December 6, 2011

Tomie dePaola Award

Tomie dePaola
The Tomie dePaola Illustrator Award, is given annually to an illustrator of promise chosen by Tomie himself. The award consists of a $1,000 gift certificate for art supplies, plus full tuition, transportation and accommodations to the New York Winter Conference held in Manhattan. The winning piece of art will be featured at the annual winter conference in New York.

Tomie generously financed this award until 2011 when the SCBWI chose to fund it as a permanent award in recognition of Tomie’s outstanding contribution to the SCBWI, and especially to our illustrator members. Tomie has been a long time member of the Board of Advisors (he is now emeritus), was instrumental in changing the name of the original organization to include illustrators, founded the Illustrator’s Committee of the SCBWI board which produces events especially for illustrators, taught the first master class at an SCBWI conference, and is featured on the DVD master class produced and distributed by the SCBWI. He has made a singularly important contribution to the growth and mission of the SCBWI

The Tomie dePaola Award competition is open to all SCBWI members. Each entrant is to produce one illustration, any size, any medium, that is based on a text supplied by Tomie. Entries were due no later than December 15 each calendar year. Final art must be electronically submitted and Tomie will announce the winner on January 2, 2012. The winner will receive the award at the New York Conference held at the end of January each year at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan.Tomie says that he wants to see an image, a style, a vision, that he’s never seen before. Good luck to all illustrators. We’re sending you inspiration for this prestigious and generous award.

Click here for the 2012 Tomie dePaola Award Guidelines

What a fantastic opportunity to experiment and really push yourself! After the deadline has passed, I'd like to feature your submissions on the blog. Email them to me at scbwi.hic (at) gmail (dot) com.

November 7, 2011

Zoo Sketchcrawl!

Our very first Sketchcrawl was a success! We had members (and even some of their children) ready to go on a great October day. We wandered and chatted about art and life. It was a wonderful experience, and I know we're all looking forward to doing it again! Here is some of the art from that day:

Then after scanning in these sketches, I added some color digitally.
 Mask hanging in the chimpanzee exhibit
Rhinos eating their fill

The next Sketchcrawl is scheduled for January 21st. We hope to meet up with another local group of artists and combine forces to make the day even more wonderful. Check back for details in December!

October 23, 2011

Submit Art to SCBWI's Bulletin

From the SCBWI website:
"Starting with the January/February issue of The Bulletin we will feature a member illustrator and a piece of spot art they submit to The Bulletin. In addition to worldwide recognition, the featured illustrator will receive $100 for their winning piece.

All SCBWI members are eligible to enter by submitting one or more spot illustrations following the guidelines below. Each month several other runner-up artists will be selected. Each runner-up will receive $25 for their art and have their name and piece published in The Bulletin.  SCBWI retains only the first-time rights, the artist keeps all other rights to use the art.

Don’t delay! Put your personal touch on The Bulletin by submitting today! 

Submission Guidelines:

1. You must be a current SCBWI member to submit.
2. Illustrations should be emailed to
3. All digital files should be titled with the first and last name of the illustrator, followed by a number for multiple submissions. (i.e. “John_Doe1.jpg”)
4. Images should be 300 DPI, TIF or JPG files; total file size 5MB or less. (Zipped or compressed folder attachments are fine.)
5. Grayscale or B&W files only
6. Art must be either line art or vignetted, not full-bleed art.
7. Do not mail your submission, SCBWI cannot be held responsible for art that is mailed.
You will be notified if your art was selected by the first of December for the January issue. Some art submissions that are not used immediately will be placed on a waiting list of a future bulletin. You will be notified as soon as the art will be used and a check will be issued. 

Look through past Bulletins at feature articles to get ideas on what made that art effective.

