Question regarding SCBWI winter conference NY21 portfolio showcase



  • Hi, everyone
    This year, I finally got around to get myself a ticket to join the conference and portfolio showcase for the first time for SCBWI NY21 conference, only to find out...

    The format for the portfolio showcase has been completely changed. This is what they states on their website:
    "To differentiate the showcase from past illustration events, and keep it fresh for the art directors and agents visiting, this year’s format will be a three-image portfolio, with links to your SCBWI Illustrator Gallery and your personal website."

    I have read a bunch of blog posts about how to do a physical portfolio, and I read the blog post @Neha-Rawat on digital portfolio show case tips. I have always been planning to submit 10 - 12 pieces for the portfolio showcase. Does anyone has some thoughts on how to show your illustration skill, and storytelling ability in just 3 images?

    My brain hurts a bit... need the collective hive mind to think together on this.



  • @xin-li WHAT!?!? I cannot believe I missed this! I was planning for this the same way you were. Thank you so much for posting this, I need to collect myself and rethink this.

    When I looked through everyone's portfolios from the last time, when Neha won, I looked at the images on the showcase and did not click through. It's hard for me to think of it as a portfolio showcase when it's three images that need to convince the viewer to click through to my website, so I have to admit it's possible that this is not the right time for me to participate. My strategy has always been to mimic the in-person showcase for when that eventually happens again so have actually been focused on print as well, like you. I never considered using the SCBWI illustrator gallery and I'm not sure I want to???

    My strategies and plans may not be perfect, but I do need to be able to stick to them, and this means more work on my website needs to be entirely done, and I don't know if that will work.



  • @xin-li Oh yeah I remember reading this when the registrations opened up but my brain buried it somewhere because I was overwhelmed with deadlines at that time. I haven't registered for the event yet but was definitely planning on (and also planning my 12 image portfolio subconsciously) so thank you for bringing this up!

    I would assume it can go one of two ways.

    The first one is to have a 3 image narrative sequence. Similar to how SCBWI have their Narrative Art Award.
    Here are some of the past winners: https://www.scbwi.org/narrative-art-award-past-winners/

    My primary focus would be on:

    • storyline
    • character consistency
    • variation in mood/color palette/environment

    Other factors could include (depending on your strengths) eg. diversity, different aged characters, anthropomorphic animals, vehicles etc. This format does definitely narrow the scope a lot but it'll check an important box of narrative storytelling and character consistence which is difficult to show otherwise.

    The second way us to have 3 independent strong illustrations. A consensus feedback I received on my winning portfolio was that everyone really liked my illustration of the family gathered on the couch for a photograph because of it's humor, distinct character designs and interactions. Something on the lines of what the mentors talk about on having a multilevel storytelling.

    In this case the scope is so big that it can also get overwhelming. So narrow it down a little like having a book cover, double spread and spot/vignette illustration (or whatever works for you).

    Funnily, while I was writing this post, I was convinced to do a narrative sequence while I was typing out that paragraph. And as I got onto the next paragraph, I totally confused myself whether 3 independent pieces would work better for me and now I'm back on square one! πŸ˜…



  • @Neha-Rawat You are a natural comic artist. Haha... I look forward to see a graphic novel with your name on.

    I am still a bit overwhelmed by deadlines at this moment. I also mixed up the deadlines - somehow I always thought the deadline would be around mid Feb. But the deadline is 1st, Feb. I guess there is time to refine the SCBWI illustrator gallery, and my own website after the submission deadline.

    The dramatic format change for the portfolio showcase just shocked me a bit. But now reading your comments, and think about it for the second time, It might not be as bad as I thought. I only get a bit more than week to prepare after my big deadline is over by mid January. I might just look into my portfolio, and pick out 3 strongest images, and rework a tad, and call it done. I will keep your tips in mind when doing the selection.

    @carolinebautista thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think mimicking the in-person showcase was a good one if they have not changed the format. But I wonder maybe we can still implement some of the thinking into how we organise the SCBWI gallery and our website. I have not started using SCBWI gallery actively as well. But I think I will - what I do would be uploading all images I selected for my website into the SCBWI gallery.


  • Pro

    @carolinebautista Well, that changes things :o And apparently according to Xin the deadline is February 1st too!



  • @xin-li - you have a bit more time actually, since this page lists the date the judges will view the pieces as February 15, so I'm counting my deadline as February 14.

    Your plan sounds pretty good to me. I would probably do the same, but my portfolio pieces are not ready yet, so instead I will try to finish three by the deadline and get the rest up on my own website after.



  • @carolinebautista You are right. I think I read somewhere the deadline for submitting the 3 images in in 1st Feb(you can not change the images once you have uploaded them. But you can of course work on your SCBWI Illustrator Gallery and your personal website between 1st Feb and 15th Feb :-).

    Be sure the double check the date :-)!



