NJ SCBWI conference is honestly the best conference I've been to so far. Thank you, Kathy Temean and Leeza Hernandez for persuading me to attend it. In addition to all the informative and interesting workshops and presentations that the conference offered, it was really the best conference so far for networking. We illustrators and writers really had a chance to get to know editors, art directors and agents on a personal level. I think in the age of complete information overload it's great to have an opportunity to introduce yourself to the clients and for them to see your enthusiasm and desire to work.
The highlight of the conference for me was a portfolio review with Patti Ann Harris, art director of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. So much enthusiasm and encouragement! Thank you!
It's absolutely amazing for me to think how far I've come in terms of producing new work, promoting myself, winning awards and yes, networking, two years after graduation. I remember my instructors stressing the importance of networking after graduation. The word sounded so strange and foreign and unappealing. For anybody who is naturally shy and introverted and prefers a small groups of close friends to any big scary gatherings of people they don't know, networking made me cringe a little. I didn't quite understand how to do it. The first few events I went to were painfully difficult, and I felt uneasy most of the time. However, the more I went to the events,connected to people, kept in touch with them on Facebook, went to more events, conferences,participated in workshops, exhibits, judging, traveled to New York on a pretty consistent bases, the more the word started to take shape and meaning. It wasn't full rooms of people that I didn't know anymore; it was people that I met before, who introduced me to more people. All of a sudden I was not an outsider looking in, but was part of this awesome community of artists and people who are in love with the art of children's books and art in general. We had so much in common.
I'm not the kind of person who likes to talk a lot with the people I barely know, but I'm a person who will talk to anybody who is willing to listen when on fire about a topic. For me that topic is art and illustration, and children's book illustration in particular.
So, yes NJ SCBWI is good for networking. It also has a very warm, inviting atmosphere. I did love being there.
Oh yes, I was a Runner up for 2011 NJ SCBWI Annual Conference Juried Art Show.
Winner: Lisa Falkenstern
Other Runner Up: Kelly Light
Honorable Mention: Kim Wood
You can see other artists who participated in the Art Show.
One of the criteria the judges took very seriously was the marketability of the work. I'm glad to learn that I indeed finally became marketable. I know that a lot of people love doing art for art's sake and are unwilling to listen to suggestions about how to change their work. I had my moment of after-art-school-crisis, but I realized that I love doing work for an audience. Kids do love brighter colors and funny, simpler, more straightforward scenes (I noticed that in my presentations to elementary school kids). I respond to that; I make conscious efforts to improve my work. My job as an illustrator is to respond to the text and enhance the words with my artwork.