Themes appropriate for the following departments and columns are welcome:
• News & Notes
• Legally Speaking
• Art Tips
• SCBWI International: Here, There, & Everywhere
• Book Review
• Publisher’s Corner"

September 28, 2011

SCBWI-Brazos Valley is having a conference in November. They have a wonderful line-up and some great opportunities for illustrators: wonderful industry professionals and portfolio critiques. Click here for the registration form. (Psst! Act now! Word is that the early-bird registration rate is going to be held a little longer!)

September 16, 2011

Digital Storytelling Symposium

Experiences with digital storytelling has been a topic of conversation lately. If you're eager to learn more and get a better understanding on what it's really all about, I encourage you to attend SCBWI Austin's Digital Storytelling Symposium! There's a great variety of topics including Digital Painting, Digital Storytelling, Creating Digital Books and Illustrators & Technology.

There's also some great talks about social media and making you (and your work) stand out online. See the details here.

September 12, 2011

Jarrett J. Krosoczka coming to Houston!

Imago Dei cordially invites you to a showing of:

The Art of Story: A decade of original works by J.J.K.

Opening Reception and Book Signing
Friday, September 30, 2011 | 5-9pm
Children’s Story Time 6-7pm

Please contact with any questions

2525 Robinhood St.
Houston, Texas 77005
If you're not familiar with Jarrett's work, swing over to his website, then head to your local indie bookstore or library and get to reading! His work is fun and lively and not to be missed!

September 5, 2011

SCBWI LA 2011 Link Round-Up

If you missed out on attending the national conference this year, have no fear! I have gathered a few links that should tide you over.

The Official SCBWI Team Blog w/ interviews, Session notes and photos
Alice Pope's Wrap-Up
Search on Twitter: #LA11SCBWI

Angela Matteson
Casey Girard 1, 2
Kelly Light 1,2, 3
Stephanie Ruble
2010 Portfolio Mentees (includes photos and details on the Illustrator Intensives!)

Portfolio Showcase Tips

April 19, 2011

SCBWI Houston 2011 Conference Notes

(Comments are enabled! I'm so sorry they were blocked before)
SCBWI-Houston's 2011 Conference was a smashing success! We had enthusiastic attendees and fabulous speakers.  A good mix all around.  (photos courtesy of Marianne Dyson)

First, huge congratulations to Roberta Baird for winning the Illustrators' Portfolio Showcase! I've yet to meet a harder working, more productive illustrator. 

Two speakers in particular were of interest to the illustrators. The first was Ruth McNally Barshaw, author-illustrator extraordinaire. (I first met Ruth five years ago at my first SCBWI New York conference. She is as lovely and warm now as she was then.) Ruth was our keynote speaker and did an amazing job of waking everyone up with her energetic sketch presentation. The creative juices were flowing, and the smiles were stretching ear to ear by the time she finished up!

Later that morning we were treated to a presentation by creative director at Simon & Schuster,  Laurent Linn. (He has got to be one of the most amazingly nice, well-spoken and helpful people I've ever met! His parents deserve a thank you card for the great job they did!) Laurent touched on storytelling with pictures. It was an entertaining and informative presentation that did a lot to show authors why their word choice was so important to illustrators.
 A few of his tips:
*We think cinematically so a picture book can be very theatrical. A lot of work goes into establishing scene, designing costume and playing with light and shadow.
*Everything in a book is a character. Never be generic in your descriptions.

During his presentation Laurent said something to the effect of: “The art of the picture book is unfiltered story telling. When a book is read aloud, it becomes filtered through voice inflection by the reader. The art is the purest form of story for a child.” Isn’t that an empowering thought for illustrators?

In the afternoon Laurent led a breakout session for illustrators entitled, "The Nitty Gritty of Picture Book Illustration"  He showed well-known pieces of art that anyone would recognize as being beautifully rendered, but then went on to explain why those pieces would not work in children's books.

