. 

Maria shares a number of illustrators portfolios and then compares and contrasts that work with their final work for the young audience of Rise. All of the styles are different, but all still manage to convey warm, relatable characters suited to that age range. 

Maria also asks illustrators to examine if their characters' diversity is only in skin color and not also diversity in hair styles, nose shapes, lips, body shape, etc.

She shares sketches of one of her favorite collaborators, Anne/Andy Passchier. Passchier's initial round of sketches for the book, BEING YOU. Maria wondered if they could make the designs even more personal and diverse. While still working in Pashier's style, the round 2 images contain more unique details making the character group mirror our more inclusive, realworld diversity.