Saturday, July 19, 2014

NESCBWI 2014 Recap

Award Winning Illustrators Kevin Barry and Marlo Garnsworthy

These past few months have been a whirlwind of excitement and change! One of my favorite events each year is the regional NESCBWI (New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conference, which took place in May this year. It's a great event that brings children's book industry professionals (and those aspiring to get into the children's book industry) together to learn, grow, and forge new friendships.
As always, there were a lot of great workshops this year! A few that I really enjoyed included:

  • Facial Expression and Body Language for Characters in Children's Graphic Novels and Comics by Ed Briant - An eye opening workshop on the subtleties of various facial expressions, which was further reinforced when we illustrated our fellow partner's performance of different facial expressions. Talk about embarrassing pictures!
  • First Look: Your Single Best Piece Critiqued with Ruth Sanderson and Art Directors Diane Earley and Nicole De Las Heras - It's always valuable to hear feedback from industry professionals who you may potentially market your work to.
  • Got Rhythm? Pacing the Picture Book with Illustrators/Writers Deborah Freedman and Frank Dormer - These two were hilarious! Using Molly Bang's Picture This: How Pictures Work, they had us illustrate stories using construction paper, glue, and other physical materials. Deb and Frank did a great job of reinforcing how important basic shapes and colors are to creating a strong composition, regardless of how realistic the final illustration will be.
  • "What Makes a Bestselling Picture Book?" with AJ Smith and Susan Savory - This a very loaded question but AJ and Susan did a nice job of breaking down what makes the classics...classic!
  • Now Try It Like This: Tough Love for Illustrators with Deborah Freedman - Another excellent pacing class in which Deb made us look at different ways to compose a scene and move the story forward.
  • The Picture Book Dummy for Smart Illustrators And Authors with R.W. Alley - R.W. Alley did a wonderful job of describing the picture book process, from the hiccups along the way to the final printed version, while having us practice different ways of translating a manuscript into a picture book dummy.

The crew enjoying dinner at Theodore's
Every year, NESCBWI manages to bring in an excellent keynote speaker and this year was no exception! The very talented Peter H. Reynolds gave a wonderful speech on being an artist, writer, and about passionately following your dreams and honoring your talents.

One of my favorite parts about the conference, though, is seeing old friends and making new ones. These conferences bring together tremendous talent throughout the region (and in some cases throughout the country).  It's great to sit down with fellow writers and illustrators and chat it up!

I also want to give a BIG congratulations to my friends and fellow artists who won awards at the 2014 NESCBWI Conference:
Renee Kurilla's portraits of illustrators Greg Matusic and Kevin Barry
Congratulations for the awesome recognitions! The hard work pays off!

It's hard to believe that the conference has already come and gone! I'm already looking forward to what 2015 has in store!

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