Laurent shared photos of how book pages were printed and shared why most picture books are thirty-two pages (because of the printing process). He shared the process of a book from thumbnail sketches to final art as well as the incarnation of a book cover. While walking us through these transformations, he explained a few things that need to be kept in mind: 
*Know your audience.
*Manuscript comes first.
*Within 32 pages, there needs to be a beginning-middle-end and the main character has to be transformed in his/her own way.
*It's fine to be inspired by your family, pets, etc. but your story needs to be universal. At the same time, how is it different than all the other stories out there?

And finally, Laurent shared tips on illustrator promotion:
*Book dummies go to editors.
*We've heard it 1,000 times, but postcards samples are best-every 3-4 months
 *Websites are portfolios.
*A good way to build your mailing list is to see who is speaking at SCBWI conference, because that means they are actively looking for new talent.
*Look at the copyright information of your favorite books to see who the designers are. They are often the creative/art directors of a publishing house working under a different title.

I couldn't have been more thrilled with the way the conference weekend turned out. I hope we have just as much fun and as many light-bulb moments as we did this year!

March 24, 2011

The Fine Art of Accepting Constructive Criticism by Dan Santat

(The fantastic Mr. Santat has given me permission to repost this. He says some things every beginning illustrator should know!)
I've been preparing for my keynote at the SCBWI Western Washington conference next month and I dug up this gem from my basement.
See this?....
This is a reminder of where I was eleven years ago. This was circa summer of 2000? I flew out to New York with a friend of mine and for one week I did the portfolio drop off to all the major book publishers in the city. This was a little leaflet that I left in my portfolio for art directors to make notes on for any advice. I was still in art school and I wanted to get a feel of how the professional world viewed my work before I unleashed myself to the hounds. I wanted to be prepared. I still remember that when I got this note I was a little devastated. Scholastic was a dream publisher to work for. Now, when I reflect on this letter, I think of the portfolio I had at that time and I completely agree with David Saylor. (If I still had that portfolio I would have shown you some images but I unfortunately I don't)

I wasn't ready, and in fact, that was the common response (with exception to Henry Holt) from all the art directors at the time. Getting a response from someone like David Saylor was a huge step for me and though the notes weren't detailed they still spoke volumes. I didn't cut the mustard. I had to work harder!
At one point in life everyone feels the sting of criticism and there comes that fork in the road. Do I give up the dream of being an artist or do I fight harder and learn from this? It goes for anything in life really. When I am asked to critique portfolios for SCBWI I find that it's best to not be too harsh to most people. Yes, I understand, people can be sensitive, but there is also a part of me that feels that if you're paying $300 or more for a conference that you should get some advice to improve your work so you can get to that next level to reach your dream. I've seen people cry, get mad at their reviewers, and even heard that cliche shout of denial, "I'LL SHOW YOU SOMEDAY!!! YOU'LL BE SORRY!!!!"

I often give one or two bits of advice, a list of artists they should reference, and end with a "Keep your chin up!" sort of send off. It's as much as I can give so as not to be too attached to a person and be judged for judging them. I don't need that extra drama in my life. I was in high school years ago. I HATE drama. It's not that I don't want to help more but there is always the fear of a backlash which keeps me restrained from giving my full honest review. If I'm too harsh I'm viewed as an insensitive jerk. If I'm too easy then I don't feel like I'm being fair to you in helping you improve.
But here's the God honest truth...
It's never personal.

In the end, the critiques are what will make you a better artist. I, as well as the other reviewers, are never out to crush your soul, and we say it over and over again. If you want to be better you have to hear it. When I send my stuff out to friends I don't want compliments because that gets me nowhere. Even when I get compliments from friends I ask, "Did you really mean that or are you just saying that because we're friends?"
There comes a point where some people just like to hear the compliments and their work just seems to plateau. They've settled. They feel like they're good enough and by that I don't mean that their work isn't sincerely good, but they don't know how to improve and get to that next level. It's not that the person can't get to the next level, but after years of hearing nothing but compliments it's easy to assume that it's the publishing industry not giving them that big break. That may also be true but that's where constructive criticism comes in.

