Introducing Brooke Smart

Brooke Smart has come to our conferences and gone to some of the bigger national ones. We asked her about her experiences with both kinds of conferences. She is a delight to talk to and has some pretty cool experiences.

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1. Why illustration? How long have you been working as an illustrator?

I have been drawing and painting since I was a small child and have always known I wanted to do something with art, but it wasn’t until college that I discovered a love of storytelling as well. It was definitely lucky that I ended up at BYU with the incredible professors that I had there in the illustration department. They taught me how to combine those two interests into one and to make a career of it. I took a detour from illustration for about five years after school, pursuing a career in fine art, but have been focusing all of my energies toward illustration for the last four years. I love the world that I’ve stumbled into: the projects, the community, the interesting facts I get to learn, the stories I get to tell. I’ve never worked so hard in all my life, but I know it’s what i’m meant to be doing.

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2. You’ve gone to a few different SCBWI conferences. What are some of the benefits of going to a national conference? What are some of the benefits of going to our local conference?

Both are great!

The national conferences are awesome because of the locations. You’re able to show your work to hundreds of art directors and agents from big publishing houses and top agencies. They also last two or three days, with lectures and workshops from pretty amazing people. It’s also great to connect with other artists from around the world. Community is so important when you spend most of your time working alone in your studio.
Our local conference also has its perks, though. It’s a day of reconnecting with some of the same people each year, listening to an illustrator or two who is working in the field, making it happen, and being able to ask them anything you want (Wow!). And there is also usually an art director that comes and gives that perspective on the business, which is so helpful. And no travel!
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3. You received an honor/award at the New York conference. Can you tell us a little about that?

It was definitely unexpected. It was my first NY conference and it was intimidating to be there amongst so many talented artists. Receiving the award was something that helped me to continue on the path of freelance illustration. So much of being an illustrator is being brave enough to jump into the unknown and hope that there is a place for your voice, or jumping in and convincing people that there is a place for your voice. I’m grateful for that moment of encouragement from people that I admire so much.


4. What made you decide to come to the Utah/Southern Idaho conference last year?

That is always an easy decision. It is somewhere where I always learn something new, get insight into things I’m doing right or wrong, and somewhere that I can connect with amazing illustrators that live close by.

5. What did you hope to get out of the conference? Did it help you get any illustration jobs?
With every conference, I hope to learn how to do what I do better, illustration-wise, business-wise, etc. But I also hope to make connections with art directors that will give me new, exciting projects. Last year was great and I got to meet with an art director from Peachtree Publishing and show her my work. She ended up contacting me a month or two later and hiring me to do a book cover. Yay!


6. Would you recommend going to others? 

Absolutely, I’d definitely recommend it! Come!


Illustrators Interview Series

Over the next few months we will be posting an interview a month that we had with some of the attendants of out Illustrators Conference. Get to know a few of our local illustrators and find out what the conference means for them.



What made you want to be an artist? And how long have you been pursuing illustration?

I’ve always wanted to be an artist of some sort. Illustration was a way to appease both my love of painting and telling stories. I’m still a little surprised that I can actually make a living out of doing something so enjoyable to me! I’ve only been seriously pursuing illustration for a couple of years so I’m still very much a novice.


Why did you come to the Illustration Conference?

I went to the conference as a way to put myself out there. People always say that networking with other artists is one of the best things you can do so I’m trying to follow that advice, even if my shyness sometimes makes it difficult!

What did you hope to get out of the conference? 

I was hoping to learn some solid, practical advice about how to approach publishers or agents. It was my first ever conference so I didn’t know what to expect. Mostly I was going as a silent observer so I could absorb and know what to prepare for with future conferences.


What did you do to prepare for the conference?

I made sure I had postcards with my artwork and contact info. I also brought a few copies of books I’d worked on in the past as well as a bound portfolio of my more recent work.


Would you recommend the conference to others?

I would! The conference was a lot more intimate than I thought it would be so any newcomers shouldn’t feel intimidated. Just make sure to put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people.

check out her website here you can follow her on Instagram and twitter @nanlikesbooks

For more information on this coming conference click here.

To regester for the conference click here.