Thursday, December 13, 2012

SCBWI Portfolio Review Night

I attended the SCBWI Portfolio Review Night at New York City's lovely Anthroposophical Society.

When I checked in, there were a few names in the lottery basket. My hopes were high. In a few minutes, the host was going to pull out three names which their portfolios would be reviewed by Art Direct Lucy Ruth Cummins of Simon and Schuster and Senior Designer Kerry Martin of Clarion Books.

I settled into my seat and scoped out my competition. They all seemed like decent tax paying folk. The room wasn't too full, my odds were high. The event was underway and I was riveted by Kerry and Lucy's presentations. Kerry reviewed Deb Lucke, the author illustrator who I took a class with. Next she mentioned Daniel Salimieri's work. Both his books are on my nightstand. I began to wonder if the stars were aligned for me on this night. I also heard about the style of art the publishers were interested in, some behind the scenes stories and how Lucy and Kerry work with illustrators.

Then, the names were picked. I thought I heard "Helen" but it was really "Ellen" and some other illustrators that weren't me. Tant pis, as the french say. Which means too bad but without the sense of trepidation that is associated in the English language.

Instantly, my competition became my community and it was fascinating to hear Lucy and Kerry critique the portfolios. The feedback was clear, analytical and practical. It was a lively discussion between the pickee, the publishers and the audience. Some takeaways were to:
 - Vary my color palette
 - Develop my lettering
 - Rotate the pieces in your portfolio, keep it fresh

I asked about Lucy and Kerry's pet peeves. Kerry is occasionally put off by unorganized portfolios that have work shown in landscape and portrait orientations as well as illustrators that show only a few pieces (show at least 8). Kerry mostly objects to in accurately drawn hands and anatomy (she urged us all to go to life drawing classes).

It was a great evening and I am very thankful for Bridget Casey, SCBWI NY Co-Regional Advisor, and the other the organizers of the event. I learned a good deal of information. And, if you'd like to see what I had prepared for the evening, please review a sampling of my latest portfolio here. A bientot!

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