NYC SCBWI Winter Conference '14

Howdy folks!

In February, I visited NYC for the SCBWI Winter Conference. The line up of speakers was outstanding and I walked away from every session with helpful tips and new ideas.

Hearing Brett Helquist talk about his character development process was a huge highlight. I remember reading The Series of Unfortunate Events when I was young and being heavily influenced by his draftsmanship and style. So I was surprised and inspired to hear him say he continually reads "how-to books" on drawing and always sees room for improvement. Other highlights include hearing two of my favorite author/illustrators, Oliver Jeffers and Peter Brown, talk during a panel discussion on The Art of the Picture Book. Roxie Munro gave a talk on new media that was an insightful overview of both the technology and market trends of ebooks and apps. And Jack Ganto's keynote was a wild ruckus of exciting stories and helpful writing tips.

Another highlight, I was asked to be one of the illustrators for the conference blog. These two paintings were my contributions, check out the post here

During the conference, I had the chance to take a field trip to the The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter exhibit at the NYC Public Library, which I highly recommend. It's a well assembled survey of the history of children's books, beautifully designed and with an incredible array of artifacts (you can see the original Winnie the Pooh bear and the parrot-handled umbrella that inspired Mary Poppin's talking umbrella in the movie!).

Outside the NYC Public Library: Keika Yamaguchi, Linda Dorn, Corinna Luyken, Renee Spencer, Me, and Brook Boynton Hughes

Rodolfo Montalvo and I riding Milo's car into the Phantom Tollbooth

On my last day in NY, I visited the Society of Illustrators and attended their Illustrators 56 exhibition. It was inspiring to see so much wonderful and diverse illustration in one place. 

Attending this year's conference as gotten me thinking about how much the SCBWI has helped me improve as an artist and writer. Before 2013, I had only occasionally been active with the SCBWI and my career as a children's book writer/illustrator had stagnated. If you're new to the SCBWI, I want to encourage you to keep up your craft and keep attending conferences. To get back in the groove, I attended the Winter Conference last year, the program itself was wonderful and everyone was gracious, but I knew very few people and spent much of the time feeling awkward and self-conscious. But afterwards, I became involved in my local SCBWI chapter, attended two more SCBWI conferences, and worked steadily on sharpening my skills. As a result, this year I was much more comfortable at the conference, knew many more people, had improved my portfolio, and felt more optimistic about my career. It's exciting to look back and see how much progress is possible in a year.  So keep on trucking', I look forward to seeing you at conferences and cheering each other on as we both make progress!

I'm so thankful to have had to opportunity to attend the conference, see old friends, meet new ones and see so much inspiring artwork. Now I'm stoked up to get back in the studio! Thanks for visiting!