Our speakers, art directors Mallory Grigg and Elice Lee, and illustrators Zeke Peña, Laurie Keller, Rahele Jomepour Bell, James Ransome, Chloe Burgett and Candace Camling are offering a total of 110 portfolio reviews.
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For great tips on putting together your portfolio view the Portfolio Field Guide PDF and check out this helpful webinar hosted by Nebraska’s webinar coordinator and author/illustrator, Sheli Peterson- What illustrators should include in their portfolios and on their websites.
Mallory is a Senior Art Director at Macmillan Children's Publishing Group where she's had the pleasure of working on Mike Curato's graphic novel, Flamer, Katy Rose Pool's Age of Darkness series, and Karamo Brown's I Am Perfectly Designed. She's also worked on a number of NYTimes bestsellers, including Natalie Portman's Fables and Emmanuel Acho's Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy. Previously, Mallory has worked at Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HMH, Alloy Entertainment, and Cider Mill Press, and has lectured at SCBWI, CBIG, the Highlights Foundation, and universities across the country. A sixth-generation Texan who's forsaken the motherland to live in Brooklyn, NY, she loves making art, cooking and baking, writing, and playing fetch with her rescue pup, Birdie.
Ellice Lee (she/her) is VP, Senior Art Director of Philomel/Viking/Flamingo Books and has been at Penguin Young Readers for 7 years and in publishing for 19. She manages a design team of 7 and designs for all ages—from board books to picture books, chapter books to YA novels, and both fiction and non-fiction. Ellice has worked with award-winning talent including Alexandra Boiger, Oliver Jeffers, Rafael Lopez, Loren Long, Le Uyen Pham, Christian Robinson, Kadir Nelson, Angela Dominguez, Ed Young, and Floyd Cooper. Titles she has worked on have appeared on the New York Times best-seller lists, such as Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor and She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton, featured in New York magazine, TIME magazine and have won Caldecott honors, Coretta Scott King awards, as well as being a finalist for the National Book Award. Ellice loves working with talent who have a compelling story to share—from the political to the social to the inane.
James E. Ransome has been honored with the 2023 Children's Literature Legacy Award by the American Library Association in recognition of his exceptional contributions to Children's Literature. With a career spanning over 33 years, James has illustrated more than 70 books. His passion for drawing was kindled in Rich Square, NC, and as a teenager, he moved to Bergenfield, NJ, before pursuing a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Ransome's remarkable talent has garnered him numerous accolades, including the prestigious Coretta Scott King Awards, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, ALA Notables, a Jane Addams Award, and NAACP Image awards. He has also showcased his artistry through murals displayed at notable locations such as the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Poughkeepsie's Adriance Memorial Library, and the Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati. In recent years, James has extended his artistic prowess to create theater posters for Washington DC's Arena Stage. Furthermore, his illustrations have been featured in the History Channel Documentary "Black Patriots: Heroes of the Civil War," narrated by James' childhood basketball idol, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He resides in New York state alongside his wife and frequent collaborator, author Lesa Cline-Ransome.
Zeke Peña is a Xicano storyteller and cartoonist from El Paso, TX. His work is a mash-up of political cartoon, border rasquache and Hip Hop culture that addresses identity, politics, ecology and social justice. He recently illustrated the NY Times Bestselling book Miles Morales Suspended: A Spider-Man Novel by Jason Reynolds. He has received several awards for his book illustrations in My Papi Has a Motorcycle (Kokila, 2019) and Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide (Getty Publications, 2017). He received a degree in Art History from the UT Austin in 2005 and is self-taught in the studio. His work is in several collections of American and Latine art including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Museum of Mexican Art, and The Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum. Zeke is currently writing and illustrating a picture book about growing up in the Chihuahuan desert.
Laurie Keller is an author and illustrator of many books including Arnie the Doughnut, The Scrambled States of America, Do Unto Otters, Open Wide: Tooth School Inside, Potato Pants! and Theodor “Seuss” Geisel Award recipient, We Are Growing! She has illustrated books for other authors including the Marty Frye Private Eye books by Janet Tashjian, I Am the Shark! and Bears Are Best! by Joan Holub and Pluto Gets the Call by Adam Rex. When Laurie isn’t making books, she enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, camping, playing with her cats and playing the banjo…not at the same time. Her cats HATE her banjo. So do her neighbors.
Rahele Jomepour Bell’s illustrations have appeared in To Change a Planet by Christina Soontornvat (2023 Green Earth Book Award) and The Treasure Box ( 2023 Bologna Illustration Exhibition award) and Our Favorite Day of the Year by A. E. Ali (Kirkus Best Picture Books of the Year), among many others. She has received a number of awards and honors for her work. Rahele loves making pictures for books, inviting children to experience freedom and peace through images and words. She is an assistant professor of illustration program at KCAI and works as a full time freelancer in her home studio called Rahele Studio.
Chloe Burgett is a children's book illustrator living in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband, Seth, and her orange cat, Pencil. Her work includes Big, Bold, Beautiful Me by Jane Yolen and Maddison Stemple-Piatt, Cooler than Lemonade by Harshita Jerath, Potatoes for Pirate Pearl by Jennifer Concepcion, and Etta Extraordinaire by Charnaie Gordon and Roda Ahmad. Her favorite books respectfully portray children as the competent, brave, and resourceful human beings they are, with words to match. Chloe loves visiting school classrooms and libraries to read her books and share the art of visual storytelling! In her spare time, Chloe enjoys gardening, playing guitar, making stop motion videos, painting, baking, and organizing. To see more of Chloe’s behind the scenes illustration work, signup via her website to join her monthly newsletter list.
Candace Camling lives in Des Moines, Iowa where she writes and creates artwork in her attic studio. She earned a BFA in illustration and digital media from Kendall College of Art & Design. For her, being an illustrator means getting to solve visual problems, learning about new topics constantly and trying to bring a little joy into the world. Her favorite things to read are non-fiction picture books, graphic novels, and anything with a hint of magic. Candace has won many awards in juried shows and contests. She has also worked with a wide variety of clients and collaborators. She has illustrated over a dozen picture books; some being through traditional means and others through indie publishing. She has written and illustrated one picture book. Candace Camling has been a member of SCBWI since 2008. She is currently the Illustrator Coordinator for the state of Iowa.