+ Illustrator friends! This is always one of the best parts of the conference. Jill Bergman, Tina Kugler and I shared a room and I had such a great time hanging out with them! I also got to meet fellow agency buddies, Joyce Wan and Leeza Hernandez, which was really fun. (Be sure to click on their names to see their amazing work!).
(L-R, Me, Tina, and Jill at the Hippie Hop)
+ My friend, Lisa Anchin, received one of the 5 SCBWI mentorships. Go Lisa!!!!
+ Tony DiTerlizzi! Its pretty much one of the coolest things ever to get to hear one of your favorite illustrators talk about their work. Getting to see the book dummy for Arthur Spiderwicks Field Guide was definitely a highlight and I loved hearing about the process behind The Search for Wondla (Have you read this? You should read this. Its great!)
I really tried to be cool while Tony was signing my copy of Wondla, but unfortunately, any coolness that I had mustered while waiting in line turned into sweaty palmed rambling when I was actually face to face with one of my favorite book makers. Oh well. Being cool has never been one of my strengths. And I'm pretty sure that Mr. DiTerlizzi had enough cool for the both of us.
+ Jon Klassen! I have a ginormous art crush on Jon Klassen. (Have you seen Extra Yarn and I Want My Hat Back?) Jon has such an amazing understanding of visual storytelling. If you ever have a chance to hear Jon Klassen speak, you should take it. He's uber talented and very articulate!
+ There were so many great keynote speeches. Deborah Underwood (author of The Quiet Book) talked about the importance of daydreaming and of giving ourselves permission to take the time to daydream (because that's where our ideas are born). Ruta Sepetys, Bryan Collier, Arthur Levine and Patrica MacLachlan were also favorites.
+ Melissa Sweet was really wonderful. She talked about the importance of artistic play. Everyday for a year Ms. Sweet did a 3" x 3" art experiment. She used paint or collage or whatever it was that that particular day lead her to. How freeing to do a little art something just for fun! Just to experiment and make mistakes and stretch your self!
+ The Hippie Hop and Hippie Flash Mob! Woot!
Just like in years past, the conference was a whirlwind of information and inspiration. There was lots of wonderful advice that I'm excited to try to incorporate into my work. Overall, the conference was really amazing! But, new this year, I left feeling sort of deflated.
On the last evening of the conference, my husband and I had a long telephone conversation in which we decided that upon returning home, I would look for a "day job"... Not because I wanted to give up on being an illustrator, but because we'd like to save up some money so we can buy a new house someday soon, and because I felt like I needed some time to do some experimenting with paint and pens without the pressure of trying to make money with my illustrations.
Two days later......
My agent called.
And now, I'm so very happy to share that I have my very first official book deal! Just when my hope was beginning to wane in a big way, things took a turn. Phew! Giant sigh of relief, followed by lots of nervous excitement as I begin work on a heavily illustrated chapter book which will be published by Disney-Hyperion and will come out in 2014.
So, good riddance you nasty feelings of deflation, you! Things are looking up!!
(Tina Kugler, Me, and really excited illustrator, Leeza Hernandez. Er... I think this might be one of my favorite photos from the conference.)