Friday, August 4, 2023

Art Directors Panel: Lauren Rille (Simon & Schuster)

Topic: The Changing Landscape In Children's Book Publishing For Illustrators

Such an inspiring Art Directors Panel with Karina Granda (Art Director, Little Brown Books for Young Readers), Miranda Paul (Agent, Erin Murphy Literary Agency), Lauren Rille - Art Director, Simon & Schuster), and Zejun Yao - (Agent, Yeon Agency).  The panel was moderated by TeMika Grooms

In this post, I'll be focusing on Lauren Rille. Do browse the Conference Blog for takeaways from the other panelists; click links in the above paragraph.

Lauren Rille is an Art Director at Simon & Schuster, where she works with the Beach Lane, Atheneum, and McElderry imprints. Before joining S&S, Lauren was a designer at Sterling and Harcourt Children’s Books. Books she’s designed include the most recent edition of Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, cover illustration by Debbie Ridpath Ohi; In Every Life by Marla Frazee; The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater, illustrated by the Fan Brothers; Scraps by Lois Ehlert; Best In Snow by April Pulley Sayre; and the best-selling Bear Series by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman. You can find out more info about Lauren at, Instagram, and Twitter.

Lauren has been an Art Director for 15 years, and says her sweet spot is picture books, but she also works with illustrated MG and YA. Lauren helped revamp the Judy Blume books for Atheneum/Simon & Schuster (note from Debbie: I was the illustrator, woohoo! Here is a blog post by Lauren and me about creating a new look for Judy Blume classics).

Where Lauren finds artists:

Lauren says she finds illustrators everywhere, that there's no one "right" place. She especially likes Instagram, where illustrators tend to post sketches and work in progress and aren't as "precious" about their work.

Tips for illustrators:

Go beyond just character studies/portraits in your portfolio. Have a narrative, show that you can convey a story with your art.

Even if you're not a writer, don't stress about coming up with your own story. Do your own take on an already established story, like Red Riding Hood - it will get across your sense of setting, point of view, shows that you can show a moment from a story.

It's ok to show multiple styles in your online portfolio, but show that you have a real command of whatever styles you're using. Avoid showing the same work over and over; when Lauren notices this over the years, she says it gives the impression you're not working on improving your craft. 

Lauren loves the collaboration process with the illustrator. She says she always encourages the illustrator ask questions or to ask for help if they need it. "It's more fun if we work together."

Fill your portfolio with art featuring the age of kids you want to illustrate for. She advises browsing children's clothing catalogs can help you come up with authentic clothing for your characters.

Even though it didn't come up during the session, I should also point out that Lauren Rille is a picture book creator herself:

I Feel Teal is written by Lauren Rille and illustrated by Aimée Sicuro, published by Simon & Schuster.


If you want to view this session to hear the full content, along with the rest of the conference, register at Replays of the conferences will be available until September 10th, 2023. See the index to all 2023 SCBWI Summer Conference blog posts.

Also be sure to check out the Faculty Conference Bookshop and the Portfolio Showcase!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post with great advice from Lauren and omg I love Sicuro's work. Sicuro is definitely on my illustrator mood board.