  • @xin-li I just signed up for the portfolio showcase several days ago, using the new chat feature on Scbwi for help as I had inadvertently not added that to my registration. I asked when the the deadline was to submit art and she said February 15th. Which is a little odd because judges view on the 15th now that I think about it. And the website page that is specifically about the portfolio consult, says that
    β€˜ Our panel of industry judges will view your images on Feburary 15 so make sure your images are uploaded by then.’
    But they say to make sure to email with any questions about uploading by February 1st.
    So I’m a little confused lol πŸ˜‚
    Maybe we should contact them again to clarify.
    The chat feature worked REALLY well. I had emailed them four times in December without a response and chat was an instant response in real time πŸ™‚



  • @Coley thank you so much. Now I checked the deadline for uploading images again. It says 15th Feb. So we got about 2 weeks more πŸ™‚

    I always felt something is off with SCBWI virtual communication. I think they just under-staffed or something. Their website and social media info are not always updated.



  • @xin-li I agree. They do a fantastic job on their media and publications but responses aren't good at all. But that chat feature is new and worked amazingly well! That's the way to go when trying to communicate with them I think πŸ™‚



  • Cool @xin-li! I’m jumping in on the SVS SCBWI Train!



  • @Coley the chat feature finally worked! Just had to clear my browser history and the help button turned into a chat button, yay!

    The judges are not going to be looking at the images until the team preps everything, so they will see the images around the 17th or 18th, not the 15th the way they said. So my deadline is back to the 15th! I spent the morning confirming that I had an extra day. 😁

    The really nice person I chatted with said that all the images can be changed until the deadline, on both the showcase and the gallery, so that was reassuring. I'm not going to risk testing this with the showcase, though, because the warning there that those images are a final submittal is still a bit intimidating to me. She said she would take another look at the wording because it wasn't meant to be that much pressure. So I will upload a few images to the gallery to test things out instead, which she recommended.

    The chat just had me wishing I could attend an in person conference. Looking forward to that someday πŸ™‚



  • @carolinebautista thank you so much for sharing. It save a lot of us time figure out the exact information.

    I would love love love to go to the conference in person once. But it has been way too expensive for me to go to New York or LA for that (being living in Norway). I will keep applying art travel stipend once the world is back to normal again. πŸ™‚



  • @carolinebautista oooh thanks for sharing! More clarification, yay! And I'm super happy we have until then 😊.
    It would be awesome to attend in person someday when we return to normal!



  • @carolinebautista bet, I have uploaded to the gallery before and also deleted things. But they didn’t allow anything added or deleted during the showcase last year once the event started. You need to consider file names when uploading. The little box where you check to have it be your gallery picture or whatever, doesn’t work reliable for me. I did. Or ice that they were sorted by file name, I think for example if it had a β€œ1” at the beginning of the file was showing up first in the gallery. I didn’t realize that until later so I didn’t go back and change it. I probably will try to sort it out before the showcase. You would want a strong image next to your name. I haven’t done it in a while so I might not be making sense. I’ll try to take a look soon to refresh my memory and then pass it along.



  • @Coley My word. They are really using an ancient website, where things just does not work on human level.
    Thank you for sharing the work-around for sorting images. I think it is really important to have the right flow of your portfolio, so which image comes first is really important.



  • @xin-li no problem! It's good to share and help each other out 😊. Good luck with getting everything set up!



  • @xin-li sure, I feel like this is the only way it might work out ok for me, and i'm very lucky you started this conversation. It's kind of frustrating to think that if I would have gone by the info in the chat I could have uploaded test images to the showcase that were half finished. 😱 With what @Coley described (THANK YOU!) and some tests in the gallery next week I can use this conference as a time to get organized and appreciate how important it is to meet people (I am a bit shy, and librarian conferences were tough for me even though I enjoyed them). For now, you both saved me so much frustration!

    The Los Angeles conference is close by, but the one I would love to go to is the Frankfurt one! Someday maybe I can save up and go there.



  • @carolinebautista I understand that conference is tough. Too much going on, too many people. I am also shy in fornt of strangers. But I have been really enjoying the SVSLearn forum. I have been here long enough, and I do not feel shy anymore, hehe.

    It is always easier to have someone you know to go to the conference together. I went to a couple indie comic festival way before I became illustrator myself. I went with a comic artist friend. It was just fun, and holiday feeling. But I guess going to kidlit conference is more like work for me. Frankfurt is the closest one for me. If you ever make it to Frankfurt, let me know. When the world back to normal again, I do wish to travel to book fairs and conferences.



  • @carolinebautista and @xin-li I'm super, super shy too... In person... but I feel very comfortable online. I like writing my words but have a lot of trouble speaking them 😬. I'm the quietest one in every group. I kind of wish I wasn't but that's the way I am I guess. I'm jealous of the loud and funny ones πŸ˜‚.
    thanks da bajeezers for online forums and conferences 🀣. Anyhow I hear you and understand you πŸ˜‰


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