Friday, March 30, 2007


I went to the Children's Literature Conference at UVSC this week!! Hurray!!! I had so much fun, and was once again inspired and rejuvinated. It is so great to get out of the house and see that other people are having the same kind of experiences as me. It's so fun to network and make new friends. Attached is a picture of some of my Conference Groupies: Me, Virginia, Julie, Erin, and Manelle. Very fun, cool people that I admire and loved hanging out with! Of course, I wasn't smart enough to get pictures of the fabulous people that came to talk to us: Brett Helquist and Guy Francis were two of the totally inspiring illustrators that came, among some other very inpiring cool people. Have I said 'inspiring' enough in this post?

Great things that I learned:

It's totally okay to be totally and completely messy with thumbnails and character design when you are first starting the job. I need to not be afraid to be totally and completely messy!! Sometimes I try to hard not to be messy too early on.

I learned some great things from Brett Helquist. He reminded me of some very important things about compositions that I always need to think about. If you look at his work, he always has very dynamic compositions, which I LOVE! Important elements of composition are balance, motion, scale difference, contrast and fabulous perspectives. When an illustration has a good composition, it engages you! It is important not to illustrate in the totally obvious way. It's a good idea to crop in and not leave dead space. Don't lead people off the page. Always have an element to bring them back into the picture. Learn to throw out ideas that aren't working quickly. The story should be all about the faces and the gestures.

When designing a character, it is important to make charaters with individual and unique traits, but it is also important to make a character that everyone can relate to. There are physical descriptions to look for, but also deeper descriptions like things from someone's past or personality descriptions. Something that I need to work on is trying different shaped heads.

I've learned some great things about writing stories too. Joy Neaves from Front Street Books was the editor at the conference and had some great suggestions. Everything in the story needs to be something that leads to the conclusion of the story. It is important to show how the events of a story have changed the character. I also got some more great critiques on my story. I think I'm just going to have to rethink this whole thing!

I also got some great ideas for teaching kids about art and presenting at schools (when I someday get the opportunity) from Sherry Meidel.

One thing that I am always excited to hear is that when you illustrate a trade book, you get a lot more time on them than you do on these readers that always seem to come my way at the last minute.

I would love to have comments from people who went to the conference and have something to add, or people who didn't go to the conference and have something to add. Thanks all for a great time. I had a great time staying overnight in a hotel with my friend Julie, and yes, my children are still alive!


julie crews said...

I knew your kids would make it!!! Shawna, you are so sweet, and I had a blast staying overnight with you too. (Sorry if found me to be entirely too ranty and ravey- but it was so fun to share my ideas with you.)
I learned that no matter how tired -or sick- I am, I can draw and write a little everyday, and that it will matter.
I learned that times is a wastin'.
And I learned that there is something deep in me that I've got to get out. I've got to share with others.
Everyone will see me at next year's conference. (And some of you will see me before then.)

Jay said...

Great stuff here as always. I should probably go to some of these conferences you speak of. I watched the church one but, honestly, there wasn't a whole lot there about improving my art skills.