Hands down, this was our most successful SCBWI Southern Breeze (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi) Illustrators' Day yet! Although we could have fit more people into the wonderful Decatur Library auditorium, we actually sold out since we can only handle so many portfolios. (Be sure to sign up quickly next year.) We also had four amazing speakers thanks to a generous grant from SCBWI national:
Kelly Barrales-Saylor, Editorial Director for Albert Whitman & Company
R. Gregory Christie, illustrator and multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner
Peter Brown, New York Times best-selling author/illustrator
Michael Allen Austin, illustrator and mentor
For other regions looking for speakers, each of them was top notch, adding new perspectives to the various aspects of illustration. I can't recommend them highly enough!
Kelly talked about the business side of things.
Greg talked about thinking outside the box in a rough economy, and Peter talked about developing your personal illustration style.
I moderated a panel discussion with Michael, Greg, and Kelly talking about the state of the industry, the future of picture books, copyright, advertising oneself, etc.
Meanwhile, portfolios were displayed in another room for local Art Directors, Gallery owners, Art Professors and attendees to view and collect samples. Such as Rick Lovell (Art Professor at SCAD) and Lauren Patton (owner of ZaPow! Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina). She mentioned the importance of having an email address on all handouts - postcards, bookmarks, and business cards.
Here is Taesun Bourroughs with Rick Lovell in the background.
It led to a well-rounded day hitting on almost all key points, and culminated in our ever-popular portfolio reviews.
This year we used an Elmo overhead projector so the speakers could view the portfolio in front of them while the audience was able to see the same thing projected onto a screen behind the speakers. It gave context for what was being discussed and offered a leisurely opportunity to view everybody's work.
(Click on the photo to see it larger.)
Reviews were only 2 minutes long (with 30 portfolios, this took over an hour), but it was enough time to see how quickly an overall feel for a portfolio can be gained and evaluated. Stickies were given to each speaker to place on the piece they thought was most successful in each portfolio. This turned out to be a lot of fun as the audience cheered for their favorites. Overall, using the Elmo was much better than the previous method of everybody standing and moving from portfolio to portfolio. It was a big hit.
Lots of announcements were made about our upcoming illustrator events. Kathleen Bradshaw (Asst. Illustrator Coordinator East - pictured right) talked about our annual Gallery Show and Illustration Contest. Sarah Frances Hardy (Asst. Illustrator Coordinator West) talked about our Video Studio Tours. Prescott Hill (Newsletter Designer) talked about submitting illustrations for our Southern Breeze newsletter. Michael Austin talked about our upcoming sketch crawls. Donna Brazzell (Executive Director of the DeKalb Library Foundation) was especially interested in the portfolios and announced the opportunity of customized library cards as future fund-raisers for the library. And I talked about our Scholarship Fund, and next year's Illustrators' Day, which will be held on February 22nd, 2013, butting up against our annual Springmingle conference. (Please note the change in date and venue.)
Book sales were brisk and Greg and Peter ended up signing tons. Thanks to Little Shop of Stories for making sales possible.
Turns out they hung out when Greg still lived in New York.
Here's Lori Nichols getting a photo with Peter.
I hope you can get a feel for the day and how friendly all our speakers were from the photos.
To gain feedback, I asked everybody to write on the back of their name tags why they signed up for Illustrators' Day. We then had a drawing for a signed limited edition print by R. Gregory Christie. This was the piece he did for the New York subway system currently on display.
Comments on the day mentioned extreme appreciation for Michael Austin's generous mentorship skills. Here are the participants with their finished pieces. (Click the image to see a larger version.) CLICK HERE to read a great wrap up of one mentee's experience by Shanda McCloskey.
Inspiration from being with peers and the chance to network was also a big reason people came. Truly, lunch (catered by Badda Bing) ended up being a wonderful gathering time.
Here are (please email me!), Laurie Sikorowski, and Nancy Gessner.
Here are Greg Christie, Kristen Applebee, and Prescott Hill.
Here are Robyn Hood Black, Jo Kittinger, Greg Christie, me (Elizabeth Dulemba), Peter Brown, and Kristen Applebee.
The portfolio reviews were probably the number one reason people came, then learning about the industry, and the quality of faculty (which was phenomenal).
For me, it is an absolute pleasure to make this valuable experience possible for my friends and colleagues - the highlight of my year. And I certainly don't do it alone. Illustrators' Day wouldn't be possible without our amazing volunteers. It takes a village to put on an event like this, and we have an amazingly supportive group of people who helped with every aspect - from donating enormous amounts of their valuable time, to showing up early for heavy lifting. Thanks to all of you for making our event such a dynamic gathering.
Of course, I also enjoy the fall-apart afterwards, where the speakers and key volunteers go somewhere to reflect on the day. This year we caught up with Leonard Marcus who was in town for the Decatur Book Festival. He joined us for mint juleps at Leon's Full Service. Not pictured is Joe Davich of the Georgia Center for the Book, who has been the most amazing host for the Decatur Library - we absolutely could not have had such a successful Illustrators' Day without him. (Going on five years now!)
That's Leonard, me, Peter, and my hubbie, Stan.
Here's Kelly with her hubbie, Chris.
If you got some good photos from the day - please send them to me at elizabethdulemba at mac dot com so I can include them in this post.
Thanks again to everybody - I look forward to next year's Illustrators' Day!
- Elizabeth O. Dulemba, Illustrator Coordinator
Photos by Jo Kittinger (Regional Advisor) and Prescott Hill (Newsletter Designer).