Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Big Picture of Little Lit: SCBWI-LA Illustrators Day 2011

On November 12, a talented horde of local illustrators gathered for the Annual SCBWI-LA Illustrator’s Day in San Gabriel, where event coordinators Ken Min, Wilson Swain, and Karyn Raz had put together a stellar lineup of kidlit luminaries. Though notoriously camera-shy, Ken Min even allowed himself to be photographed for the occasion.

The day had everything. Not only were there presentations by fellow illustrators, but there were also insights into the publishing process from art directors from two different houses, as well as an editor who discussed her working relationship with writers, illustrators and art directors.

In her presentation, Charlesbridge Art Director Susan Sherman offered the perspective of someone who has been in the business since book titles were hand-painted and Xerox machines were just a pipedream.

She also demonstrated that sometimes, tried-and-true methods of composition like the Golden Mean make for the most aesthetically pleasing images.

In his presentation, Illustrator and Art Director Scott Magoon walked the audience through a typical process of creating a picture book at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt from start to finish.

One highlight of Scott Magoon's speech was the behind-the-scenes look at his early character sketches for MOSTLY MONSTERLY.

Next up, Andrea Welch, Editor at Beach Lane Books, discussed the working relationship between the imprint Beach Lane Books and the Art Directors and Designers at parent company Simon & Schuster.

In a photo tour, Andrea Welch, Editor at Beach Lane Books, gives the audience an inside look at her working space – including the view of the ocean from her office window!

She later gave us a sneak preview of RAH, RAH, RADISHES!: A VEGETABLE CHANT, by April Pulley Sayre, and shared how much work Simon & Schuster's Lauren Rille put into designing it.

Next up was a presentation from Giselle Potter.

A prolific illustrator, Ms. Potter shed light on how growing up as part of a traveling theater company has informed her illustration work.

Below is an image from THE LITTLEST GRAPE STOMPER, written by Alan Madison, illustrated by Giselle Potter.

Charlesbridge Art Director Susan Sherman and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Art Director (and Illustrator) Scott Magoon conduct the “First Impressions” panel, critiquing audience members’ submitted images live.

For those illustrators not as brave, industry professionals like Mary Petersen were on-hand to review and critique portfolios one-on-one.

Even without getting a portfolio review, face time with working professionals was practically guaranteed, given the faculty-to-attendee ratio. At least two faculty members were guaranteed to have looked at every single portfolio on display, as Andrea Welch and Scott Magoon were the judges for the "Professional's Choice" Portfolio Contest.

Speaking of contests, there were three different contests for attendees to enter. Incredibly, only 14 people entered the Annual Illustrators Contest, for which the grand prize was a full scholarship to the SCBWI Winter or Summer Conference. You could scarcely ask for better odds!

(From Left to Right): SCBWI-LA Annual Conference Scholarship Illustration Contest Grand Prize Winner John Krause, 2nd Place Winner Tanya Maiboroda, 3rd Place Winner Louisa McHugh, Professional’s Choice Portfolio Winner Jason Pruett, Professional’s Choice and People’s Choice Portfolio Winner Jennifer Gray Olson, and Promo Postcard Contest Winner Lauren Gallegos

It was a fabulous day that couldn't have happened without the time and effort of its many volunteers. Thanks, everyone! And special thanks to SCBWI-LA's Schmooze Schmizard, Rita Crayon Huang, for taking such gorgeous photos that day.

Please “like” the ID Facebook page to get news on next year’s event at - While you're there, check out the rest of Rita's photos as well as the illustrations that were displayed that day, including contest entries!

Thanks for reading, and hope to see you all next year!


  1. Thank you, Julia, for writing this wonderful recap! It's worth mentioning that Julia also wrote the captions in the SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day photo album--which include more information from the talks--so don't miss that.

    I also blogged the conference in a more personal way at rhcrayon: The Blog!

    Cheers, :)

  2. Thanks for the great recap, Julia. And thanks for reminding illustrators to participate in the scholarship contest - it's a wonderful opportunity with an unbeatable prize.

  3. Sigh...I wish I could draw.
    Illustratively Challenged

  4. Great recap of a super day. Good seeing you there, Julia!

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