Portfolio Palooza: Virtual Illustrator Day

Oct 28, 2023

Online event

An annual ally-day event especially for our illustrator members with a keynote speech by author and illustrator Greg Pizzoli. Registration opens June 26th

Annual Virtual Illustrator Day

Saturday, October 28, 2023

with Keynote Speaker,

Author/Illustrator, Greg Pizzoli

Agent, Sarah Dillard, Painted Words

Editor, Michele McAvoy, The Little Press

Art Director, Jim Hoover, Penguin/Random House

Registration opens on June 26, 2023.

Every year Illustrator Day is a special day dedicated to our illustration members! Whether you’re published or have just joined SCBWI, you don’t want to miss our annual event for illustrators.

Pick your level of commitment when you register. Join us for the faculty presentations, or go a step further and register for the Art Director Assignment to receive feedback on your work from Art Director Jim Hoover and Editor Michele McAvoy.

Need more? Register for a one-on-one portfolio, dummy, or manuscript critique with a publishing professional. Our faculty members are excited to meet our illustrators and help you take your art, stories, and career to the next level!

To take advantage of these opportunities, you need to register. Registration opens June 26, 2023.

SCBWI premium members: $100; registered users: $115.

No refunds after October 21, 2023.

Equity and Inclusion Scholarship Available! Please see below for details on how and when to apply.

Optional Extras

Art Director Assignment

Please read the instructions for the Art Director Assignment located at the bottom of this page. Register online. Cost is $10. Complete your illustration at home and send a JPG to Berrie at epa-ic@scbwi.org with the email subject line “Illustrator Day Art Director Assignment” by October 10th. Please name your file “Art Director Assignment_your name.” You will receive feedback from either Jim Hoover or Michele McAvoy in an open format at the meeting. (Feedback provided orally in front of all attendees.)  

One-on-One Critique:

NOTE: Please only register for (one) one-on-one critique, either one portfolio review or one manuscript/dummy critique.

Portfolio Review: Register online. SCBWI premium members: $75; registered users: $80. Portfolio critiques are 15 minutes long and will occur in a breakout room during the event. Feedback will be provided orally. 

For the portfolio review, please send six or fewer portfolio-ready illustrations/sketches as medium resolution JPG files by October 10th. Please name your files as Portfolio Review_Your name_image number (for example: Portfolio Review_Torgan-Randall_image 1). Send JPGs to Berrie at epa-ic@scbwi.org with the email subject line “Illustrator Day Portfolio Review.” Please only register for (one) one-on-one critique, either one manuscript/dummy critique or one portfolio critique.

Manuscript Critique or Dummy Critique: Register online. SCBWI premium members: $75; registered users: $80. Critiques are 15 minutes long and will occur in a breakout room during the event. Feedback will be provided orally. 

Manuscripts/dummies are due October 10th. Submission guidelines: 1″ margins all around. Double-space text. 12-pt Times New Roman font. 5-page maximum. Please include your last name and page number on every page. Save your file as Critique Faculty Last Name_Your Last Name_Title of Manuscript (for example: “Hoover_Torgan-Randall_Hurry Up Oliver.doc). Please send your file to Berrie at epa-ic@scbwi.org with the email subject line “Illustrator Day Critique.” Please only register for (one) one-on-one critique, either one manuscript/dummy critique or one portfolio critique.

What to send prior to the event:

A digital file of your completed “Art Director Assignment” if you have registered for one. For the assignment instructions, please see the Art Director Assignment at the bottom of this page.

Your manuscript or dummy if you’re registering for a one-on-one manuscript or dummy critique. See submissions guidelines above.

Your portfolio pieces if you’re registering for a one-on-one portfolio review: See submissions guidelines above.

If, after carefully reading the instructions, you still have questions, please contact Illustrator Coordinator, Berrie Torgan-Randall, at epa-ic@scbwi.org.

Meet the Faculty


Keynote Speaker, Author-Illustrator Greg Pizzoli

Greg Pizzoli is the creator of the Baloney and Friends graphic novel series, as well as the author and illustrator of the award-winning picture books The Watermelon Seed, Good Night Owl, and The Book Hog. He also writes nonfiction for kids, including the New York Times Best Illustrated title Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower and Pizza! A Slice of History. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two daughters.


Jim Hoover, Art Director, Penguin/Random House

Jim Hoover is an Art Director at Viking Children’s Books. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design in Illustration, Jim has been in publishing now for over twenty years. He speaks regularly at SCBWI and has designed and art directed hundreds of books ranging from picture books, nonfiction, to middle grade including James Yang's Geisel Award Winning Stop! Bot, Max Brallier’s #1 New York Times best-selling series The Last Kids On Earth, and Amanda Gorman's #1 New York Times Change Sings. Jim lives in New York City with his wife and son.


