Tag Archives: promotion

SCBWI 2011: Stand-Out Illustrators!

This past weekend was the annual SCBWI Winter Conference, a 3-day event, packed with speakers, panels and workshops, that brings authors and illustrators to Midtown from across the country.  I’ve always wanted to go, and finally had the chance to attend the Illustrators’ Intensive by begging offering to help out a bit.

Friday was all about children’s books and new media (more on that later), but one of the most fun perks was getting to see the showcase of illustrators that was set up for judging and industry viewing.  As I tried to have fun and not to get overwhelmed by the VIP cocktails and networking, I managed to grab a few cards of my favorites.

I was pleased, but not surprised, that Leeza Hernandez (above) won the Grand Prize at the showcase. She’s super talented, and has a friendly, approachable personality to boot. But I’ve been following her work for some time, so while she deserves much congratulations, she doesn’t count on my list of “new discoveries” . . .

1. Andrea Offermann /  It was so lovely to meet German illustrator Andrea Offermann, whose rich, detailed porfolio is breathtaking.  Her work is perfect for older, middle-grade readers – book covers, black and white interiors, graphic novels.  I won’t be surprised to see her art all over the shelves!

2. You Byun / Aww, how sweet are those characters’ faces?  And look at the lush range of texture!  And warmth of light!  When it comes to creating worlds, You Byun has it down.  And I’m seriously gushing over every single one.

3. Greg Pizzoli / Okay, this guy’s silkscreen prints are just too freaking cool. I’ve got major jealousy looking at his 32-page promotional zine, C’mon, Go!, and the hand-bound editions of his books are fine art, but could so easily be commercially reproduced.  His website is most effective too, with a fun, in-depth look at his process.

4. R.S. Posnak / We designers made a beeline for R.S.’s Oliver Jeffers-esque line work and letterpress business cards (we’re too predictable).  Turns out, she’s also a designer, and has an online portfolio with a healthy mix of sleek commerical projects (for adults) and vintage curios.  Hello, animal dioramas!

5. Brian Gerrity / On the other end of the spectrum, Brian Gerrity’s work is made for kids.  Fun, bubbly characters, with a smooth digital look, are perfect for little ones.  And what a whimsical sense of pattern… you can look back at the picture again and again, and still find something new.

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The 10 Best Things You Can Do For Your Illustrations

an old promo of mine . . . I’m siiiinging in the rain! © 2009

Last week, one of my most entertaining publishing blog reads, the INTERN, posted a piece called “The Ten Best Things You Can Do For Your Manuscript“.  There are some similarities between the teeming slush piles of art and word, but a lot of the process is actually very different.  So, artists, let’s hear it for your list:

The Ten Best Things You Can Do For Your Illustrations

1.  Find your style

Not to get all “follow your bliss” from the beginning, but there is nothing more important than being amazing at your own personal style – the way that characters and actions come to you naturally. Trying to show an art director that you can do every style just leaves them unsure of how you would approach a project. Instead, let them come to you for what you do best!

2.  Hang out with other artists

You’ll be motivated by association, gain more constructive critiques than your grandma telling you how “darling” your illustrations are, and share insights on the industry as you get rich and famous – together.

3.  Be in three places at once

Don’t just focus on one opportunity.  Share your art everywhere – your local coffee shop, an illustration annual, your friend’s neighbor’s band’s show’s posters… everywhere you can.  You never know when the right person might see your work!

4.  Draw in stories

In children’s books, it’s not enough to create one epic piece.  You have to be able to keep the characters animated and flowing, with the same level of quality, for 6 months and 32 pages of your life. Whenever you begin a new character, draw them in at least 3-5 complete scenes, with different expressions, so an art director has everything they need to know to sign you.  A dummy book of sketches (with at least 2 finished pieces!) is even better.

5.  Bring your portfolio to the local bookstore

No, don’t show it to the clerk eyeing you behind their Buddy Holly glasses!  Put your portfolio under your arm and, literally, put it side by side with art that is actually being published.  Are your stylized cartoons as naturally clever as Mo Willems‘?  Or do you think your colored-pencil portraits of your dogs just aren’t as action-packed and engaging as the rest of the picture books about puppies?  Be honest with yourself!

6.  Target your audience

There is no point soliciting 100 different imprints if the imprint wouldn’t publish the kind of work that you do. Do research on what kind of books are already out there, and be specific to whom you submit. Tell them why, briefly, in your cover letter why your book would be perfect for them.

7.   Read submission guidelines carefully

For instance, at our imprint (but not for others, mind), if a submission does not include a self-addressed, stamped envelope, it is almost guaranteed to get thrown away. Give them the opportunity to send the dummy back to you, and at least you could get helpful feedback from the rejection letter.

8.  Present your work like a graphic designer

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to submit a dummy that is clean and neatly printed and presented (just order a paperback from Lulu or even make your own). A designer is more likely to pass along a book that has a great design than one that was garish, messy, or worst of all, had typos!  Are you amazing at acrylics but can’t typeset to save your life?  Coerce a designer-friend to help you out!

9.  Drop off your portfolio

Postcards are a great start to reach a lot of contacts, and you’re not even a real person these days without an online presence.  On the flip side, repeatedly cold-calling designers and insisting you won’t hang up until you’re published is the fastest way to get on their imaginary blacklist.  But with the flood of emails and cards, what will get you that extra 3 minutes of their time to actually have someone look at your work?  I hesitate to say this for fear of finding 15 portfolios on my desk next week, but setting up a time for a portfolio drop-off, if the publisher still does that kind of thing, might be the trick to get a timely and informed response from someone in publishing.

10.   Never stop learning to draw

Even the most accomplished illustrators still spend their free time practicing their craft, learning the latest technique and lounging around the Society’s Sketch Nights.  Don’t get discouraged because your art isn’t yet the awe of every art director in town, and don’t get complacent when it is!  Just keep drawing, okay?

photo credit – this artist/Pratt alum’s  postcard (not shown, too lazy to scan) is my favorite ever, and has sat in my cube since before my time.  But check out Evah Fan’s awesome 3-D work!