NESCBWI Conference 2011 Recap

I attended the annual New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference this past weekend. Here are some highlights, thoughts, and lessons learned from this fabulous event:

As always, the NESCBWI was full and busy. All three days of the conference sold out super quickly with 500+ people in attendance. There were five(!) keynotes by heavy-hitters like Jane Yolen, Tomie DePaola, Lin Oliver, Stephen Mooser, and Harold Underdown.

There were lots of learning experiences and I was absorbing information left and right. Here’s a few random thoughts I gathered from some of the various keynotes and workshops I attended:

    You have to create a body of work. Don’t sit and wait for your manuscript to be sold.

    When it comes to the web, you don’t have to do everything. Pick the tools, networks, and websites that work best for you and your personality, then do them well.

    The publishing industry is changing rapidly with new technology and formats, but all that really matters is that you are creating something that readers will love.

The Illustrator’s Academy

This year, I was able to co-teach one of the two Illustrator Academies. My fellow faculty included artist/writer/art director/interactive designer John Lechner, Clarion designer Kerry Martin, and my rep Nicole Tugeau of Tugeau 2 (whom I got to meet in person for the first time after 6 years of working together!).

During the workshop, we talked about web presence. We visited the websites of all the attendees and gave them critiques. There were a few class standouts – go take a look at these websites for good examples of effective web portfolios:

We tossed around a ton of advice and tips about web portfolios and promotion. Here are just a few tidbits:

    Art comes first.

    Pick what you like and do it well.

    Use the web to show your personality.

    Simpler is usually better.

Here Comes 2012!

As always, NESCBWI was a top-notch event. A special thanks to all those who were involved in organizing and putting it together.

I highly recommend you attend next year if you have any desire to get into children’s illustration. It has consistently been one of the best SCBWI conferences in the world. Mark your calendars for spring 2012!

What’s next?

Now that NESCBWI is over, I am now setting my sights on another event in June. I will be attending the Kids Read Comics Convention in Chelsea Michigan. If you are in the area, please come by for a visit! It’s free!