Wednesday, August 15, 2012

SCBWI 2012: An Illustrator's Perspective, Part 1

2012 SCBWI Summer Conference: An illustrator’s perspective  Part I

I am recovering from spending 4 breathless, exciting, mind-bending days - that seemed like 8 days – at the annual summer SCBWI conference. SCBWI stands for:
Society of
Writers and
Strange acronym, isn’t it? No one seems to know how to pronounce it.

I represent the ‘I’ as an illustrator – and as you can tell from my work, much of what I do is for children’s books, also known as kid lit.

This was my third conference. In 2010, my graduate advisor, Hala Swearingen, urged me to go – so I did, and it was great advice. I’ve been hooked ever since, since the kid in me is still very present and comes out when I’m illustrating anything. Even at this year’s conference, Cecilia Yung (Art director and VP of Penguin Young Readers Group) reminded us that we still have to entertain the little kid in us. But I’m jumping ahead of myself – that was from the “Illustrator Intensive,” that happened on Monday, 8/6/12.

The conference was full of info. Look for more blog posts on the conference, which you’ll relate to if you:
·      Have kids.
·      Read stories to kids.
·      Love art (especially for kids)
·      Love reading.
·      Have gone to SCBWI.
·      Are a kid at heart (that’s meeee!)

I stayed at the Hyatt, so I got a full immersion. I shared a room with Nadia Roldan, an illustrator and educator, who was a joy to share the experience with. She taught me so much about social media! Here is her blog:, and she’s having a show on August 18th that must not be missed:

From the first day on, we were flooded with information. Just the stats were interesting: There were 1,234 attendees. 411 of us are published (I am fortunate to be among this population), and 941 were known to be female and 171 were known to be male. The rest had names that couldn’t be distinguished by gender.

The conference faculty likes to introduce themselves with a single word, like this:
   “moxi” – Linda Pratt
   “Flexibility” – Cecilia Yung
   “seduce (me)” – Neal Porter
   “climax” – Eugene Yelchin
   “dream” – Tony DeTerlizzi
   “charming” – Lauren Rille
   One faculty member – a famous YA (Young Adult) writer said: “penis!!!” and ran away –loved her!

   I would say: “Overwhelmed.”   And so would most of us who attended the conference.

Enough intro…here is the good stuff:

We heard from Arthur Levine, who has his own imprint with Scholastic, who told us that timelessness is a quality he looks for, when deciding on what to publish.

So I had a new word that supplanted “overwhelmed” – which is now: “timeless” –thanks to Arthur Levine.

     Then, Tony DiTerlizzi, a bestselling author and illustrator took the stage. He won a Caldecott Honor for his book: The Spider & The Fly.
     He asked us to be aware of this, while working on a book for kids; e.g.: what does the 10-year old Tony want in a book?
      This is if you want to connect with your audience - if they're ten.
      Cecilia Yung asked us later, what does her 4-year-old self want in a picture book? This is if you want to connect with 4 year old kids...and you have to appeal to their parents who buy the books.
     We have to tap into the kids that still exist within us. If you’re not careful, every year we get older puts us a little further. You have to remember.

More later. I’m overwhelmed!! The kid in me wants to go out and play.

Look for Part II….


  1. Great post, Laura. I'm going to have to put on my tutu when I paint.

  2. Thanks for mentioning my blog and my art show!!!

  3. To know you is to love you......................