Wednesday, June 15, 2011

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Exclusive: David Small

This February, Winter Conference-goers were saddened to hear that David Small wouldn't be able to attend. Being bold, I'll speak for SCBWI (and surely future Los Angeles attendees!) that we are thrilled he'll be coming to the Summer Conference. Plus, David speaking in LA means we'll get to see him in his jammies on Saturday.

Holy wow, look at this slideshow of books David has illustrated:

Not only those he's authored, like NBA finalist STITCHES, but those with the incredible Sarah Stewart. His co-creator list basically reads as a Who's Who of Children's Literature.

David was kind enough to answer a couple questions and send us a groovy photo of his studio (tell me that's not the best place to hang an NBA medal.)

Jaime: Hiya, David. Can you give potential Illustrator Intensive attendees a hint of what your live demo will be about?

David:  I'll be stressing what I think is most important: knowing anatomy, drawing with an expressive line, and drawing fast.

J: That sounds fantastic. On the topic of expressive line, who's your favorite illustrator in history?

D: In books, Ernest Shepard. In Editorial: Heinrich Kley.

J: Ernest Shepard is amazing. I've never heard of Heinrich Kley, so nice to meet a new (old) illustrator, and wildly interesting. Who is one of your favorite up-and-coming illustrators?

D: L’Uyen Pham.

J: My favorite of L'Uyen's might be GRACE FOR PRESIDENT, but I'm also excited by her work in graphic novels. Illustrators, be sure to check out her fun new site and blog. How about favorite art tool? Again, to be clear, not an art tool like Peter Brown, but a favorite brand of pencil, paper, etc.?

D: Pocket Brush Pen by Tombo.

J: Awesome! And correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you use that on some of your incredible travel sketches. Favorite working snack?

D: Tangerines.

J: Like chocolate oranges?

D: ...

J: Oh, REAL FRUIT? I will have to check these "tangerines" out. One last question, David, and thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to chat with us pre-conference. What's the one thing you do every day that makes you a better artist?

D: I try to complete at least one drawing (of anything) every day, to justify my existence on this earth.

Thank you, David!!! Friends, see David in action at the 40th Anniversary SCBWI Summer Conference. And illustrators, if you haven't signed up for the Intensive yet, you can and should.

Here's that studio pic:

Monday, June 13, 2011

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Exclusive: Marla Frazee

It is 53 days until the 40th Annual SCBWI SUMMER CONFERENCE! And I have the crazy honor of doing some Q&A with a few of the faculty members.

Marla Frazee's class at Portland State's Haystack Conference changed my illustrating life. And I know I'm one of a bunch that can say that about her and her classes. Whether at Haystack, Art Center College of Design, or SCBWI shindigs, if you are lucky enough to get a critique from Marla, you should know you are going to get some terrifically good advice. Advice that will stick with you forever, and most likely move your career to a new level.

To repeat: (You + Marla) x (Time Together) = Awesome. And because SCBWI International has invited her to be one of the seven illustrators doing live demos at the Illustrators' Intensive (which you can still sign up for!), we can now make this equation:

(You + Marla x Time Together) x (Watching Marla Make An Illustration) = Awesome Infinity3

A few questions with Marla below:

Jaime: Hi Marla! Can you give us a hint of what you'll be doing for the demo?

Marla: I couldn't complete a finished illustration without the foundation this particular process provides, so here's what I'll be demonstrating – first, I do the drawing on paper. Then I soak the drawing and staple it to a board. When the drawing is dry, I build the color up with multiple washes – sometimes as many as 50 to 100, which takes forever. I'll have to do this in stages, otherwise it would take a week or more to show it in real time. And that would be extremely weird for anyone to watch.

J: WE WOULD TOTALLY WATCH. But we understand time constraints. And the perils of eating X Bar food for too long. Who is your favorite illustrator in history?

M: This changes for me constantly. But Robert McCloskey is always in the top five.

J: Oh, nice! Here is a link to an archive of Anita Silvey interviewing him for The Horn Book. How about favorite working snack? I know I've asked this before, and you said CHEEZ-ITS...