Sarah Dillard, Agent, Painted Words

After 20 years with Painted Words as an illustrator and author of picture books, beginner graphic novels and early chapter books. I added another feather to my cap and took on the role of agent for a growing group of emerging authors and illustrators. I am thrilled to be helping my clients develop their ideas into stories only they can tell. I am interested in stories that while specific to their creators, explore universal feelings that all children can relate to. I love stories with unexpected twist that strike to the core, and funny poignant characters who stay with you long after the book is finished.

Michele card2.jpg

Michele McAvoy, Editor, The Little Press

Michele McAvoy is a publisher, award-winning author, attorney, educator, inspirational speaker, and mom. She is the founder of The Little Press, an independent children's book publisher in New Jersey which publishes picture books through young adult. Little Press books have received rave trade reviews, been announced in Publisher's Weekly, and received book awards. The Little Press's mission is to bring new voices and new talent to children's book publishing and, in this way, seeks to publish debut or early career creatives. Michele is the creator and host of the popular kidlit podcast My Messy Muse (available on all podcast apps). As an author she has four published titles with two more on the way! (Buckingham Gets A New Shell, Cookie & Milk, The Gorilla Picked Me!, My Superhero Grandpa, Willa the Werewolf (coming 2023), Toby Undone (coming 2024)). The Little Press titles are distributed through Baker & Taylor Publisher Services and are available everywhere books are sold.

Art Director Assignment

To participate in the AD assignment you must register and pay an additional $10

Fan art! by Art Director Jim Hoover, Penguin/Random House


As an Art Director, I love when I am looking through portfolios and they have fan art in them (added bonus when they are real commissions, but not that much of an added bonus.) What fan art shows is a sense of whimsy, and what YOU are interested in. It immediately gives a sense of who you are, the sort of work you hope to do more of, and gives you the chance completely free yourself of the parameters of all that can come within the world of kids lit illustrations . .  and you get the chance to stand out from the crowd.

I have hired illustrators based solely on a piece of fan art they slipped into their portfolio. We will talk about that!

And so.

What are you a fan of? Star Wars? Me too!

Ally McBeal? Okay, that’s random.

Can you imagine you are flipping through a body of work and come across a fantastic chic fellow in a black sweater with white lightening bolts and in flawless typography: EW, DAVID. You’re gonna remember that.

Don’t like modern pop culture? Go back! As back as far as you want to go. I hear that Lord Byron was a saucy fellow.

Or a mash up! Bumblebee and Percy the tank engine drinking tea in Titmus Sheds. With . . . Dora the Explorer. And a Minion.

And so, the assignment, one finished piece of your favorite popular culture person(s), event, series, or franchise. It can literally be anything you want.

You can make it like a poster, an album, a picture book cover, a full spread (you know you want to draw the entire Seinfeld set, or Monica and Rachel’s Greenwich Village pad in front of a live studio audience).

You can also submit character sketches, any under drawings, thumbs, or supplemental material you wish to show me, the group, and to discuss.

Think about HOW you want to show whatever you end up with for your final composition. A full scene with characters interacting will be a very different viewing experience from a cover.

I realize that this assignment may end up completely departing from kids lit, but that’s okay. Because I would bet it will lead to something new, something undiscovered. A new path to spark a sense of joy in the work you have been doing.

For real world reference, think about this: Taylor Swift has a Little Golden Book.

This prompt can lead you to those sorts of commissions.

Illustrator Day Scholarship

 Illustrator Day 2023 Equity and Inclusion Scholarship

The Equity and Inclusion Team of Eastern PA SCBWI is committed to lifting the voices of traditionally underrepresented storytellers and artists (including but not limited to people of color, people with disabilities, people from the LGBTQIA+ community, Native people, and people from ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities). 

We are honored to offer a full scholarship for our virtual Illustrator Day event on October 28, 2023, to be awarded to an illustrator who self-identifies as a member of a community that is underrepresented in the field of children’s literature. The scholarship includes the full tuition plus the Art Director’s Assignment and one free portfolio or manuscript/dummy critique. 

To apply for the scholarship, please email the following with “Illustrator Day Scholarship” in the subject line to our Illustrator Coordinator, Berrie Torgan-Randall, at epa-ic@scbwi.org:

1. A brief letter of introduction explaining why you are applying for the scholarship, a little bit about your creative journey, and, to your level of comfort, explaining how you qualify or self-identify as a member of a community that is underrepresented in the field of children’s literature.

2. A link to a website that has examples of your illustrations or attach up to 6 of your illustration images (JPGs) to your email.


1. The illustration samples do not need to reflect experiences within an underrepresented or marginalized community. Our goal, and mission, is to uplift and support the creators. 

2. Please also indicate if you would only be able to participate in the program if you receive the funds from the Equity & Inclusion Team due to financial hardship.

Deadline to apply for scholarships: July 18, 2023

Scholarship applicants will be informed of the decision on or before July 25, 2023.

In the event that equally qualified applicants apply, priority may be given to an Eastern PA SCBWI member. Please note that if no applicants meet the requirements, Eastern PA SCBWI reserves the right not to award the scholarships for this event.

If you have any questions, please email the illustrator coordinator at epa-ic@scbwi.org.