This weekend I enjoyed volunteering at SCBWI LA's Art Directors Day aka Illustrator's Day.
In the six weeks leading up to the event, I had been diligently getting my portfolio ready......eh creating from scratch, for a critique. I was very happy with my "finished" book, but was eager to hear what the Art Directors and Cliff Cramp, my reviewer, had to say about portfolios in general and mine specifically. This year the faculty was going to pick six portfolio's to give a private review of. An enticing carrot for me.
Over the last year I struggled to feel really good about my work as an illustrator. I took a break. Did lots of experimenting and found a way to create illustrations that feel lively and allow me to play while keeping a consistency of character. The upcoming Art Directors Day was a great deadline for me and I was happy to hear a lot of the talks were about what should be in a portfolio.
I've always know the basics; kids, animals, character in a sequence, scenes with groups of kids, non fiction and black and white. But this time I heard a different message. It got me thinking differently about the work I've included. And the promotional mailers I'll be sending out this year.
Isabel Warren-Lynch, Executive Art Director at Random House, spoke about "tender moments" in children's book illustration. She stressed how important the subtlety of sweet scenes can convey much about friendship and character. She used E. E. Milne's, Pooh illustration and the great Garth Williams as examples of illustrators who are masters of this. Their work resonates with the viewer and we hold those illustrations in our hearts into adulthood, long after we've closed the book.
My reviewer, Cliff Cramp, http://www.cliffcramp.com/ teacher and speaker extraordinaire, gave me very good advice regarding color temperature and keeping the viewer's eye on the focal point of the illustration. This subtle difference in my work could take an illustration from "Oh," to "WOW!" He's so right. When we look at a great piece of art, we may not even recognize why it's amazing, but we'll keep staring at it, savoring it.
That is the work I'm striving to do. Illustration that is sweet and savory and will be remembered after the meal.....I mean after the cover is closed.