My entry...for now
Hello! My name is Nat, I’m a project art director at a virtual reality studio in Amsterdam by day and an illustrator by night. Originally from Portland, OR, I moved to the Netherlands in 2017 with my wife and 3 boys where we now cycle everyday, eat lots of bread and try to speak Dutch.
I’m a long time member of the forum and SVS really helped me to break into publishing. I have illustrated 4 children’s books, 2 of which came out in 2019, and 1 YA chapter book. I’m represented by the fabulous Jennifer March Soloway at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
An illustration I'm working on for my local SCBWI. Will go on a portion of the newsletter. The illustration director asked me to do it and gave a description of what she wanted. Several of you chimed in with feedback on the sketch a few weeks ago. Thanks!
Hey guys, I've been waiting until I had the signed contract in hand to say anything, so I'm very pleased to announced that I am now officially represented by Andrea Brown Literary Agency with Jennifer March Soloway!
She's a new agent, though she has worked for the agency for 3 years, and has been amazing to work! I submitted my recent book dummy to Andrea Brown alongside 2 other agencies, and am so glad that they wrote me back. The plan so far is to take the book out to editors next month.
To make the book dummy I watched (and re-watched) Will and Jake's course on illustrating children's books, have been active in the SVS forums, attended a SCBWI conference (where I met with some fellow SVS classmates) and did a class with Giuseppe Castellano an art director at Penguin. I've submitted to and been turned down by Andrea Brown Lit twice in the past, so third time's a charm. Thank you all for the support and community I've found here!
Hey everyone, I thought I'd do a quick debrief of my first experience at an SCBWI conference. I'm sure many of you, like myself a week ago, are unsure what to expect from attending one of these, and would like to know what it's like and if it's worth the time and money.
When I was deciding whether or not to go to the spring conference (Oregon and Western Washington), a lot of it came down to not knowing what to expect and trying to get my head around the posted schedule and kind of confusing website. I didn't know what 'illustrator homework' or 'round tables' or 'paid for portfolio reviews' were, and most of them were full anyway since the conference was only 2 weeks away. But, I decided if I was going to do this I was going all in. I bought membership, registered for the conference and entered the juried art contest.
To prepare for the conference I read a lot of articles on the subject and had a few things I needed to get in order. First and foremost, I've never printed a portfolio before! Working digitally, even when I've done books, I never have to print anything. After trying to decide whether or not to spend $15 per print at some fancy art shop, I opted to go to Kinkos and see how things turned out.
PRINTING TIP! If you go the Kinkos route, don't use the self service machines. They aren't as good as what's behind the counter (even though I was initially told they were) and don't have the options. My first attempts at these machines were fuzzy and low quality. After asking at the counter, they said that converting my files from JPGs to PDFs would up the resolution (which they then did for me), and their big printer was better, AND we put it on 30lb laser paper. The results were waaay better, and good enough for me to just use these. They were like $1.20 for an 11"x17" full color page, so not too shabby.
Also, I bought a standard 14"x11" portfolio, nothing fancy, but it was a ring binder type (the small ones) with plastic sleeves. This made it super easy to arrange and rearrange (and rearrange x10) my work.
I used moo.com to order business cards. Moo allows you to to design as many card backs as you want for no additional cost, so I ended up putting most of my portfolio pieces on the backs of the cards. This turned out great because people that liked certain pieces could take a card with that same artwork on it and remember both me and what they liked.
Lastly, I read and researched the faculty to know who was who, though they did all introduce themselves.
I was really excited and nervous on the first day of the conference. But despite all of the classes and options I had not opted into, it was awesome! Besides the personal one and one critiques, any of the classes requiring homework or dummy reviews could be attended as an observer. Like watching the 3rd Thursday critiques, this was one of my favorite things because I always learn so much.
It was so great at meal times, before (come early to mingle) and after the conference to get to know some other writers and illustrators. Everyone was so nice and eager to learn and connect with others. We heard published authors and illustrators speak, agents, and for me one of the highlights of the event was having the Creative Director for all of Random House children's books Martha Rago, there. Wow! What an amazing person to have attend! I also really connected with one of the local author/illustrator speakers, and we are going to stay in touch and get coffee soon.
I also have to mention that I go to meet @bharris and @Katrina-Fowler in person! We hung out, and it was so cool to have SVS people to sit with. We even did some evangelizing for the forums and SVS Learn!
