Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New Jersey SCBWI Conference 2014 Recap

Hello everyone!  I just came back from a long, but wonderful weekend at the New Jersey SCBWI conference (NJSCBWI).  SCBWI is the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, which is a great organization!


I attended this conference with my friend Clare Cannon. She went to the conference last year and kept saying how wonderful it was. I was immediately convinced I needed to go this year.

First I have to say - what a wonderful weekend.  The committee that put the conference together did a fabulous job!  Everything was so organized and everyone was so friendly and helpful.

My journey started long before coming to the conference with preparations.  I needed to update my portfolio, create postcards, business cards, and make a piece for the juried art show.  I also made a second book dummy just before the conference as well (blog post about this dummy coming soon)!

My promo postcards

The big auditorium

The conference started with check in, followed by a welcome ceremony in the auditorium and a keynote speaker, Floyd Cooper.

Floyd Cooper giving a demonstration during his keynote

The rest of the day was filled with workshops of our choosing.  There were over eight going on at once and we chose which ones best suited our needs.  One of the great things about the conference is that all the meals were included (snacks too!) and that at meals I could choose where I sat.  The tables either have a writer, illustrator, editor, or art director.  This was very nice because I could have a meal with someone in the business and ask them questions.  Great for connections as well!

My folder and name badge I received at check in

The workshops were very helpful and I learned so much.  Some of the topics of the workshops I went to were "How to Pay the Bills as an Illustrator", "What an Art Director and Agent Desire to See From Illustrators", "Making Your Picture Book More Marketable", "Examining the Space Between Text and Art", and more!  I learned many new things as well as had reinforcements on things I already knew.

Having fun at the conference

There also was a juried art show with the theme "Down the Shore".  Below is the piece I entered.  It was so wonderful to see such a variety of interpretations of the theme in so many different art styles.  One of the reasons why I love children's books so much is that the art is so diverse.  I also had my portfolio included in the portfolio showcase.

Many people told me that they liked my piece- always nice to hear!

I also decided to pay extra money to meet one-on-one with an art director to review my portfolio.  I found that it was very helpful and received great feedback (and a wonderful connection).

My portfolio I had in the portfolio showcase and had the art director review

Other things at the conference:
  • There was a book fair on Saturday where books were available for purchase and authors and illustrators were signing them. 
  • There also was a fun cocktail hour.  
  • Saturday night there even was a hilarious comedian named Robin Fox!  
  • We started off Sunday with a presentation on the state of the children's book market - it looks like things are improving and going strong! 
  • There also was keynote speech at the closing by the author Rachel Vail. 
My conference experience is illustrator based; there were other things going on for writers including peer critiques, pitches and more.
Robin Fox the comedian - I laughed so much!

What's next?  In a week or two I will receive contact and submission information from editors and publishers on how to submit my work.  By attending this conference I am able to obtain contact information and submission information exclusive to conference attendees.  I'm very excited to send my work out!

I also received valuable information on how to improve my portfolio and present myself as an illustrator and author/illustrator.  It also was great to learn about resources available to me such as helpful blogs (example: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com), and connecting with fellow illustrators.

Some of the wonderful postcards I picked up at the conference

Top Takeaways from the Conference and Tips for Attendees:
  • Be friendly and introduce yourself, everyone is very welcoming and supportive
  • Ask questions during the workshops
  • If you are an illustrator enter BOTH the juried art show and the portfolio showcase. You never know who will see your work and it's best to show in both places.
  • If you have a one-on-one session come prepared with questions. It was helpful for me to learn what to improve upon and how to better present myself.
  • Come rested in comfortable shoes and with a notebook.  There is much information throughout the whole weekend.  At times it can seem overwhelming.  Remember to pace yourself.  Also many people thought the building was cold, so a sweater would be good to bring as well.
  • Bring extra money for buying books- many authors and illustrators will be there to sign them.
  • For me it was worth it to stay two nights at the hotel, Friday night before the conference and Saturday as well.  I felt refreshed and ready to go Saturday morning by staying the night before and not having to travel far.
  • Always have a business card or postcard to hand out.
  • Social media! I was on Twitter during the conference tweeting about various things. At least three times people walked up to me and asked if I was the person tweeting about the conference- and I was!  It also was a great easy way to thank the presenters for their workshops.
I had a great time at the New Jersey conference and hope to go next year. I'm also really excited for the New York conference in January!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

SURTEX 2014 Recap

Wow! I can't believe it's been a while since my last blog post.  I've been very busy creating lots of artwork (including another book dummy! I'll post about that soon).

