Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Illustrators’ Intensive




Friday, February 12, 2016                                                                                                  Back to Conference

Work Long and Prosper: Career Longevity for Illustrators

Planning, building, and sustaining your illustration career

8:30am – 8:45am             Introduction


8:45am – 9:45am             The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. William Joyce
William Joyce, Author/Illustrator interviewed by Priscilla Burris, Author/Illustrator


9:45am – 9:50am             Break


9:50am – 10:50am          How to Avoid Working in a _________ (Insert your worst-case job) Making a Living Doing What you Love

Sophie Blackall, Illustrator


10:50am – 11:00am         Break

11:00am – 12:00pm         In Full Swing: Running Building and Steering Your Career

James Ransome, Illustrator

12:00pm – 1:30pm           Lunch (on your own)


1:30pm – 2:30pm             "Life is a Journey" and Other True Cliches From quirky art kid with a dream to real-deal author/illustrator

Mike Curato, Author/Illustrator


2:30pm – 2:45pm             Break


2:45pm – 3:45pm             PANEL: WE'RE IN IT TOGETHER: How planning and collaboration can shape your  career

Agents, editors and art directors discuss different ways to shape and manage an illustrator’s career Holly McGhee, Agent, Pippin Properties; Paula Wiseman, Publisher, Paula Wiseman Books/Simon and Schuster; David Saylor, Art Director, Scholastic; Paul Zelinsky, Author/Illustrator; Moderated by Mike Curato, Author/Illustrator


3:45pm – 3:55pm             Break

3:55pm – 4:45pm             In-Class Exercise: THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES: What comes next for you?

Note: Information for the pre-conference assignment and in-class exercise will be posted online in December.


4:45pm – 5:00pm              Wrap up



Sophie Blackall is a Brooklyn-based Australian artist who has illustrated over thirty books for children, including Ruby’s Wish, Big Red Lollipop, The Baby Tree, A Fine Dessert, Finding Winnie and the New York Times bestselling series, Ivy and Bean. She has won the Ezra Jack Keats Award, the Founder’s Award from the Society of Illustrators, a Horn Book Honor, a Golden Kite Honor and two books have been New York Times Top Ten Picture Books. Learn more at

Priscilla Burris is an author/illustrator and native Californian of Hispanic descent. Creating characters and images from ink, whether in the real world, or digitally, Priscilla delights most in bringing out the element of expression, emotion, and what’s bursting to be shared from heart and soul and life! She is enthusiastically involved in the SCBWI as National Illustrator Coordinator andadvisor, as well as a member of their Board of Advisors, and the SCBWI Illustrator Committee.  Learn more about Priscilla at

Pat Cummings is the author/illustrator of over thirty-five books for young readers.  She also edited the award-winning series, Talking With Artists, which profiles prominent children's book illustrators. She teaches at Parsons and Pratt, and her children's book illustration class has a growing number of notable illustrator/authors among its graduates.  Pat serves on the SCBWI Board of Advisors as well as on the boards of the Authors Guild, the Authors League Fund, The Authors Guild Foundation, and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. She conducts a summer Children’s Book Boot Camp that brings writers and illustrators together with top editors and art directors from major publishing houses.  Learn more about Pat at

Mike Curato used to stare longingly at the shelves in the children's book section of every bookstore he walked into. While majoring in Illustration in college, he submitted his first book dummy to publishers during senior year. The journey to publishing would wind its way through ten years of falling down and getting back up. In 2012, Mike attended his first SCBWI Winter Conference where he won the Portfolio Showcase, and where his character Little Elliot was discovered. Several months later, Mike had a three-book deal with Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. The first in the series, Little Elliot, Big City debuted in August of 2014 to critical acclaim. Since then Mike has signed contracts for four other books, and has no intention of stopping. Visit Mike on Twitter @MikeCurato and at

David Diaz was awarded the 1995 Caldecott Medal for illustrating Eve Bunting’s Smokey Nights, a story about a boy’s point of view of the Los Angeles riots in 1992. He received Pura Belpré Honor Awards for Diego: Bigger Than Life by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, César: ¡Sí, Se Puede! Yes, We Can! By Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, and The Pot That Juan Built by Nancy Andrews-Goebel. Recent books include Sharing the Seasons by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Before You Came by Patricia and Emily MacLaughin, Ocean’s Child  by Christine Ford and Chris Holland, and Me Frida by Amy Novesky. 

