Hello everyone! I am back from New York and have finally caught up on some much needed rest which is why my update is a bit late. The SCBWI Conference was a much needed experience. After 4 days with a group of creatives, I came away energized, excited, and determined to expand into the children's book market.
The trip did not start off very well with a delay in receiving my promo postcards (which never arrived) and my flight being cancelled early Wednesday morning due to the impending snow storm. I was traveling with my good buddy Hazel Mitchell, aka the Wacky Brit, who called me Tuesday night to inform me of the flight cancellation. We decided to take a train from Portland to New York on Thursday instead of flying in early Friday morning which is the first day of the conference. After some worries about getting into New York, we finally arrived after 14 hours and a few minor delays. Hazel checked into the hotel, I met up with my good friend Ilene Block and her family in Brooklyn where I spent the night. It was so much fun to spend some time with her. She is an amazing designer who I met while working on "World World" characters. Friday, I headed to the Grand Hyatt for day one and the "Illustrators Intensive". Immediately, I met some outstanding and inspiring illustrators who are the in book market or are inspiring to get into illustrating children's books. Dan Yaccarino gave a very funny but informational keynote. Dan has written and illustrated such books as Oswald, Go Go America, and Willa's Wild Life which is also a tv show. The main focus of Friday's intensive was talking about ebooks, enhanced books, apps, and the digital market. The various panel members stressed the need for an online presence by using blogs, social networks, and websites. My thinking is that my style might be a good fit.
Later in the evening there was a showcase for the illustrators to enter one piece, 14x18, along with cards, to display for agents, reps, art directors, etc. to walk through and pickup samples. Luckily I had some bookmarks that I could use. They did not match the print but it was better than nothing. I entered the girl and the robot. We got to walk through after the private viewing to pickup our pieces. I must say that the artwork was topnotch. One definitely got a sense on where they stood in relation to the other artist. Awards were presented on Sunday for Best of Show" and three "Honorable Mentions". And no, I did not win but did have a lot of cards picked up which made me very happy.
Saturday was spent in workshops which were in smaller groups. My focus was art directors and agents. After hearing advice from them, especially Lucy Cummins who LOVES illustrators, it made me refocus my efforts and rethink my approach. We were provided a lunch where I sat with a cool group of illustrators and writers. My weekend roommate, Josh Alves, joined us. He actually met an editorial director who is interested in his comic books. My fingers are crossed for him. R.L. Stine, Goosebumps, spoke during lunch. He was brilliant and very funny. His advice is "to always say YES". He wanted to write humorous books and magazines until some suggested he write a spooky story. So he said "YES". That was 350 million books ago. Yes, 350,000,000 books!!!! The evening was spent dining with new friends and then early to bed. Well, early meaning midnight.
Sunday was the last day of the conference. We heard talks from Mo Willems, Marvin Terbean, Lenore Look, and a beautiful speech by Sara Zarr. If someone posted that on Youtube, you must view it. It makes you say "I can do this". After goodbyes, exchanging of info, it was time to uptown to spend the evening with Eric Brown, a close friend from my art school days. Eric is an animator on "World Girl" and created "Shorties Watching Shorties". We had a ton of laughs and a few beers.
Monday I was back on train heading home. I felt more determined, focused, and ready for the next than ever before. I reviewed my notes on the train only to realize that I had ideas for 21 stories. Whether any of them are good or not, is irrelevant. It is that the ideas are flowing so I must stay on track. I am working on new website with hopes of getting it online this week.
Here are some of the cool people I met with a link to their work. Josh Alves a comic book artist; Debbie Ohi aka iPadgirl, a published book writer and illustrator; John Deininger, illustrator extraordinaire with a ebook coming out soon; Erik Brooks, established children's book illustrator and author; Jeremy Provost, another illustrator who did a beautiful piece for the show; Nancy Foulke, another illustrator and great person; Heidi Sheffield, aspiring illustrator who does a very cool collage style; and Laura Clement who is writing several children's books. There were many others and I hope to stay in touch with through the course of the year. I am looking forward to next year's conference.
"Just say YES." ~ R.L. Stine