Although art is subjective there are standards in the commercial art world. It's a business. Your work may be good, but as David Saylor simply put it to me, "It isn't right for their list." Over the years I feel the publishing industry has become a very square hole in a world of many different shaped pegs. If you're not the right shape of square peg then you won't get in. Be open to constructive criticism and embrace those negative notes and fight hard to improve.You'll be a much stronger person for it.

NOTE: Scholastic ended up being my very first publisher and David Sayor became my first art director

March 8, 2011

Portfolio Presentation

Portfolio Critiques:
Do NOT send your portfolio in advance; bring it to the conference. You will receive your critique time at Saturday morning registration. (If you are choosing to participate in the portfolio display, then you will drop it off during morning registration, pick it up in the same room as the critique, then return the portfolio to the table once your critique has been completed.)

This is a wonderful opportunity. The time will go by quickly, so make the most of it by being prepared.  Ask specific questions about your work and how your portfolio can best be improved. Listen carefully to the feedback given. And be sure to thank the person giving you the critique for their time.

Portfolio Display Contest:
The Portfolio Display will be held April 9th, from 8:30-2:45. Drop-off will be from 7:30am-8:20am.  Pick-up will be by 3:00pm sharp. Prizes for the winners will be awarded at the end of the conference day.

The portfolio can be leather or vinyl with page sizes from 8”x10”-11”x14.”  It should contain no more than 10-15 representational pieces of your BEST artwork and any dummies or sketchbooks that you may wish to show. If you are bringing a book dummy, remember to attach it somehow to your portfolio. Any promotional hand-outs/art samples will be placed alongside the artist’s portfolio. Please, no boxes or fancy/three dimensional set ups at this time.

Remember NO ORIGINAL ARTWORK should be included in your portfolio. Have high-quality color copies of your art in your portfolio instead. Please label all artwork as well as the portfolio case.

You must be enrolled in the conference to participate, but you do not need to be an SCBWI member. No fee is required to participate, although participation must be confirmed.
Email the Illustrator Coordinator for confirmation in the portfolio display contest

Illustrator Opportunities

At the Art of Bookcraft Conference you can:

1) Display your portfolio in the Portfolio Showcase where your work will be seen by agents, editors and creative director.You could receive a fantastic prizes as a winner of the Showcase!

2) Have your portfolio critiqued* by Simon & Schuster's Creative Director, Laurent Linn, in order to find out what market your work is suited for and how to best grow as an illustrator.

3) Submit images for the First Pages Panel and have Laurent give his first impressions of the art.

4) Hear Laurent speak:
Creating Real Worlds with Art & Words

"Whether in illustration or text, storytelling is the foundation of all children’s literature. We’ll explore the essence of storytelling and discuss ideas and tricks that both illustrators and writers can use to add depth to the worlds they create."

5) Participate in the Illustrator Break-Out Session:
Children's Book Illustration: Inside, Outside, & Upside-Down-
"We're jumping into the nuts and bolts of what makes art for children’s books unique from any other art form -- and how to stand out from the crowd."

6) Best of all, you will get to meet and network with fellow creatives!

*Simon & Schuster's Creative Director Laurent Linn has a few portfolio critique spots available. Register soon before they disappear!

SCBWI Conference

April 9th at The Merrell Center
8am – 6pm
6301 S. Stadium Lane
Katy, Texas 77494-1057

Join us for:
•Amazing Speakers: an author-illustrator, a creative director, editors, and agents
•Joan Lowery Nixon Memorial Award finalist selections
•One-on-One Manuscript Critique sessions by speakers and local authors
•Portfolio Critiques and a Portfolio Showcase
•First Pages Panel
•Illustrator break-out session
•Book signings
•Raffle and Door prizes
•Opportunities to network
•Mexican dinner social

Check out the chapter website for update, speaker bios and more information.