William Joyce does a lot of stuff—films, apps, Olympic curling—but children’s books are his true bailiwick (Billy’s Booger; The Numberlys; The Man in the Moon; Nicholas St. North and The Battle of the Nightmare King; A Bean, Jack Frost; and the #1 New York Times best-selling The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which is also his Academy Award–winning short film, to name a few). He lives with his family in Shreveport, Louisiana. Check out

Laurent Linn, art director for Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, began his career as a puppet designer/builder in Jim Henson's Muppet Workshop, creating characters for various productions, including the Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island films. With Henson over a decade, he worked primarily on Sesame Street, becoming the creative director for the Sesame Street Muppets, winning an Emmy Award. Currently, at Simon & Schuster, Laurent art directs picture books, middle grade, and teen novels, including The Blessing Cup, by Patricia Polacco; All Different Now, by Angela Johnson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis; DRAW!, by Raúl Colón; Better Nate Than Ever, by Tim Federle; and the Rot & Ruin YA series by Jonathan Maberry. Laurent is on the Board of Advisors for SCBWI, and is Artistic Advisor for the annual Original Art exhibit at the Society of Illustrators in New York. He is also an author; his debut teen novel, Draw the Line, comes out in 2016. Twitter/Instagram: @LaurentLinn and

Holly McGhee is the founder of and a literary agent at Pippin Properties, Inc., a boutique literary agency based in New York City. Pippin is an integrated agency dedicated to representing some of the finest authors and artists at work today, for books, film, television, live-stage, and merchandise. She's a writer too, and her first middle grade novel, Matylda of the Bright and Tender Skin, will be published by Candlewick Press in spring 2017. You are welcome to submit to Pippin.  Please follow the instructions on the Submissions Tab at

James Ransome has been illustrating children’s books for over twenty years with almost fifty picture books, many book jackets, greeting cards and pieces in magazines.  Winner of several awards for his illustrations, including the Coretta Scott King and NAACP Image awards, James received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration from Pratt Institute in New York.  He recently became a published author with his book Gunner, Football Hero. James’ work is part of both private and public children’s book art collections and a number of commissioned murals, including three for the Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. An Assistant Professor in the Illustration Program at Syracuse University, James lives in Rhinebeck, New York, with his wife, author, Lesa Cline-Ransome and their four children. Visit:

David Saylor is vp, creative director for the Scholastic Trade Publishing Group. In 2005, he founded Scholastic’s ground-breaking graphic novel imprint, Graphix. In addition to art directing the American editions of Harry Potter, many of the picture books Saylor has art directed have won awards and honors from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Society of Illustrators, the New York Times Book Review, the Bookbinder’s Guild of New York, and the American Library Association. He was previously an art director at HarperCollins Children’s Books and Houghton Mifflin Children’s Books.

Paula Wiseman has worked in publishing for over thirty years.  She joined Simon & Schuster in 2002.  Previously she was vp and editor-in-chief at Philomel Books, a division of Putnam, vp and editorial director of Silver Whistle Books, now a division of HMH.  Paula Wiseman Books/Simon and Schuster BFYR publishes picture books, interactive novelty books and novels.  The list publishes many of the most beloved talents working in children's books today, including Matthew Van Fleet, Patricia Polacco, Stephen T. Johnson, Donna Jo Napoli, Kadir Nelson, Meghan McCarthy, Judy Sierra, C.F. Payne, and Raúl Colón.

Cecilia Yung is art director and vice president at Penguin Books for Young Readers where she oversees illustration and design for two imprints, G. P. Putnam's Sons and Nancy Paulsen Books. She is fortunate to have worked with some of the major illustrators of children’s books, but the highlight of her work is to discover and develop new talent. She is on the Board of Advisors of SCBWI, as well as a member of its Illustrators’ Committee.

Paul O. Zelinsky has illustrated thirty-odd books for children, written some of them, and been awarded numerous honors, including the Caldecott Medal for Rapunzel and three Caldecott Honors. His most widely-known book is probably the movable Wheels on the Bus; the most recent is Z is for Moose(written by Kelly Bingham), which received a star from all six star-giving trade journals. Visit