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SCBWI for Illustrators

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evilrobot

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I just joined the scbwi this year and as an illustrator I find it quite lacking. The websites resource library was very disappointing. I have found far better resources for free surfing the web. Also there is no real community there at least that I've been able to find the message board is very very dead...I guess I was hoping to find an enthusiastic crowd of young illustrators willing to share and a more in depth assortment of resources. There are no real meetings in my area at least not within 250 miles and also the AZscbwi is really quiet almost nothing going on here I emailed them when I joined months ago to asked to be added as a member to the local website and if there were any groups they knew about meeting in my area and  never heard back from anyone. I guess I was just hoping for more. Sure I can put my illustration on the website but who knows if anyone even looks at it? 

Perhaps I'm using the resource wrong? Would love to hear feedback from other artists I've seen tons of posts by writers on how great it is. Maybe it's just a better resource for writers and not so much for an artist?
#1 - August 09, 2012, 09:36 AM
« Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 09:39 AM by evilrobot »

As with any organization, I think a lot depends on the local involvement. I am in Oklahoma, and our RA here has made a real effort to include illustrators.  As far back as I can remember, we have had an art director for every Spring conference and a portfolio show with critiques (face to face) with the art director available.  She also created a new volunteer position for someone to coordinate for illustrators, and he is an illustrator.  Because he is an illustrator, he has a better understanding of what illustrators want and need.  Also, he does or arranges for presentations at monthly schmoozes.  Admittedly, more of the schmoozes are about writing than about illustrating, but we have many more writers than illustrators in our area.  The writers also find that it is good to hear the illustrators' perspective as we can learn a lot from them.

Even though our RA really wants to provide for the illustrators, we have had some years when we had trouble getting ten to fill a workshop, and due to the expense of having an art director in, there have been discussions about whether we could afford to have an art director come for 4 or 5 people.  I'm afraid there's a bit of a chicken egg situation.  You can't afford to have events if no one shows, but no one shows if you don't have events.  So far, we've ended up with enough that it has kept going.  For the last couple of years, the art director has done a special workshop where the illustrators sent in illos on a specific text, got critiques back before the conference, then redid the illos based on critique for further discussion at the workshop.  we have had a number of people come from out of state for the illustrator session, and at least one woman told me that she was willing to travel from South Carolina because it was such a unique opportunity.

Oklahoma isn't that far from Arizona (okay New Mexico is a big state to drive through, but it could be worth it), so if we're able to do something similar in the Spring here, you might consider coming to our conference. 

You might google our "illustrator coordinator"  Jerry Bennett, to get in touch with him, and he could probably give you some thoughts on how to reach other illustrators and become involved in the illustrator community of SCBWI.  He uses the handle "The Illustrator formerly known as Jerry Bennett."

I hope you find a home in SCBWI.
#2 - August 09, 2012, 10:49 AM
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evilrobot

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Yeah, that sounds really awesome that's exactly the kind of thing I was hoping I would find...just err...a little closer but you're right it would be worth it. I'm going to my first conference here in Arizona in October. I'm really hoping I find it worth while and that there is something there for me.
#3 - August 09, 2012, 11:39 AM

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I have a friend who is a SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator in Nevada...that's closer to AZ isn't it? (Canadian here, please excuse) and I know they have a lot of amazing events. She's a member here so I'm hoping she'll chime in.
#4 - August 09, 2012, 11:44 AM
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I'm not an illustrator and have only been an SCBWI member for 3 years, but I think Stephanie is right about a lot depending on the individual region.  Our Midsouth region (KY and TN) seems to have a lot going on for illustrators.  They do a group blog, which highlights some of the activities-- http://midsouthillustrators.blogspot.com/

Maybe you could check out what other regions are doing, and then volunteer to head up some similar illustrator opportunities.  I agree that the SCBWI main forum isn't very active. You could try the SCBWI group on LinkedIn.  Your region's listserv might also be a good place to meet people in your area and to network.

Best wishes to you. I hope you'll find more that SCBWI may offer as you dig a bit.
#5 - August 09, 2012, 11:44 AM
« Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 12:05 PM by Ev »

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Evil, Nevada has a pretty amazing illustrator mentorship program that out-of-staters can apply for. Check out the Nevada SCBWI website.

The organization IS very locally-based, so the offerings vary massively by region. But remember that it's all volunteer. You could email your RA and volunteer to be the regional illustration coordinator (most, but not all, regions have one; I don't know offhand about AZ) and help improve what's going on there. Step up and organize some local gatherings, some meetings to sketch, etc. Or at least find out who your region's IC is, and contact them directly to help set up some events. At minimum, email Michelle again - it's a lot of volunteer hours and it's not that hard for things to slip through the cracks.

