The SCBWI Midsouth Conference was last weekend and I had the best time! It was the largest SCBWI conference I have ever attended -- there were 18 states represented. There was a huge variety of break-out sessions, the speakers were fun and informative, and I met a ton of new writers and illustrators. This was actually the first conference I've attended that there were so many opportunities to interact with other illustrators. The art director who spoke was generous with her time and gave thoughtful answers to all the questions asked -- and there were many.
I took two huge steps outside my comfort zone. For the first, I signed up for a critique with the art director -- who just so happens to be from Scholastic and in charge of three of their imprints -- in front of a roomful of people. Not daunting at all -- HA! The second was signing up for an illustration contest based on a prompt. All illustrators who entered used the same prompt to create completely unique artwork. Both pieces were to be displayed in the lobby of the hotel for the entire weekend. At once both exciting and terrifying.
The critique pieces were based on our choice of three different picture book texts. We were to choose a passage and illustrate it. We submitted sketches, received feedback, then completed a finished piece to be critiqued. As my turn approached during the critique, I thought my heart would beat out of my chest. I'm not great with public speaking in the first place and not only did I have to actually speak, my artwork was being dissected in front of a bunch of other illustrators, many of whom have been published multiple times. As it turns out, it was a wonderful experience! The art director was considered in her opinions and offered suggestions for improvement. The other illustrators were supportive and positive. It is definitely something I would sign up for again.
For the contest, all the illustrators who entered turned in their piece on Friday and the winner was announced Saturday afternoon. It was so fun to see how each artist interpreted the prompt! As I said in the title, I didn't win, and that's okay. Every piece was unique and so inspiring.
As promised, I am posting both pieces along with some of my initial sketches. As you can see, I went through many changes before reaching the final art. I hope you enjoy the results!
Initial sketch to final contest piece
Character sketches and initial rough sketch submitted for suggested revisions