There was a lot for illustrators at this conference. This page has my notes that apply specifically to illustrators, but the general conference notes page has some good information for illustrators, too.
Illustrators Yuyi Morales and Loren Long gave touching and funny acceptance speeches at the Golden Kite Luncheon on Sunday, and they are both amazingly down-to-earth, warm people to talk to.
Yuyi’s workshop, In the Beginning Were the Pictures: Creativity and the Illustration Process, had such good handouts that I failed to take any notes I can summarize here.
Loren had long lines at his book signing, because of his popularity and because he took the time to chat with and encourage each attendee who wanted books signed. He signed my copy of I Dream of Trains and added a small illustration. Below is my bookmark from Mr. Peabody’s Apples, which Loren graciously signed because I didn’t have the book with me.
I have notes from the following speakers – you can read them all or use these links to jump to specific talks:
Friday, August 6, 4:30-5:30pm
(His one word was art.)
Member of SCBWI for 17 years. Wife Sue is an artist, too.
He feels his books look like they were illustrated by many different people. He feels this is inconsistent – to him, it looks like someone else did them. It’s okay because he takes the cue from the words of the author – a world created by words.
He was wearing a T-shirt that says INSECURITY under his suit jacket. He lives in Reinbeck, NY. Used to live in Phoenix. He has two sons, Zachary (9) and Bennett (15). Took three year old Ben to a Grateful Dead concert and gave him a camera to keep him busy. Learnt about POV from photos Ben took at the concert!
Illustrator must show what the words are saying, but must expand on it too. He showed us art from Cinder-Elly by Frances Minters, which he did on reused materials (envelopes, grocery bags, etc.) He also illustrated Sleepless Beauty and Princess Fishtail by the same author. For Princess Fishtail, Brian suggested surfer instead of sailor, and California instead of New York as the setting, and the author and editor agreed.
Friday, August 6, 11:45am-12:45pm
(Katie’s one word was tater tots.)
Submit illustrator articles (around 1000 words) & spot illustrations to the SCBWI Bulletin.
Sources for preparing promotional mailers:
Meredith Johnson, illustrator, is a great marketer. Try to find out more about her promotional materials and plans.
Check out local girl scout groups or high schools for interns to help out with mailers.
Saturday, August 7, 3:15-4:15pm
Kevin worked at:
Books of Wonder (famous NYC kids’ bookstore) – 1 yr
Scholastic Book Fairs – 1 yr
Simon & Schuster – 7 yrs
He is now executive editor at Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
He feels illustrators are so crafty that we want him to think we are not smart!
He made the following points:
On maintaining your career, he had the following five things to say:
Don’t follow trends – make your own. By the time something is a trend, it’s over.
Monday, August 9, 10:45-11:45am
Astonishingly successful pop-up book creator, studied at the Pratt Institute in NY. Was a summer intern at Dial Books for Young Readers. In the early days, he did freelance design, including bra box package design for JC Penney!
Most important advice: you have to be very steely to be in this industry: nerves of steel, very thick skin, confidence in your work – realistic confidence, being aware of your faults and high points.
He did his first book for Putnam at age 22, using cut blocks of linoleum. His advice from that project – give your work your best.
About color reproduction in print, colors usually look duller than the original. His books don’t use process magenta or yellow. He uses Rhodimine Red and Fluorescent Yellow A09, which is printed last in the press. This yellow can sometimes appear too bright.
He is a member of the Movable Book Society, which has a US conference every second year in late September. The 2004 conference was in San Diego, and they were expecting 75-100 attendees, including lots of paper engineers, and featuring David Carter, the famous creator of several Bug pop-up books. The Society is about 10 years old.
About creating Saint Valentine, a story which didn’t have a lot of historical facts to work from, Robert says that you some times have to “fake it” and show you know it. He says, “Make your own bull and take it by the horns!”
He feels one needs to be steely with your editor, art director and agent.
About sending stuff to publishers, he notes that no one is going to steal your idea, because it’s cheaper to have you do it. “My stove has a lot of burners” is the approach he recommends, so you are not idly waiting for responses from publishers.
About finding a literary agent or artist’s rep, he suggests talking to people to find out about their experiences before picking one. Agents are useful for negotiating escalators on royalties and certain foreign rights.
His favorite illustrators are:
(He didn’t mention book names – these are my additions to the notes.)
He suggests making your promotional material stand out in some way.
Remember this is NOT a fine arts field.
About self-publishing – it will not serve you best, except if you are trying to create a promotional piece. There are many drawbacks: 2500 books stored in your house to sell – the realities are labor-intensive. No reviews. He definitely dissuades it, and feels you are better off working on your craft.
About submissions for a novelty book, he recommends keeping in mind what happens when the submission is received: publisher opens it, flips through it, and if he likes it, shows it to other people at the house. So, the piece should be well-manufactured – it can’t fall apart with handling.
About a portfolio for an unpublished illustrator – it should contain only one consistent style, based on a strong, solid technique. Display excellent drawing, color and composition skills. Most of your time should be spent on your craft, not on promotions.
Thanks for visiting! ~Lara