Thursday, April 18, 2013

COSCBWI April 2013 Illustrator Meeting: Postcards Part 2

This month's COSCBWI Illustrator Meeting took place at Barnes and Noble for some on-location learning.  Nikki Boetger, the COSCBWI Illustrator Coordinator, first had all the illustrators gather for a little catch-up and critique session.  If you remember from my summary of the March Illustrator Meeting, the COSCBWI illustrators have just started a multi-month postcard project.  (You can read my summary of that meeting here.)  Nikki asked us members to create two to three sketches based on our favorite fairy tales, fables, or nursery rhymes, which we were assigned to bring to the April meeting.  We shared the sketches as a group and gave each other constructive feedback.  Everyone had lovely sketches to share, and it was so great to see everyone's different illustration styles.  (I'll share my sketches in another post soon!)

After the critiques were wrapped up, Nikki led our second discussion on illustrator postcards: What do you do with them once they're complete?

Creating an illustration and printing a postcard is not very helpful for an illustrator's career if the finished product just sits around and gathers dust.  An illustrator needs to work up the courage to send their postcards out into the world!  Nikki showed us how to look up publishing house information on the copyright pages of picture books.  Located within the first few pages of every picture book, the copyright page is loaded with helpful information, from what year the book was published to the address of the publishing house.  She pointed out that often, the copyright page actually contains multiple addresses--one for each of the publishing houses' locations around the world.  And what does that mean for illustrators?  It means they can potentially send their postcards to art directors at all those different locations, even within the same overarching company!  (And spreading your eggs between more baskets is always a good thing!)

Nikki had several good tips for illustrators to consider when creating their postcard mailing list, including:

-Browse your local library or bookstore and look for trends within books that are published by the same house.  Does your style fit with theirs?  If your style is very realistic and all their work is cartoony, then they may not be the right house for your work.  (Same with bright versus pastel colors, traditional versus digital mediums, subject matter, etc.)

-Also while browsing, take note of what is on the market--especially what is selling well.  (It will be front and center in book stores.)  Will your work appeal to a young audience?  Or is your illustration style better suited to a different market, such as educational, graphic design, etc.?  (And maybe you're lucky and have a style that suits many different markets and needs!)

-Remember to research each publishing house for submission guidelines before mailing your postcard to them.  You may be instructed to send something specific, or discover that you'll need to acquire an agent first in order to get your work past the gatekeepers.

Nikki also noted that it is important to browse libraries and book stores a few times a year to see what's new or hot at the moment.  (And if you're a writer or illustrator, you're probably already doing that anyway.  Right?  Nudge, nudge.)  Seeing a shift in trends or a brand new book may just inspire you to send your postcards to new places!

Lastly, Nikki gave us our next assignment for the project: turning our sketches into postcards!  The next Illustrator Meeting will be held May 8 (location to be determined), and Nikki would like participants to start fleshing out their sketches into full pieces.  (This can be anything from adding color to painting a background, or even trying a new sketch if you don't like your current idea.)  New participants are also welcome to bring sketches and jump into the project, too!

You can find out more about COSCBWI on the group website ( and Facebook page!  I hope to see you at the next Illustrator Meeting!

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