M: If I'm honest, it's coffee. As much as I like CHEEZ-ITS, they are pretty greasy and eating them while I'm working would seriously mess up the work.

J: Favorite tool? Not, like, Jon Scieszka, but, like, favorite brush or pencil brand?

M: I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't work on Strathmore 500 series hot press 2 ply paper.

J: Readers, don't forget to explore Marla's kickass site, full to the web gillls with fantastic info. Final question: Marla, what do you do every day that makes you a better artist?

M: Worry that I'm crap.

Oh, that Marla. I'll bet a studio under an avocado tree that she's the only one who worries she could be crap. And speaking of studios under avocado trees, check out Marla's fab studio:

THANK YOU, MARLA! See you in L.A.!

Friday, June 10, 2011

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Exclusive: Details about the Illustrators' Intensive

 Hey friends,

Word on the street is you've never seen a live painting demo by a world-class illustrator. Or, maybe you've seen one, but have you seen SEVEN IN A ROW?

You will if you sign up for the Post-Conference Intensive for Illustrators at the 40th Anniversary SCBWI Summer Conference in LA this August.

And you still CAN sign up for this Intensive, but time is running out.

Some of the committee (L-R Priscilla Burris, Pat Cummings, and Cecilia Yung)
One thing I love about the SCBWI Int'l Illustrator Committee is that they are always having a ball. Always mixing it up—the Intensive this year is a new format. I asked Pat Cummings about the committee's decision to have seven of the world's best illustrators do live demos for attendees. And here's what the committee said:

The Illustration Committee of the Board usually begins planning programs no later than six months in advance. For this conference, we started even earlier.  We had gathered for the opening of The Golden Kite exhibit at the NCCIL Gallery in Texas last July and, surrounded by so much exquisite work, we all felt it would be fitting to have a wealth of top illustrators for the 40th Anniversary Conference.

The surveys we've collected after each Intensive repeatedly indicate a real curiosity about technique: How do the illustrators who present programs actually create the work they show?  So what better way, we thought, to celebrate SCBWI's 40th Anniversary than to invite top illustrators to demonstrate just that.  Show us how the magic happens.

Over the next few months we floated names, assessed techniques, refined our list, checked to see if speakers might fit into the larger schedule and by the Winter Conference, we were ready to begin inviting speakers.  Each illustrator invited is at the top of his/her game and each will present something dramatically different.  It will be an explosive, exciting, probably exhausting day but it will definitely be a memorable example of the scope of talent members will find at an SCBWI conference.
So hooray for this Intensive! The next few weeks I'll be posting some Q&As with a few of those demo-ers, I cannot wait for August.

But some good gnus

Don't think I blogged about it yet, but I have a kickass agent! His name is Stephen Barr. He's at Writers House. He has super powers, I'm not allowed to say what they are.

But truly: I hesitated to post about it a few months ago because Stephen is in the Witness Protection Program. Stephen is so smart and funny, he's being hunted by the world's best comedians—Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais. So the desire to share this good news has been tempered by the fact that I might be exposing him to a comic hit. And I want to keep Stephen around. So if you are friends with Jerry, etc., don't mention any of this, please.

I sent my signed agency agreement in this envelope:

And then he sent back a signed copy in this envelope:

So that's fun.

Ho-hum news

Oh, nuts. I'm sad to say the UW class has been canceled for this summer. Hopefully it will go on next summer. I am mostly sorry you'll miss Richard Jesse Watson's painting demo, and the smartest person I know, Martha Brockenbrough, talking about picture book writing.

You're in a bit of luck, though, both of them will be at SCBWI Int'l's 40th Annual Summer Conference. More about that here.

The books I recommend for beginning illustrators

If you had been planning on taking the class, I hope you'll still keep your Tuesday and Thursday nights set aside, devoted to picture book making. I am, and I'll be rereading those books mentioned above, plus a new one that I'm kinda gaga for. And not because the book includes a delicious pasta recipe. Not because of that at all.

Ivan Brunetti's CARTOONING. Structured so each chapter is a week of class. And all of the exercises strike me as fantastically invigorating. Like the city's early season outdoor pools, before they've had a chance to be ruined with heated water. Why heat water? How is that refreshing, I ask you?