I attended the Brazos Valley SCBWI conference this past weekend in College Station. The speakers were illustrator, E. B. Lewis, author Kathi Appelt, editor Karen Boss, agent Jennifer Soloway, and author Donna Cooner. I missed Donna Cooner because I was in the second session of E.B. Lewis's presentation. All the speakers I heard were packed with truly helpful information. E.B Lewis shared a DVD called Everyday Creativity and told us about another one called Celebrate What's Right With The World. Both are on You Tube and are narrated by Dewitt Jones, a former National Geographic photographer. So good.
The main takeaways for me from the conference:
1. Care deeply about your work and the people your work is for.
2. Illustration and writing are storytelling. Both are treated in much the same way, starting with first drafts, on to revising and revising, taking things down to the essential story. Every scene is moving the story forward and emotionally engaging.
3. For portfolios, in every illustration, show a narrative, action, emotion. setting.
4. Take every picture and look at it from a new way, push harder and don't just settle with the first few ideas. This holds true in both writing and illustration.
5. Hook your reader into the story right away.
6. Think about what you are trying to say and do it in the best way possible. Make it a truly engaging story both in words and in pictures.
Perhaps none of those things are new, but they were said in a different way and shown in a new way that helped me catch hold of them. I guess that was a good object lesson for writing and illustrating a story.
E.B Lewis also does mentoring classes on line. He showed us some of his student's work and the improvements they have made. I do not know the cost, but it looks really awesome, like he works his students really hard.