Yesterday was a great day for RISD-CE Children’s Book Illustrators! Collectively, we won more than half of the poster contest awards – evidence of how wonderful our professors are and what a talented group of students are in the program!
This year’s poster contest theme was “Reimaging a Classic” – we were asked to redesign the cover of a book we felt was a milestone in children’s literature.
(Cross-posted with our RISD group blog Drawing Together)
The 22nd Annual Illustrator’s Exhibit at R. Michelson Galleries will be up November 1, 2011 – January 31, 2012. I fortunate to have a poster in this exhibit, which I am very excited about. I hope to see you at the opening reception!
Opening Reception: November 6 from 4:30–6:30pm
Gallery Location: 132 Main Street, Northampton, MA 01060
To see photos of the opening night reception, visit Seth Kaye Photography’s public photo album. Can you find me, feeding my baby while admiring the paintings?
“What’s wrong with me? Why are all the other seedlings bigger than me? Am I ever going to grow that big? What if everyone else grows but me?”
Conferences are strange moments outside of everyday space and time. In artificially lit, air-conditioned hotel ballrooms you sit and take in more information than you can possibly absorb. You swing wildly between bored, exhilarated, overwhelmed, inspired, eager to get to work, and intimidated by those around you.
I just returned from my third New England Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (NESCBWI) conference. I felt (and still feel) all of the above, and more. Last year my poster won the prestigious R. Michaelson Gallery Emerging Artist Award. The poster actually sold a few weeks ago, my first gallery sale since 1995. This year I didn’t manage to get my poster done in time, and my portfolio looked like I had slapped it together at midnight (which I had.) I’ve had a year of getting more and more frustrated with the work I am producing – when I manage to produce anything. I have many incomplete projects on my desk and desktop.
So I was in exactly the right place-outside-of-time to hear Sara Zarr’s talk on living the creative life, interspersed with readings from Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel. She read “The Garden”, a story in which Toad plants seeds and then yells “Now seeds, start growing!” at them. I had a flash of insight into my creative troubles.
Of course nothing I make will be as good as that poster, as long as what I am trying to make “something as good as that poster.” How dull is that as a goal? My work needs to change and grow organically and trying to force it to live up to something else is as damaging creatively as comparing my rate of progress to that of classmates, colleagues, or other conference-goers.
I’m not the same person I was when I made that poster – I’ve had all sorts of life experiences since then, including having a baby. I would never yell “Grow faster!” at my baby, so why am I doing it to myself?
So my big take-home message from this year’s conference is not how to produce an ebook or the best way to approach a book packager (which I learned.) It is to take a step back, trust that the seeds are there, and stop trying so hard. Have fun. Play with paint. And pencils, and old newspapers, and sticks. And whatever else inspires me at the moment. And just don’t worry about how professional my portfolio looks or how marketable something is. Play.
The seeds will grow. When? “Soon Toad, soon.”
The NEWSCBWI conference theme this year is “Celebrating Milestones.” For the poster conference, illustrators have been asked to redesign the cover of a classic work of children’s literature. I chose one of my childhood favorites, a book I still re-read as an adult occasionally –The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
I’m experimenting more with the combination of digital artwork and fabric – this piece was done entirely in Photoshop.
I am honored that this cover redesign was chosen by the staff of R. Michelson Galleries to be included in the 22nd Annual Illustrator’s Exhibit from November 1, 2011 – January 31, 2012. To be included in a show featuring Jules Feiffer is truly amazing.
I am also thankful to my fellow SCBWI members who voted for me in the poster contest. I am so honored to win third place in the People’s Choice category and first in the Unpublished category. Thank you, everyone!