This past weekend I was at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Princeton with the SCBWI’s NJ Chapter. It was a small event by comparison to the annual SCBWI Winter and Summer conferences but it was pretty informative for both writers and illustrators interested in children’s books. Saturday was the Mentoring Picturebook workshop (with Leeza Hernandez) and Sunday was Illustrator’s Day (for writers it was Writer’s Day).
Saturday’s workshop was fun – it was my first time meeting Leeza! She really tried to cover all the basics of what the creative process is like for children’s books by offering her own experiences as examples to connect with. As wonderful as Leeza was in explaining the craft, Sunday was even more informative because it specifically targeted helping illustrators.
After signing up for this weekend with Kathy Temean (and paying the fee to attend), each attendee was emailed a “homework assignment” to work on for the mini conference. The homework was basically a manuscript provided by an art director that each attendee had to inspect, choose a scene, and interpret into a two-page spread that would be brought in and discussed on Sunday. The title was “Halloween Dude” =) very cute. So Sunday, we were divided into groups with the two art directors, in which we discussed each person’s work one by one.
This is my spread (sketch and final) – I think it came out looking pretty good! (and the art director seemed to agree):
Afterward we had a one-on-one portfolio review with the art directors and a final closing ceremony where we got prizes (yay!) from the coordinators.
Last year, I had gone to the Winter conference where there were like… 1000… attendees that all wanted to network and suck each other’s blood. This event was much calmer and intimate, allowing for a kind atmosphere where each person was given a fair chance of getting their questions answered and their work reviewed. I definitely recommend going to one of these smaller gatherings if you’re interested.