This weekend was my first time attending the SCBWI Florida regional conference in Miami. What a great experience!! Discussing books, stories, art, and philosophies for living a creative life definitely stoked my passion for illustration. Overall, I feel refreshed and re-focused about my personal vision and career path. There were many highlights over the three days, but here are my top 10 take-aways from the conference:
1. Smaller is better. As much as I love the National conference every summer in LA, I felt it was easier for me to connect with members and panelists more at the smaller regional conference. Plus, the amount of information given was manageable. Information overload is a common problem at the LA conference. But not this one...it was just right. All the concepts and follow-up tasks are doable!
2. Getting to hang out with writers. Writers inspire me!!! They create the content that I love to read and illustrate! They know how to express ideas eloquently with words! Writers and illustrators are kindred spirits and it felt good to be in their company because we share the same vision and values. Lin Oliver put it best:
- We are optimistic about the future
- We believe in the great potential of young people
- We have active imaginations
- We have love in our hearts
3. E.B. Lewis' sharing Everyday Creativity and Celebrate What's Right with the World. These 20-minute documentaries changed my life. In fact I think I'll need to post a separate blog on this topic....
4. Helping to monitor the critiques. I was invited to be a back-up helping hand for the super intense, emotionally charged manuscripts and portfolio critiques. I loved observing everyone (writers & editors mostly) as they discussed intently.
5. Of course I bought books!
- Gus Gets Scared by Frank Remkiewicz
- Jack's Garden by Henry Cole
- A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole
- Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
- Where do Giggles Come From? by Diane Muldrow
- The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli
- Katy Duck Makes a Friend, illustrated by Henry Cole. (Had to get this, c'mon).
6. The Mad Hatter's Ball. People in the children's book industry love life and know how to have fun. Practically everyone dressed up in an Alice in Wonderland costume and hit the dance floor. A handful of us dueled it out until the very end (editors and agents included!)
7. Visiting Books and Books. The conference kick-off reception was held at Books and Books' beautiful outdoor courtyard. Such a charming place!
8. The Art of Friendship workshop with Tamar Brazis (editor at Abrams). We read several picture books and analyzed how the character development, relationship details, dialogue and conflict resolution allowed for sensitive and believable friendships between fictional characters. Then we did a few writing exercise and shared our ideas. I learned a lot here!
9. Socializing and networking. Always good to practice listening and generating conversation.
10. Driving to and through Miami. My adventurous drive was 3 hours 45 minutes along the Gulf coast, then across the Everglades and on over to the big city. Travel has always been my creative fuel, and this drive was pretty inspiring.
Here is a sampling from my conference sketchbook: