SCBWI

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2021 Winter Conference Portfolio Showcase Grand Prize Winners

by Priscilla Burris

 

The SCBWI 2021 Winter Conference Portfolio Showcase Judges selected two Grand Prize Award Winners, Xin Li and Leanne Hatch. We congratulate Xin and Leanne, and are excited for each of them, as they move forward in their in children’s book illustration careers.  We thought it would be wonderful to share some insights they kindly shared when posed with our questions…

 

Xin Li

 

What keeps you inspired as an illustrator?

I guess a bit of everything: books I read, art I have consumed, conversations I have had with friends and fellow artists, life I have lived, and places I have called home (I moved around quite a bit). 

 

How do you choose which illustrations to include in your portfolio?

I first select images I had fun making. I believe the audience can sense that somehow. Then I narrow down the selection by asking myself “how interesting is the concept?”, and “how well the concept has been executed?”. Then finally, I ask my friends (both artist friends and non-artists friends) to weigh in, with the question “which images make you want to know what happens next?”.

In addition, I also keep a checklist of things I want to include in my portfolio to showcase my skillset, such as: variety of colour palette, variety of settings, variety of emotion, having more than 2 characters interacting, etc…

 

What lessons learned, or advice, would you like to share with other illustrators?

I have had so many good art instructors and mentors during the last couple years. My biggest lesson was about the attitude towards making art. Once I realised that every piece of artwork I am making is essentially an experiment, then failure or success become less relevant. The important thing is to trust my own instinct and keep going.      

 

 

Leanne Hatch

 

What keeps you inspired as an illustrator?

 I’m inspired by unexpected color combinations, vintage picture book illustrations, and the work of other artists I admire. Spending time with my creative friends and critique group also keeps me motivated. We inspire each other!

 

How do you choose which illustrations to include in your portfolio?

 I try to include a little of everything; strong narratives, variety in perspectives, use of color, and diverse characters to name a few. I make sure my personal art style is consistent and reflected in each piece and I show only what I think is my best work. I am my biggest critic and find that if I love something I created, most likely, others will appreciate it too. 

 

What lessons learned, or advice, would you like to share with other illustrators?

 Draw often. Keep your portfolio fresh and up to date. Don’t throw anything away. Come back to it later and you might be surprised by what comes out of it. Experiment. Show your work as much as possible so everyone can enjoy it. Take advantage of the opportunities SCBWI has to offer. And when you get deep into a project, remember to take a lot of breaks and stretch. I learned this the hard way when I developed adhesive capsulitis last year. It took months of physical therapy to get my range of motion back!