Snippets of Wisdom from the NY SCBWI Conference
In part 1 I told about some of the fabulous places I visited and people I met on my trip to New York.
It's been over a month since the conference, but today in part 2, I'm keeping my promise to share a few of the snippets of wisdom I learned at the SCBWI New York Conference.
What I learned from Tomie DePaola, children's book illustrator:
The influence of theater in Illustration.
Tomie was involved in theater from a young age. In college he had a teacher who told him that "Joining the theater is best thing you can do for your illustration. If you want to be an illustrator, you must love great theater." Tomie has really taken that to heart over the years!
Costumes can really help define a character. You have to think both in time period and personality when it comes to costumes. Also it's important to take the color of the costume into account with designing the set.
When designing scenery for your illustration, think of how you can change the mood of the scene with color and weather changes.
Character sketches are your casting call. It's important to contrast your characters with size differences and varying features. Make sure you give different characters in the scene different reactions.
What I learned from Brett Helquist, children's book illustrator:
Casting and Character Development
It is important to really spend time to learn the craft of drawing. When characters are drawn well, they are alive. Often times we see illustrations are very well rendered and beautifully composed but the characters are lifeless.
It is important to push the faces of your characters to be different and not falling into the habit of always drawing the same face.
Don't fuss with the details early on. Be messy and make mistakes. Just start drawing different characters until you find the right one. Do loose and fast drawings to develop emotions and moods. Don't be afraid to play around with shapes and sizes. Push yourself to draw things you've never drawn before.
What I learned from Paul O. Zelinski, children's book illustrator:
A Picture book makers could be making a movie. There are characters, lighting and costumes. The edge of the books makes the set. You need to stage every element of the design, including the text in each spread.
The story will tell you what the right shape is for your particular book.
Perspective is fun. Different angles can add to a picture. Horizontal lines represent rules, strictness or stillness. Diagonal lines represent chaos, or moving. Low angle and high angle can tell different stories and add to the psychology of the picture.
What I learned from Holly McGhee art agent, Arthur Levine publisher, and Lily Malcom art director:
This was a panel where these three industry professionals were critiquing work from attendees of the illustrators intensive. Here's a little bit of what they had to say:
It's good to show different expressions and emotional interactions between characters in a picture book. Show the relationships between characters. Use diversity in your characters. Show that two characters relate differently to another character or event in the story.
Show energy in your illustration, don't make your illustrations static. A curve of the neck or a turn of a hand can make a character less wooden.
Vary your values. Remember atmospheric perspective. Recede values. Lights and darks can help to focus and mood a piece. Pay attention to your color palette.
Book covers should convey one clear moment instead of trying to capture the whole book in one image.
What I learned from Laurant Lynn, art director at Simon and Schuster:
Remember You are a business. Consider making a recognizable branding. Make goals for updating your website and sending out postcards. Make a one year plan and a five year plan and keep on task.
Website. Keep it clean, simple and easy to navigate. Separate different styles. Include a bio.
Postcards. Send your best work to art directors on post cards with images on both sides. Send out a new card every 3-4 months.
Expand your horizons. Try doing different kinds of illustration and art work. Don't get pigeon holed into a certain genre.
Go to Conferences. Get out and talk to people. Ask questions.
Challenge yourself and your craft. Continually update your art. You never know who is looking at your art. Know what is essential to have in your portfolio, and what you should take out.
Challenge yourself to get better at drawing. Go to figure drawing classes. Read all the time!
Social Media. Just do it! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Blog!