My friend J.K. mentioned “You haven’t posted anything in a while!” and I realized how rude I was being. :)
Over the last couple weeks, I was working on an illustration for an WPA SCBWI event called “Illustrator Day”. Our fearless Illustrator Coordinator Nora Thompson worked with Simon and Schuster Art Director Laurent Linn, to give the participating illustrators a great experience to get feedback on an assignment. Laurent would share a manuscript and we needed to sketch a 2 page spread. He’d give us notes on our sketches and then we’d finish them up using his notes for feedback. On the day of the even each artist got a 20 minute critique with the group. We all learned a lot from each other and the day as a whole was a positive experience.
Here is my sketch and “final” piece.
Over the last year, I’ve been fortunate enough to receive notes from 3 art directors. Giuseppe Castellano from Penguin occasionally offers a tweet critique an invites illustrators to submit work. Imagine getting a critique in less than 140 characters! It’s surprisingly effective! I signed up for a portfolio review last november at the WPA SCBWI annual conference with Kristen Nobles from Candlewick, when she looked at my whole portfolio and gave me notes. And finally, this Illustrator Day gave me a chance to hear what Laurent Linn thought of my work, which was exciting because he saw not just the final, but the sketch.
Looking at the feedback from all three, I noticed some themes in regards to linework, staging and color application. It may sound like “Autumn, that’s the whole drawing!” but it’s not. There’s a lot in my work that is good, and I found that in each case, I agreed with their comments. It was just a case that I knew there was something I wasn’t happy with, and they had the experience and knowledge to say “THIS is the thing that is keeping you from leveling up.” Now I’m excited to go back and take another try at some pieces I’m not 100% happy about.
If you are interested in becoming a children’s book illustrator, I really do recommend joining SCBWI. The national conferences are expensive, but there are a LOT of really great regional events, like the one I was at Saturday! You’re not limited to your region either, if there’s a great event going on in a different region, you can go there too! I’m not saying that you’re going to get a job at an event, but there is a LOT of a great learning opportunities and a chance to leap forward in your artistic journey :)