Okay, I've been back from the conference for about a week and a half now, so I figured it was about time I do a little recap of my experience at the big conference. First off, I'm really excited that I was able to go. It's one of those "realizing your goals" moments. I have said that was a goal for years, so it feels good to know I was there & it felt right.
I went to the illustrator's intensive on Friday, which I completely recommend if you're an illustrator. Paul Zelinsky spoke to us and showed examples of his amazing work, Lisa Desimini did the same but also had given us an assignment (see the Snow White illustration I posted earlier). It was very interesting to see everyone's take on the subject. Lots of talent in that room, folks! Kevin Hawkes also gave us an assignment after his presentation. It involved lots of paper & glue, and not at all what I normally use to create art (except for art in my preschool class). The whole intensive really helped me realize I need to stretch out of my comfort zone more often and try new ways to tackle my illustrations.
I was pretty excited about the portfolio viewing Friday night. I have no idea how many or which art directors or publishing folks came by to see our work. Afterward we were able to view the portfolios too. Again, lots of talent to be seen! I heard some illustrators say this made them feel a little overwhelmed by the volume of illustrators trying to make it in this business, but I don't feel that way. I understand there are many styles, interests, and even attitudes that will determine what illustrator is used. Perserverance, and a positive attitude goes a long way.
Saturday & Sunday had a good mix of authors and illustrators speaking to us. I absolutely love Libba Bray, so she was a great speaker to have at the start on Saturday. That gal sure has spunk!! Amazing writer, and super terrific speaker!! I can't wait to get some time to read her latest book, "Going Bovine" (which she autographed for me on Sunday. YES!) The other author that I couldn't get enough of was Jacqueline Woodson. She recited some of her works to us, (she didn't read them, she knew the words by heart and really had a lot of feeling when she spoke) - not a dry eye in the house. I felt like I had witnessed a divine intervention. My first thought was, "Damn! This girl is a writer!!" No doubt about it, she is blessed! Both left me so inspired to sit down and write, even though I know I am lightyears away from having talent like they have. Don't knock the inspiration, though!
Laurent Linn from Simon & Schuester had some great examples of illustrations that set the tone of the book, and carried the reader along. Peter Sis had some really fun stories about his life as an illustrator, and I learned more about good page turns with Allyn Johnston from Beach Lane Books. However, my favorite illustrator presentation was Jim Benton. What a hilarious guy!!! He is the genius behind the Happy Bunny art licensing character, and also the writer/illustrator of "Frannie K. Stein" books. I love his work, and was thoroughly entertained, and, yes, once again inspired to draw!! I doodled out some art licensing ideas on my flight back home!
Someone once told me that the national conference is something that we should all do once, but that the local conferences are just as good and less expensive. I definitely agree that the local conferences I've been to have been really great, and way less expensive, but I don't think they are fair to compare with a national conference. This was 2 1/2 days PACKED FULL of information and inspiration. Opportunities to see illustrator's portfolios from all over the US (and maybe even the world), to learn, network, and grow as illustrators. I really loved every moment of it, and plan on attending every chance I can. Everyone did a great job putting this conference together.