The Juried Art Show
This was probably what I was most nervous about. I've never entered an art show/competition, ever. But after doing so, I would highly recommend it! Even if you don't win, it is a point of reference to let everyone there connect with your work. The agents, editors and creative directors there all looked through (some judged) the art show, and if they liked your work, they told you and/or took a card.
As it turned out, I won 2nd place! This will put me on my SCBWI region's webpage for a year with a little bio, and I got $30 to Blicks Art Supply First place won an unsolicited submission directly to Martha Rago, so I was bummed I didn't have that opportunity, BUT...
BUT at the end of the conference as everyone was leaving I decided I needed to talk to Martha and at least say thank you for coming all the way from NYC to share. I approached her and much to my surprise she said "Oh, I was going to email you. I saw one of your pieces in the art show and I think you may be a good fit for a book we need an illustrator for." I was really caught off guard and so jazzed that I now have the opportunity to submit work to Random House directly. Now the pressure's on
There's certainly no guarantee that I'll get work from the conference, and I did not go in with that expectation so if it doesn't happen, that's ok. I did go in with the expectation that I would learn a lot, make good connections and meet amazing people. I was not disappointed! I would highly recommend attending a conference in your area. My wife and I actually just realized we will be in LA for the conference this summer coincidentally, so we may attend that one too!
Just thought I'd share this since it's finally out. This was an interesting project, only 6 weeks (over xmas) total while trying to emulate the style of the other illustrator in the series. I had base sketches provided by the art director at Green Toys, plus feedback from the art director at the publisher. A learning experience for sure, but it did pay well:
Just watched Will's latest video and the Neil Gaiman speech he recommended in it and felt inspired to make some art, my art! This is a sketch from a book idea I've had for a long time, so it felt good to take one of the thumbnails and flush it out.
Did some sketches/paintings for fun over the last few days. I was focusing on developing a technique/process that is easy to do for me, keeping the initial sketch "alive" during the process, and playing with some lighting. So far it's felt great and easier with each painting.
Victor from The Returned and Alice fighting her way out of Wonderland under him. Other two just random for fun.
Thought I'd share some pages form a book I illustrated a few months ago and is being release in July.
It was an interesting situation where a toy company, Green Toys, went through a traditional publisher, Cameron + Company, who then hired me at flat rate.
The CRAZY part about this project was that it was a full 32 page picture book done in 6 weeks...over Christmas. Anyway, not my characters (based on toys) or my style really but a great learning experience!
Hey, really nice work on this! Love the big chunky design, definitely looks like a vehicle that could support a moving hospital. There are a couple of things that I think could improve the design:
-Symmetry - there's a lot of centered, symmetrical elements on this (the front, the angled protrusion on the side has equal sides, the centered cockpit and building section). I think it could look more interesting by offsetting some features or breaking things into thirds. For example, what if the grill was at the top/lower third of the front, or if the cockpit was off to one side?
-Human Scale Elements - Having the humans in here for reference works, but adding some human scale elements to the vehicle will emphasize it's gigantic scale! I work as an art director in the video game industry, so this is something we come up against quite often. Using things like railing, stairs, ladders, handles, windows or recognizable tools like a fire extinguisher or shovel will immediately tell the viewer how big this unknown object is in relation to a known object, even if there is no human shown in the image.
Here's a great reference, which I'm sure you've seen before:
Hi @burvantill! Wow this is quite a complex illustration in terms of perspective, composition and just the amount of things going on! On my lunch break I started to playing with some values and just ended with a values pass using your great linework, I hope you don't mind! My approach to an illustration like this would be as follows, and again sorry if I got carried away, but I was having fun
1.) I try to identify at least 3 distinct depth layers (foreground, mid ground, background) a block in some base values:
2.) Experiment with some basic lighting that brings focus the main subjects of the illustration:
3.) I usually do a balancing pass using the gradient tool in PS, where I can add a bit of extra light or dark the further push the eye towards where I want it to go:
I know you didn't ask, but I hope this is helpful, looking forward to seeing it progress!
Hi, this is coming along nicely! I think the blue works best because it's a nicer contrast against the pinkish cabinet, floor and cat/bin colors which are all warmer. I think the green is too close and begins to clash with the yellow and red tones in the rest of the scene. Cheers!