SCBWI Germany has a regular "sketch crawl" that they coordinate on Facebook, I believe, and folks globally are encouraged to participate virtually. Look on FB or contact the illustration coordinators whose names and contact info are found on the .org site.

The Illustration Gallery on the .org website is a pretty nice perk; I know illustrators who've gotten work from it. And the showcase and competitions at the LA and NY conferences -- NY in particular -- have resulted in a huge number of contracts for illustrators, as well as much AD attention to the work even for those who aren't such big winners.

ETA: Most regions have listservs or FB pages or both, and for some regions, the listserv is practically the most active interactions and discussions. You can generally be added even to some outside your region if yours doesn't have one, as long as you're a member. So you might also either ask your region IC about that or contact the national IC (again, look on the website) and see if they have any to recommend you join.
#6 - August 09, 2012, 01:06 PM
« Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 01:21 PM by Joni »
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Thanks so much great info and advice. I will email her again and look into the Nevada site and the Facebook page.  :grin
#7 - August 09, 2012, 01:12 PM

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Hello ER. I'm an IC for the Nevada SCBWI.

It does depend on the region . . . and the interest with the illustrators. We've worked up some quarterly projects in the past with our illustrators. Our biggest successs had around 10 participants . . . then, it really dropped the next round. As with most regions, there are more writers than artists. You may check out our Nevada Region as well. Our R.A.'s try to do workshops/Conferences in Las Vegas once a year. Last year, I had a VERY enlightening portfolio review with an Art Director at the workshop in Las Vegas.

Have you corresponded with your Regional Advisor to get the name of your Illustrator Coordinator? A kind note of interest may help a bit. As IC, when I receive an email from one of our members, it gives me an idea of where the interest may be and helps to build relationships. If your Region has a newsletter that accepts art submissions, this may also be a way to get people familiar with you and your work before a conference. Most regions are happy to find they have someone enthused about the industry and will welcome them for planning and assisting. If that is the case in your region, it can put you in direct contact with industry insiders when there is an event.

Some regions have offerings that bring in a lot of interest from other areas. Our Mentor Program comes around every 1 1/2 years and as a participating "Mentee" I learned more in that 6 months than 2 years of art school could have provided as the guidance is offered by professionals in the industry. My Mentor was Laurent Linn, AD from S&S BFYR. It was a one-on-one experience which enlightened me about the illustrator/AD process and helped improve my work. A lot of regions have embraced this idea and are offering Mentorship opportunities. Participants can be from any Region. We've had people attend from as far away as Japan.

Some regions also have quarterly art challenges . . . and a lot of them are open to all members. It may be fun to peruse the different chapters as well to see what they are doing online for their participants and if they are open to other chapters, join in.

#8 - August 09, 2012, 01:29 PM
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I went ahead and emailed our AZ chapter again and I volunteered to help out. Also from our AZ website it doesn't look like we have an IC. So, I'll see what happens. I'm going to look into some of the other states websites and see what I can find. Thanks again for all the information! I might try to throw up an unofficial art blog for my area and see if I can get some interest. Just would really like to find all the artists out there and get something going.
#9 - August 09, 2012, 02:49 PM

I'm the ARA for Utah/S. Idaho (I know, not that close, but close enough) and every February we have a great conference/workshop for illustrators.  Last year we had about 40 participants, though admittedly we think that was a fluke since one of our conference faculty taught at a nearby college and he offered extra credit to any student who attended.  :grin  If you want more info about our next conference, let me know.

But I agree with what everyone else said about reaching out to your RA and letting him/her know you're interested in more activities for illustrators.  I know that I appreciate members speaking up and sharing their suggestions for events they'd like to see in our region, at least.  It's a win/win for everyone.

Good luck, evilrobot!
#10 - August 09, 2012, 03:00 PM

Oh, I saw we cross-posted, ER. I'm glad you spoke up and volunteered.  And good luck with your plans to get things going in your area.
#11 - August 09, 2012, 03:01 PM

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 :offtopic Are you on Twitter? I'm the co-host of a weekly chat for children's book illustrators and friends. Join by following the hashtag #kidlitart every Thursday at 9PM eastern time. (Except holidays) If you go to the chat blog http://kidlitart.blogspot.com/ you can see transcripts from previous chats and blog posts with a huge number of resources others have mentioned or recommended as being helpful to them.