Three weeks ago I attended SURTEX and the National Stationery Show (ICFF briefly too).  It was a great experience!  I was so lucky to help out the wonderful and talented Rosie Simons at her booth.
Rosie is such a great designer and I love her use of pattern and colors! She is also such a sweet, wonderful, cheerful person. We had a great time together.


I had walked SURTEX, the NSS and ICFF twice before, but this was my first time helping out with an exhibitor's booth.  It was such an eye opening experience in the best way possible.  I have long dreamed of having my own SURTEX booth, but felt too lost.  I didn't know where to begin, or how to best show my work, or even how much work I needed to show.  I learned so much about how to prepare my work, what type of work to show, how to go about the more business side of things, and much more! Many MANY thanks to Rosie for teaching me so much!

Some of the things I learned:
  • Have patterns and images to license AND sell.  Some buyers are only interested in buying outright.
  • Wear your most comfortable shoes (your feet will still hurt, but trust me one year I went for heels, bad idea)
  • Speak up, smile and be friendly - you never know who you will meet!
  • It's great if you have some physical products to show along with patterns in books.
  • It's important to draw people into your booth - the walls can only show so much.
  • Have a plan for writing down and keeping track of people's information. Do much more than just collect a business card.
  • The food in the Javits center is expensive.  The two days I was there I walked out to a Halal truck (a true NYC experience) and brought a sandwich from Subway. Also bring water and snacks.
  • I found that putting my RISD alumni pin and Make Art That Sells icon badge on my exhibitor badge opened many doors for me.  People automatically had something to talk to me about. Also wearing something that matches your booth is a conversation starter.
  • Have help - this cannot be overstated. You will need someone to help set up your booth, take it down, and be there when you need to take a restroom break. Also sometimes more than one client will come to a booth at once.
  • Mingle with your fellow designers at the happy hour - it was so much fun meeting people from all over the world and hearing about their design experiences.
  • Take advantage of the SURTEX workshops if there is one that interests you. There is invaluable information to learn and you get to ask questions to leaders in the industry (such as the president of Papyrus greeting cards!)
  • Take breaks, especially if you are walking the show.  There is so much visual information you can feel like your head is spinning.  Take some time off in the cafe or down by the windows to decompress once in a while.



 After helping out Rosie with her booth I have the confidence that I can have my own booth too.  It was the perfect bridge for me from being a walker of the show to possibly being an exhibitor next year.  Here is a photo Rosie took of me while we were eating a yummy fruit snack with packaging that matched my dress.



This year was also the first year I participated in SURTEX's workshops.  I took the stationery and greeting card workshop since I have my own Etsy store and have been licensing designs on Open Me (a greeting card and ecard company).
It was very helpful to learn more about the greeting card business, especially on how to submit work to companies, as well as trends, pricing, and more!


I was also able to meet some of my online classmates from courses I have taken- Lilla Rogers Make Art That Sells Course and The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design.  Some of my classmates had booths and it was great to meet them in real life and see their wonderful work.

Everyone was so nice and supportive.  It was such a great experience being even more part of this surface pattern and design community.  I also made a few new connections at the National Stationery Show too! The whole experience has inspired me in numerous ways and who knows, maybe you'll see me exhibiting next year! (I sure hope so!)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Book Dummy Completed!

I am proud to announce that I have finished my children's book dummy!

These color images are from my dummy titled Will You Be My Friend? Much time and effort went into this project and I'm so proud of it.  There were many revisions, but it was exciting to see how the story improved with every change. 

Receiving feedback from my critique group was very helpful and helped me grow as an author and illustrator - I highly recommend it!

The dummy is available upon request.

Here are some pages from my dummy and some final color pieces (You can see some changes from the dummy drawings to the final drawings - can you spot them?).  Note the piece with the flower is not sequential with the other two images.







My complete book dummy - 32 pages!


My next steps include reaching out to publishers and attending the New Jersey Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators conference in June.  I'm really excited!  I love children's books!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Society6 Products Review

I have ordered quite a few items from Society6 and want to share my opinions about their products.

So far I have ordered a canvas bag, a mug, a phone case, and a shirt.  Here are my photos and more information about each product.



This bag is so much larger than I was expecting!  I didn't fathom how large 18" x 18" is when I ordered it.  I can fit so much in here and think it's a good size for shopping or groceries.  It's a great bag with quality printing but some of the super small text on the bag turned out a bit fuzzier than I thought it would.  It is super sturdy and I love that it is washable.  My friends were impressed with the quality as well.  This design is available here.



