One Illustrator's Take...

One Illustrator's Take n the SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle Conference 2011 in Atlanta
by Shanda McCloskey

Before last weekend I merely called myself a mommy who was trying to be an illustrator. By the last day of the conference, I left for home calling myself an illustrator and believing it too.

It especially resonated with me when author Lindsey Leavitt spoke on writing and illustrating as one of your jobs. She spoke about respecting the time spent with your art even though there may be no money coming from it, and you may have many other responsibilities. But only when you respect your art as your job will you be moving forward, growing, and putting yourself in opportunity’s path.

Meeting E.B. Lewis was an experience I will not forget! This award-winning illustrator was funny, personal, and an excellent teacher. He explained the structure of a killer portfolio as a “post and rail” fence and preached the importance of having a distinct voice in our work. My brain was overflowing with his many tips by the end of the group critique!

I was also lucky enough to have a formal portfolio review with E. B. Lewis. This was my very first formal critique, and I was amazed at how he just glanced at my work and had specific things to say about improving my craft and finding my voice.

I must say that the jelly on my toast was the friendships I made with other illustrators and writers! I felt I belonged to an entire family of storytellers.

The conference continued with insight from Sarah Davies, Katie Carella, and Erin Clark about agents, work-for-hire opportunities, and again… voice. E. B. Lewis said it beautifully: “You become an artist when you have something to say.”

Shanda's portfolio (photograph by Sandy Fry, used with permission):

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