Tuesday, May 14, 2013

COSCBWI May 2013 Illustrator Meeting: Postcards Part III

This month's COSCBWI Illustrator meeting focused on the group postcard project.  (As you may remember, COSCBWI members are currently working on a multi-month project creating illustrator postcards.  You can read more about that here and here.)   The meeting started out with group critiques on work-in-process postcards, and it was so fun to see everyone's progress!

After the critiques, I led a short discussion relaying information I'd learned at last weekend's big SCBWI "Wild Wild Midwest" Conference.  While at the conference, I was fortunate to attend a breakout session led by Simon & Schuster art director, Laurent Linn, and Wernick & Pratt agent, Linda Pratt.  The session was called "Illustration First Look" and involved quick critiques of illustrations submitted by attendees.  Both Linn and Pratt critiqued the pieces as if they just received them as a submission, noting what could be improved and what would make them look at an artist's website for further consideration.

This tied in perfectly to the COSCBWI postcard project, since postcards are what art directors, agents, and other professions initially use to evaluate an illustrator's work.  (And hopefully entice them to check out an artist's website!)  I shared some of Linn's and Pratt's generous feedback and tips for members to consider as they continue working on their postcards.  Some of these tips included:

-Make sure your illustration tells a story and isn't just a "portrait."  Industry professionals don't want to see that you can draw a good kangaroo--they want to know that you can convey this specific kangaroo's story in a compelling way.

-Pay close attention to the eyes in your piece.  Just as people make eye contact when they meet, the eyes of your characters will draw your viewer into an illustration.  Eyes can also influence whether an illustrator's technique and style is suited more for trade or mass market books, which can help you send your work to the appropriate places.

-Remember to think about the flow and page turn of a book.  You want your illustration's action to inspire readers to turn the page.  Showing your ability to do this in a postcard proves to professionals that you have a good understanding of illustrative direction.

-Don't send a piece that only shows the back of your characters' heads.  Doing so makes them question how comfortable you are drawing those oh-so-important expressions.  (You may want a piece like this in your portfolio, but it's not the best for a first-impression illustration.)

-Conveying strong emotions is extremely important.  If your piece can make an agent laugh or tug at the heartstrings of an art director, that is a VERY good thing!

-Be sure to show off your uniqueness!  That may be your creative use of medium or color, a creative twist on a common subject matter, or anything at all that makes you a one-of-a-kind illustrator!

After discussing how to apply some of these tips to group members' WIP postcards, we parted with the goal to improve our illustrations and make them the very best that they can be!  :)

If you want to learn more about COSCBWI, you can check out the group website at  www.coscbwi.org or like us on Facebook.  The next Illustrator Meeting will be June 12 with the goal for members to bring close-to-completion postcard pieces.  I hope to see you then!

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