Saturday, February 11, 2023

Creative Lab: The Art of Business: Building, Expanding, and Sustaining Your Illustration Career

Creative Lab: The Art of Business: Building, Expanding, and. Sustaining Your Illustration Career

SESSION 1Building Your Career with Cecilia Yung & Christy Ewers

"Do not be intimidated, BE INSPIRED! We are all on our own paths and journeys"- Cecilia Yung

Identifying Your Career Goals

The session started with that simple quote, one that was to keep us all grounded as we journeyed along with the amazing Christy Ewers and Cecilia Yung.

"At every stage of your career, you'll find challenges. Identify who you are as an artist and illustrator."

During the presentation, there was an emphasis on pinpointing your needs, wants, and interests. 

"Make a list of 100 favorite things to draw"- Christy Ewers

Christy Ewers suggested a wonder exercise from John Hendrix "Drawing is Magic" where you write down 100 things that you like to draw. This is a great way to know what you want to spend your time drawing and also, what you DON'T want.



We discussed how our goals should differ from one another. We are all at different stages of our careers, with different life circumstances, gifts, focus, and resources. We shouldn't have generic goals. Know what you want and lean toward that. 

"How you spend your day is how you spend your life."

With so much to consider, you are in control. YOU determine what your priorities and needs are. And a great way is to make short and long-term goals for yourself. Such powerful words. 

"Your portfolio is a thumbnail of your life" Cecilia Yung

With incredible insight from both the agency and publishing side, we went in depth through the different genres, deep diving to help the illustrators in the audience find their "niche.

We dove into what you should try to focus on within your art. "Action, Reaction, Interaction!" Cecilia Yung emphasized the importance of being a visual storyteller. Does it work? Ask for critiques from supportive and thoughtful people. Be critical as you assess your work!

Don't follow the trends. Instead, find what makes you tick and go toward that!

The biggest takeaway for me was knowing WHO ARE YOU? Remember, "you are as strong as your weakest piece" and "what does your portfolio say about you?" 

Lean into your strengths. Lean into your weaknesses. "You don't have to do every. You don't need to be good at everything. Be really good at one thing." That's good enough. 


C'est moi, trying my best to take ALL the notes! SO MANY NUGGETS!!!!

Shoutout to Debbie Ridpath Ohi for taking such wonderful photos for me as I soaked everything in! Debbie was a part of Session Two, and all I can say is- WOW! So grateful for her energy and wonderful advice! Such a supernova of a human!

Stay connected with this AWESOME community, with #scbwiNY23 on Twitter @scbwi & Instagram @scbwi

Chrisy Ewers is the owner of The CAT Agency, renamed in 2018 in homage to her mother, Christina A. Tugeau, who founded the agency in 1994. The CAT Agency is a boutique agency that takes a personal approach to representing a diverse group of children’s book illustrators and author/illustrators from all over the world. Along with colleagues, Senior Agent, Chad W. Beckerman and Associate Agents, Christie Megill and Aliza R. Hoover, Christy works closely with the entire family of artists, supporting long-term career growth for all creators. She leads in spearheading deals and promotion for CAT Agency illustrators, as well as working alongside the authors in the group to help craft their stories for young readers. For more information, visit

Cecilia Yung is executive art director and vice president at Penguin Books for Young Readers, where she oversees illustration and design for two imprints, G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Nancy Paulsen Books. She is fortunate to have worked with some of the major illustrators of children’s books, but the highlight of her work is to discover and develop new talent. She is on the Advisory Council of SCBWI, as well as a member of its Illustrators Committee.

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