PenguinArt by Kate Garchinsky

Tag: conference

exhaustion [ɪgˈzɔːstʃən] n

1. extreme tiredness; fatigue
2. the condition of being used up; consumption exhaustion of the earth’s resources
3. the act of exhausting or the state of being exhausted

I love this spot. Taken by Scott McBride.

Exhaustion isn’t always necessarily bad. There’s post-exercise exhaustion. Post {bleep} exhaustion. Post-party exhaustion. Today it’s post-SCBWI-NYC-Mid-Winter Conference exhaustion. Who else is with me?

For the past three days I sat in a crowded room and absorbed a highly charged current of creativity in the electro-magnetic New York City.

I <3 NY.

Snow dustedness outside the Grand Hyatt

The mere scale of this weekend’s conference could easily terrify and exhaust any introvert. There had to be at least 1,000 people in the main ballroom. At least. All exchanging creative energy, enthusiasm, frustrations and exhaustions through conversation, presentation, body language, laughter and sighs.

*cue long sip of Rioja*

Door prize time!

I cannot possibly share it all right now. I’m not even sure it’s possible to share it all. The mere thought exhausts me. So… how about a few highlights? After that, I’m going to search for last night’s episode of SNL because Scott and I could not hear the TV audio from our two corner stools at Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern last night. El DeBarge had stolen all the rowdy room’s ears via jukebox.


Weekend highlights (kind of in order of occurence):

Making it to NYC just in time to drop off my art. Catching up with John. John Carlin and Rubin Pfeffer’s eBook session. Conversing briefly with a Mentee without realizing who he was. Fantastic Italian dinner in NoHo. Picking up my Showcase art and seeing all 20 large postcards had been snatched. Good dark ale at McSorely’s with Scott and a table full of strangers-turned-pals from NYU law school.

Whew. Hilarious and humble luncheon keynote by the gazillion-copy-selling author of Goosebumps, R.L. Stine. Meeting an eBook entrepreneur. Book signing party minglings. Chatting with Marilyn. Snowflakes that stayed on my nose and my lashes. Perfect vegetable dumplings at Samurai Mama. Watching Eye of the Tiger through the glass wall at the bar at the Knitting Factory. Making super secret plans with Scott at Rosemary’s.

R.L. Stine receives thanks post-keynote

Sara Zarr’s keynote. Sitting next to Olivia and Nadine Bouler, sharing a bird joke before I realized who Olivia was. *Birdartiststarstruckness* Following the owls and the penguins. The humor panel including Mo Willems. Making last-minute connections with people in line at the autograph party. Talking to Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple about birding, owling. Birding and writing. More wandering around Brooklyn. Experiencing the moment. Feeling right.

The owls are everywhere, and they are very wise.

Ok. That’s all I’ve got. When I get home I’ll scan some of my notes. They’re littered with character sketches. Girls in animal masks. Penguins doing yoga. Well, trying their best. It’s not easy with those stumpy little legs.


Penguins are also wise. They love beagles, just like me.


Tag: conference

Last week I spent a good solid 5 days in New York City via Brooklyn—the longest I’ve ever stayed in the big, big city. I hadn’t planned it that way. The original purpose of the trip was the Illustrator’s Intensive hosted by the Metro NY chapter of SCBWI on Saturday, July 24—a plan that I almost canceled due to a death in the family. In the end, everything worked out rather miraculously and I was on my way there with plans to return Sunday.

The workshop consisted of a full day of mini-classes, both hands-on sessions and lectures. Due to a last-minute cancellation or two, I obtained a spot in award-winning illustrator Pat Cummings‘ class on storytelling, and an extra unplanned critique with art director and former Muppet builder, Laurent Linn. This and another critique by art rep Mela Bolinao were the first portfolio reviews I’ve had on this level in quite some time. Five years since a critique in Colorado and triple that since anything in NYC.

I was giddy to receive positive reactions from both reviewers, even some instant oooh’s and aaah’s but I wanted the nitty gritty. I had requested 100% honesty and I received it with gratitude. My style has changed and evolved for the better, all agreed. Awesome. However, showing multiple styles of illustration in a children’s trade picture book folio may imply weakness in consistency. It is paramount that an illustrator be able to deliver one, beautifully rendered style without deviation when assigned an entire picture book. So a style change, while good from a growth standpoint, does me no good until I prove it’s not a fluke but a regular way of working for me now.

In other words, I have work to do. And that’s ok.

After the workshop I confirmed two appointments for that coming Monday, and, thanks to ridiculously reasonable, flexible accommodations and a gracious host, I was able to extend my stay as needed. Then an angel secured me tickets for the sold-out Celebrate Brooklyn fundraiser with The National and Beach House in Prospect Park that Tuesday. Yes, amazing. With extra tickets I was able to invite and bring some of my newest contacts. I hope that I did not geek out as much as I suspect I did….. ok I’m rather certain I did. Restraint is quite impossible when something moves you, fills you up and just keeps spilling over, again and again and again. Some music just does that. As do some films, some works of art. I want to move people like that.

The events leading up to the show that night surely amplified my celebratory mood; with each day came a new experience; with every new connection a cobwebbed door cracked open, illuminating the brain dust before scattering it in a crosswind. I was alive. I am still alive. I like it.

Why didn’t I do this sooner?

Obligatory Hipstamatic Photos

Tag: conference

Author Denise Vega introduces her mentor, Julie Anne Peters

Author Denise Vega introduces her mentor, Julie Anne Peters

This past Saturday and Sunday I attended the RMC-SCBWI Conference at the Sheraton in Lakewood, Colorado. In attendance were a couple hundred writers and illustrators, and industry experts who gave presentations, demos and critiques to the published and to the aspiring. Rather than spread myself thin, I decided to focus on three of the presenters whose work and expertise were of particular interest to me.

Allyn Johnston, publisher of Simon & Schuster’s new imprint, Beach Lane Books, gave an excellent tandem presentation with writer/illustrator Marla Frazee. “Let’s Start at the Beginning—with the Ending!” emphasized the infusion of raw emotion within the core of a storybook—especially on the last page. I found this discussion particularly fascinating and helpful, as Allyn shared her emotion-squeezing techniques, using some of Marla’s books for examples. “But what are you reeeeally trying to say?” It’s a good question. “Ok, but what are you reeeeeeeeeeally trying to say?” Even tougher. Later I sat next to Marla during lunch, where I picked her brain a bit on successful illustration portfolios.

Another highlight of the conference was James Gurney’s plein air discussion. Mr. Gurney exposed all his secrets for painting onsite, whether it be legal (as in a paintout situation) or not so much (such as in a fine art gallery). Later in the evening I jumped at the chance to sit with him at the dinner buffet, where we discussed the similarities between birds and dinosaurs, extreme plein air painting and his February appearance at the Delaware Art Museum. I snapped a few shots while he personalized a book for one of our tablemates.

James Gurney personalizes a copy of Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara

James Gurney personalizes a copy of Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara

A T-Rex mowing the lawn.

A T-Rex mowing the lawn.

Sunday was a shorter day and included a class on public speaking, an expert panel Q&A, and a sort of shotgun critque session with Allyn and Marla. The two were asked to comment on images flashed on a projector screen for one minute a piece, which proved to be quite the challenge (pressure!). Three of my illustrations made it up on the screen, and the commentary for each was positive (thank you!).

I believe the most important bit of wisdom I pulled from the entire weekend was this: Write.