A couple weeks ago I attended the summer conference for the Ozark Writers and Illustrators for Children (OWAIC). I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I walked away from the event with a lot of valuable information, advice and encouragement. The first evening I was privileged to schmooze over dinner with a table full of amazing writers and illustrators including Louise Jackson, Vicki Grove and Cheryl Harness. They were witty, powerful, and dripping with sarcasm. Having heard all of them speak before, I knew that I would be in for a treat the next day… and I wasn’t disappointed.
The conference itself was extremely motivating. The day was filled with casual discussion on current trends in publishing, unique approaches to marketing your work, and ways to refine your craft. Although a lot of the discussion was geared toward the writers in the room, I found that a lot of the information was still pertinent to my approach as an illustrator. In the end we are all telling a story… whether through words or through pictures.
During the event, I was able to show my portfolio to several interested attendees and received some great advice from several of the illustrators who were there. They had an art show in which the artists were allowed to show a few of their best pieces. Ultimately, my illustration for “Lessons” of the dancing Lion and Hippo was selected for their “Best of Show” award. I was honored and greatly encouraged by my work being chosen. I tend to be too hard on myself and it really gave me a boost of confidence to know that others see value in what I am doing. I can only hope that the Art Directors feel so positive about my work once I send out my initial portfolio samples!
I met so many talented women over those two days and I look forward to seeing all of them at future events. At one point, I was speaking with Cheryl, and she encouraged me to attend events in other states. Recharged by the event, I began searching through the SCBWI Regional Events listing when I got home… and decided to sign up for my first out-of-state conference. In three weeks I will be attending the Southern Breeze SCBWI Illustrator’s Day in Decautur, GA. I am SOOOO excited!
I originally signed up for the event just to have another conference to go to. Seeing the lineup of speakers, I knew they would be sharing some great information… and I hoped it would be one more way to get some advice about my portfolio and to make a few contacts. However, I signed up just in time to be able to participate in a mentorship with illustrator Michael Austin too. I will be working on some sketches to send to him as soon as I stop procrastinating tonight… and I look forward to the advice he will be able to offer on my process.
My wildly talented friend Jenny Cimino will also be attending the conference with me (she’s moving to Atlanta at the end of this month) and I am looking forward to spending some time with her. We were illustration majors at CMSU together and I unfortunately haven’t seen her in the 9 years since (despite periodic Facebook conversations). That weekend is also the Decautur Book Festival… and my birthday weekend. I can hardly wait!!!
I have plans to attend the Kansas and Missouri SCBWI conferences later this fall as well. Hopefully all this exposure will help me stay on track with my illustration “resolution”. I haven’t been making the progress that I originally intended. However, I feel like I’ve made more progress this year than I have in the past 10… that has to count for something… right?
Better get to sketching…