I attended the SCBWI Winter Conference this weekend. It started this Friday, when I submitted my illustration portfolio for their showcase. My only goal for the conference was for people to take my postcards, and I didn’t reach that modest goal. Apparently 350 people looked at the showcase, but just 37 took my postcard. There may be 3 reasons for this: they saw my work but didn’t like it, they didn’t see my work or skipped it, and the last reason which I find unlikely is that most of the people were not in the business of working with illustrators. Considering I paid over $400 to be at the conference and show my work, I hope it wasn’t because they skipped my portfolio or that very few art directors and reps attended it. That would mean I completely wasted my money…which leaves us with the idea that maybe my artwork isn’t meant for children’s books.
While I was pondering the question, I did notice that a lot of the artwork I saw at the conference was either cartoony or “primitive”. I wasn’t born in America, I wasn’t raised with Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak, so I don’t have an affinity for that type of artwork. The children’s book artists who inspire me lived over a 100 years ago. Guys, like Arthur Rackham and N.C Wyeth who drew “realistic” pictures, and that’s what I strive for. While I could always get better at drawing, the fact is I’ll never draw cartoony or abstract pictures, so am I wasting my time marketing myself to the children’s publishing world?
Overall I didn’t get too much out of the conference. The panelists are very good public speakers and seemed nice. They also served free food. But I didn’t learn anything new to improve either my marketing or illustrative skills. Not to mention that the bulk of the presentations were more specific to writers than illustrators.