As you might have guessed from my Twitter handle (@annawritedraw) and license plate, writing and drawing have always been a large part of my life. Recently, portfolios full of my old artwork came home to me. Here are a few for #TBT. These are from the early 2000s:
My favorite idea (sketch #4) did not make the cut, but looking back, it wasn’t the best fit.
Hope you are all having a fine day. The sun is breaking through the clouds here in Maine and for Orson (click on the image to make it larger). Check out my blog post at Creative Bookings about using #GivingTuesday to help fund author and illustrator visits. “November Round-up and #GivingTuesday”
More bear sketching today. This new work is bringing me such joy. I don’t know if it is just the change of project, or that it’s drawing, or that it is bringing me back to my first love, picture books, or if it is that I’m steeped in bears (they are SO DARN CUTE) but the work makes me light of spirit. Also, I spend much less time online when I’m at my drawing desk and away from the computer. Amen!
Last night while Son #2 worked on his homework, I played with my new brush pen. You dip it in water or ink, turn the back end, and it sucks the liquid into a vial within the pen. Then just paint away. I was totally engrossed in creating these cuties when I startled to find Son #2 at my shoulder. “You look so happy!” he said.
Note to self: Draw more. Worry less.
On Wednesday I had the pleasure of Dean Lunt’s company. Dean is the Publisher of Islandport Press which publishes titles for Children and Young Adults such as:
Dean and I had a great conversation about the ever-changing publishing industry, book marketing in general, and personal marketing for illustrators specifically.
Dean says that a marketing postcard from a job seeking illustrator every six months is the most useful tool for the publisher. To make your marketing postcard effective it needs to meet the following criteria:
- Feature a fresh new image each time you send a publisher a marketing postcard.
- Include your contact information on the postcard.
- Include the link to your online portfolio.
- Categorize your online portfolio by media, type, or subject (eg: collage v. pen and ink, color v. black & white, children’s v. editorial) for ease of navigation.
- Update your website. The “News” section should have recent, relevant info. Images should be fresh.
- Size pictures for quick viewing. A lower resolution makes for smaller file sizes and 72 DPI is all that is needed to look good on a computer screen.
If you get the call and sign on to a project, be aware that one doesn’t stop being a children’s book illustrator when the artwork is delivered. Dean is always looking for illustrators who have the energy for school visits, signing, and other marketing events.
The English class that I teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays lets out just in time for me to turn on Maine Public Radio and catch Maine Calling with Keith Shortall. Yesterday’s program put a spring in my step as Keith had author illustrators Scott Nash, Chris Van Dusen, and Kirkus reviewer Vicky Smith discussing writing and illustrating for children, and the publishing industry. Click here for the archived show.
I pulled over and called in immediately to remind the listeners that over 500 SCBWI members in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, and over 1,800 members in New England take the art, craft and business of children’s books seriously. Since then, I’ve had a few emails and wanted to post a few quick answers to FAQ’s and links for anyone who might be curious about SCBWI, New England SCBWI, critiques, professional development, etc. Feel free to leave me comments below with other questions and I’ll try to answer them in a timely way.
If you are just getting started, you can find the top 10 FAQ’s about writing and publishing for children and Young Adults, how to format your manuscript, info about publishers, and an editor’s point of view here.
If you are more experienced and are looking for further professional development you can try various adult or continuing ed programs including MECA. For more intense and academic study take a look at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Hamline, Lesley, or Simmons. RISD, and Hollins are a couple of the children’s book illustration certificate programs. Google MFA Children’s Illustration if that is what you want.
If you are a teacher or librarian and want to hire an author or illustrator to present their book and teach about the craft of writing or illustrating, I suggest the SCBWI speaker’s bureau. You can search by state, or look for specific people. The New England region also has a database called Connections.
If you live in the New England area and want to find out more about the New England region of SCBWI, visit our website. We are an active region with many events. Coming up is our annual spring conference. One of the largest regional conferences, New England welcomes more than 500 participants and 100 faculty to Springfield, MA for three days of workshops and speakers May 305, 2013. The focus this year is craft and we are featuring PRO tracks for those who are published. Registration will begin in February. Watch the website for more info.
The SCBWI community is especially welcoming and supportive and that is only the beginning. Discounts to professional development conferences and workshops, publications, critique groups, and a whole series of grants and awards are benefits of membership. Check it out. There’s a link at the bottom of the page to actually register as a member.
SCBWI critique groups are only available to members. To see if there is already a group in your New England area you can click on your state here. There is a two part post with Stacy Mozer (our Crit group organizer) here, and here.
There are some writers and illustrators who are not interested in waiting for or supporting traditional publishing and so they choose the self-publishing route. There are plenty of print-on-demand, and epub companies. I’m not qualified to recommend one company over another. Do be aware that some companies are Vanity Presses (often they contact you) who make promises of publication with hidden costs. Educate yourself about publishers and agents by doing a quick check on Predators and Editors.
If you are taking your first steps on your journey to become a writer or illustrator, I have two messages. One: Welcome. If you are here you probably can’t stop yourself. You write and draw because you are compelled. The journey is long and comes with many pitfalls and no promises. You are in good company. Two: If this is not your heart’s desire, turn back now. The journey is long and comes with many pitfalls and no promises.
There’s a wonderful post today over at Publishing Crawl called 3 Ways To Improve Your Critique Using Conflict Communication by Amie Kaufman. When you take a break from writing or drawing, click on over.
I have personal experience with this both on the critiquer and critiqued side of things and have found that as Ms. Kaufman posits, it is so important for both people to understand what the person being critiqued wants out of the review and feedback.
Hoping that everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving filled with enough food, family and friends. Here’s one of my illustrations from the portfolio archives for the occasion.