This mug is great!  I love that the image goes from the top to the bottom of the mug with hardly any border.  The image is super crisp as well.  Others have commented that the print job is very good.  The size is very good and it holds a sizable amount of liquid.  My only complaint is that the first mug I received arrived completely broken.  I contacted Society6's customer support and a new one was sent to me at no charge.  This design is available here.



I love my phone case!  The colors are super vibrant and exactly match my pattern.  The case also protects my phone.  I have dropped it a few times from waist level and my phone has been protected (it has always landed on a corner). The only thing I was slightly disappointed about is that on the sides of the case the image seems to be stretched a bit (but I think that is due to the manufacturing process).  I'm still very happy with my case and hope to order another one in one of my patterns soon.  This design is available here.




I love my shirt!  The design turned out just exactly how I wanted it to.  I love how large I could have the image on the shirt.  The detail in the print quality is really crisp and slightly raised above the shirt.  This shirt is also super comfortable. This design is available here.

I hope to review more Society6 items in the future. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Children's Book Class at SVA

Since January I've been taking a children's book class at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City.  It is a great class taught by Monica Wellington.

I've been learning so much about the children's book industry and wanted to share my projects and process.

For our first assignment I decided to have my story take place in the American Southwest with Armadillo wanting to make some nachos.

Initial rough sketches 

Final sketch

Color study

Color study

Final

For our next assignment I chose to illustrate January with dinosaurs!

Initial rough sketches

Final sketch

Final color


For the next assignment our focus was on character.  I chose a Hawaiian sea turtle named Kauila. 

Character sketches

Initial rough sketch

First attempt

Final

Our next set of assignments is to work on a book dummy!  I already have my idea set in place and cannot wait to get started.  I'll be posting my progress here so check back soon!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Tropical Fusion Blog Hop Featuring my Samba Time! Collection

Welcome! You are probably visiting me from Pattern Jots by Maike Thoma. We are both participating in the 2014 Tropical Fusion Blog Hop.


For those of you who are new here, the 2014 Tropical Fusion Blog Hop is a collection of surface and pattern designers who have all completed a specific prompt.  Our assignment was to create a pattern inspired by the theme "tropical fusion" (Brazilian theme) and use the 2014 Pantone color of the year, Radiant Orchid.  Each participant showcases their design on their blog and links it from the previous person to the next person, so it's one big loop.

My design is inspired by the musicians during Rio's Carnival celebration.  I wanted to use native animals to Brazil and add some other Brazilian elements to the pattern as well.





Thanks for stopping by! Make sure you visit Nina May Design's blog next! If you have only just found our blog hop head on over to Groovity's blog where you can start from the beginning.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Valentines!

I recently launched my valentines card collection in my Etsy store.  I wanted to pick themes that would be fun and put a smile on the recipient's face.

Here are my collections: Dinosaur, Ocean, Woodland, and Dogs!  Which card is your favorite?













Monday, December 16, 2013

Feature on LCI Paper's Design Blog

LCI Paper recently featured an interview with me on their design blog.   I use LCI Paper's 100% recycled card stock for the greeting cards I create for my Etsy shop.  I am very honored to be featured on their site and love the wonderful photos they took of my cards.  Read the article to hear about my inspirations, paper choice, and more!



The article can be read here.  Also you should check out LCI's wonderful papers and envelopes.
Thank you LCI paper!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Friday Phrase

Today's Friday Phrase is something to remember this Black Friday - "Take It Slow".

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Make Art That Sells (MATS) Part A Blog Hop/ MATS Review

As you can tell from previous posts I took the class Make Art That Sells Part A.  A few days after the class was over someone suggested doing a blog hop where every participant talks about their experience with the course.

Here is an overview of the projects I worked on:

Week One: Bolt Fabric:
This week our assignment was to create a bolt fabric collection using berries and vintage pyrex.  I challenged myself by embracing my love of cute things.  In this piece also wanted to play around with fun colors.  Previously I have been shy of creating cute items because I have a background in fine arts and creating simple cute things seems to contradict my education. I learned this week that I should listen to what my heart says and that it's just fine to create cute items - our teacher told us that cute things sell!

Week Two: Home Decor 
This week I wanted to do a more realistic approach to the assignment.  I thought home decor would be a good market for this approach. The assignment was to create a two to four plate collection about bromeliads.  I decided to include the scientific names of the plants as well.  I learned this week that I am comfortable doing both realistic and stylized cute items for decorative arts.  If I were to approach this assignment again I might go in a more vector/graphic direction.

Week Three: Children's Books
This week we were illustrate a cover for the Russian folktale The Language of the Birds.  I decided to change the setting of the story to being in New Zealand and have the birds be kiwi birds.  This week I challenged myself by going against the original setting of the story and also changing some character designs halfway through.