I know it's not SCBWI or local, but we do have a real sense of community.
#12 - August 09, 2012, 03:36 PM
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Thanks Lyon saved the hashtag to my search will be there for it tonight as long as I'm smart enough to figure the time difference out...LOL... :yoda
#13 - August 09, 2012, 03:56 PM
« Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 03:59 PM by evilrobot »

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Glad you found some answers, evilrobot. I'm a member of SCBWI (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that organization! It has taught me SO much!) and since I'm now spending winters down in Arizona, perhaps we will meet at one of their events this winter. I certainly hope so!
#14 - August 10, 2012, 02:25 AM
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Wow, that would be really great!  :grin I know for sure I'll be going in October. I'm not sure what I should bring or anything since it's my first one. I may just go with a block of water color paper and my travel kit. Or just go and see how it works. My first book should come out in October so I'll be going as a published children's illustrator. I actually got my first job off your help wanted thread, then when I put the cover for that book up on my website I ended up getting another book right away they were on a tight deadline because their illustrator quit the project. So very cool!  :chickendance
#15 - August 10, 2012, 10:36 AM
« Last Edit: August 10, 2012, 10:43 AM by evilrobot »

Here is another shout out for SCBWI Illustrator Intensives. I've been to a few with the NJSCBWI. We have two ADs and/or Art Reps come in for individual critiques and assigned project group critiques. Everyone learns something from their own projects and those of others... no matter where they are "level" wise. Recently we've had a Friday Illustrator Intensive followed by the Saturday/Sunday Conference, I believe this year one could sign up for only Friday.

I have to admit that after completing the assignment... often (not always) one will have a portfolio ready piece or something that can be photoshopped to be portfolio ready. And this is a great exercise in working with ADs. They also give presentations. This year we had one about wordless picture books and one about gesture and expression. And the ADs talk about their own houses, as well. This year we also had a famous illustrator/animator and TV character developer... yes Dan Yaccarino... give a keynote speech and a great workshop on dummies which extended into analyzing protagonists versus antagonists in picture books and picture story books.

Also, this year we had the option of working on a DPS from one of our own projects. I took advantage of that and the AD gave me fantastic advice on how to approach the whole book visually. The writing part I took away from other conferences and the internet.

We even had an well published illustrator journey down from Canada for the assignment.

And one can show off a piece in our contest and display a portfolio at the conference.

My favorite thing about this intensive is coming away with things I did not know. There is a HUGE learning curve in this field.

#16 - August 12, 2012, 05:25 AM
« Last Edit: August 12, 2012, 05:27 AM by AE »
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I'm the RA for Florida and while we're far away, I just wanted to remind you that you are not limited to events in your region. We have an illustrator intensive every June in Disney World. As far as the website, you might not be aware but SCBWI is restructuring the website. We will be going into the test mode soon and it should be unveiled around the first of the year. It will be far more responsive to your needs. All the regions have been holding off on website improvements because we will soon have our state websites folded into the larger site because it's going to have far more bells and whistles. It's going to be interactive and I think everyone will like it so much more. SCBWI is working hard to do more and more for illustrators. Arizona has a fabulous RA. Talk to her and see what the plans are for illustrators in your area. Maybe you can volunteer to help.

LindaB
#17 - August 12, 2012, 04:45 PM

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Thanks that's great news. Can't wait for the website reboot looking forward to it. I have emailed a few times over the last month the last time being last week. I will give her another week and then try again. Thanks for the news!
#18 - August 13, 2012, 08:56 AM

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Michelle was in LA at the International SCBWI conference all last week, evilrobot. I spent some time with her. She is a WONDERFUL person, even though she is extremely overloaded! Her email box is probably totally overflowing. Keep bugging her and tell her I told you to do it. LOL! We are very good friends....
#19 - August 13, 2012, 09:03 AM
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Thanks Verla I sent another email today. The Arizona chapter seems to be quite dead. Or perhaps they're are just very busy getting ready for October. No worries I'm sure someone will get back to me when they have the time.  :)
#20 - August 23, 2012, 09:43 AM

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The Nevada SCBWI will be doing a workshop in Las Vegas in the near future. It will be for writers as well. Once we get more information on the program, I can post the details. It may be a bit of a drive from where you are, but much closer than our Reno events . . . And . . .   you may get the added bonus of seeing an Elvis impersonator shopping at Walmart like my family did a couple of years ago when we visited L.V.  :eyeballs:
#21 - August 23, 2012, 10:11 AM
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Michelle got back to me today and gave me some links to groups and some other resources. There are people in Arizona after all....lol.... :)
#22 - August 28, 2012, 01:19 PM

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