Thursday, July 27, 2023

Interview: Druscilla Santiago, SCBWI Summer Conference materials illustrator

Curious about the illustrator behind the wonderful art on the SCBWI Summer Conference 2023 banner and other conference materials? Keep reading!

A member of SCBWI Hawai'i, Druscilla Santiago lives and draws on the island of O'ahu. She has a background in graphic design and art direction, and her comics have been published in Cubby at Home and Illustoria magazine. In 2021, she received the SCBWI Narrative Art Award for her piece, “City Bear.” She is represented by Kelly Sonnack at Andrea Brown Literary Agency. You can find out more about Druscilla on her website, and on Instagram at @adventurefunclub.

From TeMika Grooms, SCBWI's Manager Of Design And Illustration: "Druscilla's reading-themed illustration showcases the playfulness, patterns and color palette you will find in much of her creative work.  It was the perfect inspiration to enliven our Summer Conference visual assets. I'm delighted to have worked with her on this project."

  Q. I love your wonderful conference art! How did you become the official illustrator for this year’s SCBWI Summer Conference? 

 A. Thank you, Debbie! I was asked to create the art for the summer conference shortly after the SCBWI Winter conference where I was awarded the Agented Grand Prize at the Portfolio Showcase.

 Q. What was your creative process? 

 I start most projects with a list. For this, I asked myself, "What is summer?" I wrote things like: Snacks, Screentime, Gramma’s House, Camping, Playing in the Streets, etc.  I am from Hawaiʻi and weather-wise, it’s summer all year round so I wanted to push past the sunny skies and think more about the freedom and massive amount of time that kids have when they’re out of school. I sketched out a few of my ideas and ultimately leaned into what I love: close up drawings of people. I decided on a pair of siblings cruising at home with some books and snacks. After a few rounds of sketches, I added color and final details and our summer readers where brought to life!

Here is their story:

These two siblings went to the library, grabbed a pile of books and then stopped by 7-11 for snacks on the way to gramma’s house where they’re going to hang out until their mom gets off of work.

The girl is a fan of horror. She is still learning to read so she gravitates to early reader comics. Her brother loves fantasy and sci-fi. He’s a year or two older, so he’s reading a chapter book. Their gramma (not pictured) loves mystery shows and is currently watching Colombo.

I had a lot of fun with this illustration. These are the kids we’re making books for, you know?

Q. What advice do you have for illustrators working on their portfolios?

I found portfolio reviews very helpful. Getting a few different opinions about my work at different stages has helped me grow immensely. I got advice about the type of work I should be adding to my portfolio, the areas that I needed to improve on, and how to present my work more clearly. While I don’t always agree with all of the feedback, I appreciate the chance to see things from a different perspective. So, if you find yourself with an opportunity to get a review—I’d say go for it.

Q. In what kind of kidlit book illustration work are you most interested?

This is a tough question! I definitely love picture books. But lately I’ve been thinking about book covers and chapter headers. I think it’s the graphic designer in me. I also like the idea of concept board books. I love to play with the book as a medium. And board books have these sturdy pages that flip or fold out or have shiny and textural elements… they can be really interactive and I’d love to explore that realm someday.

Q. What are your recent or upcoming books? What are you working on now?

My debut picture book as an illustrator, Hands-On Science: Matter, by Lola M. Schaefer, was just published by Charlesbridge on July 11th, which was very exciting! 

It is the first in a series of three interactive science books that will roll out over the next year. And, at the moment I am working on the illustrations for A Hat for House, by Audrey Perrott which should come out next year.

Q. Where can people find out more about you and your work?

The best place to discover more about my work is my website: and instagram: @adventurefunclub

To find out more about me, we should get coffee and a treat at the next SCBWI in-person conference!

There's still time to register for the upcoming virtual SCBWI Summer Conference at! Every attendee has access to the content of all 50 sessions for up to one month after the conference concludes. See the index to all 2023 SCBWI Summer Conference blog posts.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Meet TEAM BLOG: Looking forward to #scbwiSummer23

The online summer conference is just around the corner and Team Blog is gearing up and excited. Meet this summer's SCBWI Team Blog and hear what we love about SCBWI conferences and what we're most looking forward to at #scbwiSummer23!

Will we see you there? Tell us what you're looking forward to.

If you haven't registered yet, it's not too late. You can register HERE.

Here's the great thing: While it's so much fun to participate live, you don't have to. The conference runs from August 3-6, but if you're working, on vacay, or have anything else that conflicts, the replays from this event are available until September 10th, 2023. 

BUT...there are some great opportunities that are time sensitive and/or require attendance that you might not want to miss. 

The Portfolio Showcase! This event has launched careers, and not just for the winners. The deadline is coming up soon. You must sign up by 7/24 at 5:00 pm and submit your pieces by 7/24 at 11:59 pm. 

Also, don't miss your chance to pitch to an editor or agent, to have a consultation for your website and social media, and to participate in peer critique. All require registration and online attendance. 

If you're not able to join, or just want a sense of what's happening at the conference, please follow us here. Team Blog will be posting as the conference is happening. And follow the #scbwiSummer23 hashtag across social media platforms to see what the SCBWI, Team Blog, and attendees are sharing. 

Click HERE to register and check out all that's happen.