My first SCBWI conference offered so much information! I met great writers and illustrators from all over the world, and overall had a great time. The speakers at the conference and the illustrator’s intensive all had a similar message for us: Draw everyday, hone your craft, and above all, make sure you have a good story.
The illustrator’s intensive offered both great speakers, but also a practical exercise. We were given two hours to create a full set of storyboard sketches by building a narrative from one of our sketches we brought with us. It was a fun, but very challenging exercise. They chose six or so storyboards to use for critique, offering advice and encouragement that applied to us all.
Some things I learned:
- Designers have a place in children’s books. This was my biggest concern . . . and it was completely unfounded. Plenty of children’s book illustrators have strong design backgrounds. That gives me great encouragement.
- I love drawing and writing children’s books. Since the conference focused on both aspects of children’s books, I found myself writing notes and frameworks for stories as well as drawing. I’m partial to concept books (the designer in me I guess!)
- Keep your stories short, but satisfying. As a parent of three, I say “yes please”! There’s nothing quite like a short but sweet story when it’s time to put the little ones to bed. Like many things, less is more.
- I still have a lot work to do. I have plenty to practice in honing my craft. On my list are: moving beyond illustrating the words and instead create visual storytelling, allowing for more action/reaction in my scenes, and continuing to develop my illustration style.
- We need more diverse children’s books. This breakout session really got me thinking. It focused mainly on creating lead characters that are diverse, and successful techniques that can be used. It didn’t apply to picture books as much, but I continue to brainstorm ways that I can address it. My kids are biracial. I’d love to figure out a way to contribute.
So now I’m off to work on #4. Thanks again SCBWI!
Photo © 2015 Michael Hopkins