Week Four: Wall Art
This week our assignment was to create a piece of wall art for a 25-45 year old female that had at least one word and one flower.  After starting with one project I decided to go in a completely different direction.  I don't know why I chose a cactus, but it felt right.  I also found a great quote to accompany this desert plant. 


Week Five: Gift
This week was my biggest breakthrough in the class.  I challenged myself to work in a style and color palette that I'm not used to.  I'm also used to creating work that is bold and simple with not much detail.  Our assignment this week was to create a hyper lush zipper case (that was a reflection).  I started out creating simple objects and kept adding more and more details (which was something new for me).  It was a challenge, but I was pleasantly surprised with the final piece.  It is busy, but I think I balanced it out with some non-cluttered spaces. 




My overall impression:

I learned much from this course.  The assignments pushed me to try new approaches and subject material I never would have chosen for myself.  It felt good to try new things and stretch my artistic skills.  The most important thing I learned from this course was about how important it is to create well designed, detailed icons.  The community that also took this class is such a great resource as well.  We have a group on Facebook where we can ask each other questions, support each other, and more.  I would recommend this class if you're interested in learning more about how to market your artwork for various markets.



Today I'm sharing the blog hop with Eva Marion Seyffarth of Eva Twinkles Design and Illustration.

I'm so happy to share my blog hop day with Eva!  Her work is so great!  I love her use of color and texture.  I also love the process work that she does - from doodling to stamping and even paper cutting! It all inspires her beautiful final product.

Here is Eva's piece from week two of the course - love that texture and color!

You can find Eva's blog here: http://eva-marion-seyffarth.blogspot.de/
Her website is here: http://eva-twinkles.de/



Here is a list of everyone else participating in the blog hop:

Angie Sandy - http://www.angiesandy.com/blog
Katie Wood - http://www.katiewoodillustrations.blogspot.co.uk/
Anne Waters - http://annewatersdesign.com/blog/
Aisha Khan - www.aishaandherwork.blogspot.com
Linda Tordoff  - www.paintlovestudio.blogspot.co.uk
Martina Lenhardt - www.ma-len.blogspot.com
Melissa Doran - www.goradiate.ie
Jo Chambers - www.studiolegohead.blogspot.co.uk
Son Atwal - www.applekaur.com/blog
Bari J. - http://www.barij.typepad.com
Eva Marion Seyffarth - www.eva-marion-seyffarth.blogspot.de
Rachael Schafer - www.rachaelschaferdesigns.com
Danielle McDonald - http://reddogandjude.blogspot.com.au/
Renske de Kinkelder - www.renskedekinkelder.com
Jordan Vinograd Kim - http://www.foundandrewound.com/blog/
Emma Schonenbergh - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Emma-Schonenberg/175939639128136
Aileen Tu - http://aileentu.com/blog/
Sarah Ehlinger -  www.verysarie.com
Jen Burbridge -  www.madebyburbs.co.uk
Carolina Coto - www.carolinacotoart.com
Anna Whitford - www.rosanna-rossi.co.uk
Mary Tanana - http://www.barij.typepad.com
Jennifer Wambach - http://jennartdesigns.blogspot.com
Victoria Johnson - http://victoriajohnsondesignblog.blogspot.it
Nic Squirrell - http://nicsquirrell.blogspot.com
Melinda Hopkirk - www.crouchriverstudio.com
Jennifer Appel - http://www.jaillustration.com/
Wendy Brightbill - http://www.agirlandherbrush.wordpress.com
Andrea van Dalen - http://dreamkeeperfae.blogspot.nl/
Ohn Mar Win - http://illustrationsouljourney.blogspot.co.uk/
Jill Byers - http://jillbyers.blogspot.com
Sarah Gager - www.sarahgager.com
Angie Sandy - http://www.angiesandy.com/blog
Diane Neukirch - http://dianeneukirch.blogspot.com
Larisa Hernandez - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Larisa-Hern├índez/166215440228435
Kathy Weller - http://www.wellerwishes.blogspot.com
Kim Fleming -
Lisa Deighan - http://www.lisadeighan.com
Deb Trevitt - http://www.debtrevitt.com/blog/
Tara Lilly - http://taralillystudio.blogspot.com
Nicole Piar - http://www.ghostkittendesign.blogspot.com/
Stacy Peterson - http://stacypeterson.net/blog
Emily Dyer - http://www.emilydyer.com/blog
Antje MO (Martens-Oberwelland) - http://antje.art.com