Grand Hyatt Lobby: A Jaume Plensa sculpture is decked out as “Harry Potter”  ______________________

This weekend I’m attending the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) New York Conference 2015. Today was Day 1. Today’s Illustrator Intensive was fun! Author/illustrator Laura Vaccaro Seeger spoke first with her session “Finding Your Voice: Storytelling with Words and Pictures.”

I resonated with a lot of what she said: That she gives herself “rules” for each book that she must adhere to, that we need to love the books we’re making, and that she employs different art styles depending on what the book and text dictates. And, of course, I was right at home when she showed a photograph of a piece of wood, in which she had found a bear in the design (Blobs!). I found a dogfish:


Next there was a short Editor’s Panel with Nancy Paulsen, Neal Porter, and Christy Ottaviano (all of whom have their own imprints). They all seemed to be wonderful people, passionate about children’s books. I was especially proud when my friend Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw’s book “Same, Same, But Different” was featured by Ottaviano! Congratulations, Jenny!

Next all 200 of us were set to the task to storyboard a 32-page book! It was so quiet while everyone worked hard to finish in time. After lunch, six storyboards were shown and discussed by the above editorial board. They joked that the theme of this year’s conference was “monsters and penguins.” Here is a detail of what I worked on:


The things that came out of that talk were that “endings are always hard,” “don’t overstuff books,” and that it is “always a challenge to keep [books] from being didactic.” Also, “problems with story are an everyday thing,” “develop a thick skin,” and “be fearless.” 😀

In the afternoon we got to hear from two author/illustrators: David Ezra Stein and Hervé Tullet (aka in France as “The Prince of Preschool Books”). Both were delightful human beings! We even did a collaborative drawing exercise in Tullet’s session — “flowers”:


My favorite quote by Tullet: “I don’t want to be a painter. I want to be a painter of my books.”

Phew… I’m tired! But between 9-10pm I will go back to the ballroom and view as many portfolios as I can at the Portfolio Showcase!

So that’s it for Day 1!