Rebecca has come to our conference for a few years now and we noticed she got hired by a few of our visiting art directors. We interviewed here to find out what she likes about the conference and how it’s helped her career!
Why did you come to the conference?
The first time I came to SCBWI I had just graduated from a BFA program and was hoping for some guidance on bridging the gap between being a student and a professional. The advice from guest speakers and the portfolio review with local publishers really helped me get my start. Since then, I’ve loved coming back each year to hear new speakers and meet other artists and art directors in the area.
What did you hope to get out of it?
Each year I hope to get new work or a new client out of the conference. Even if that doesn’t always happen, I also look forward to the valuable advice from guest speakers. SCBWI invites fantastic ones each year and I always come away with new perspectives, tips, unexpected ideas, and helpful advice. I feel reenergized after the conference is over and inspired to do and be better.
What did you do to prepare for the conference? Specifically, what did you do for your portfolio?
Aside from bringing a notepad or sketchbook to take notes in, most of my preparation is putting together a portfolio. I review it each year in the week or so before coming, updating it with my strongest work. I also try to limit the number of pieces to about ten and make sure that the portfolio reflects the kind of work I want to get. I have friends look over it with me before coming to make sure it flows well as you flip through it and that each piece belongs there. It’s hard to cut stuff, but I think having a heavily curated and smaller portfolio works better than trying to include every project. I also make sure that the first and last pages (the pages the portfolio is most likely to be left open to) feature my strongest pieces.
Why would you recommend the conference to other illustrators?
The SCBWI conference is the perfect size, especially for me. It makes it easier to meet other artists in the area (which is helpful – I spend most of my time working from home and in my own little bubble). The smaller setting helps it from getting overwhelming. It’s easier to engage with the guest speakers than at larger conferences like ICON and there are plenty of opportunities to meet and greet the visiting art directors. It’s an amazing value for the price and one of my favorite conferences each year.
How did the conference lead you to get illustration work?
The portfolio show they do each year has been extremely helpful. It has connected me with several clients who saw my portfolio at the conference and later contacted me for work. Beyond getting my portfolio in front of new art directors, I also get to reconnect with old clients who come back from year to year in a more direct way than an email or a mailer. It’s helpful for building up repeat clients.
March 3, 2018 at the Sons of the Utah Pioneers Building, 3301 East 2920 South,. Salt Lake City, Utah
8:30 – 9:00 dried bread and water, networking, set up portfolios ($5.00 for portfolio display see details below) and grab a seat
9:00 – Welcome and announcements
9:15 – Richard Erickson: Helping You Be Successful Telling Stories Through Art Direction
10:15 – Brandon Dorman: Give Your Stars a Hand; 5 things you can do to help your stars align as an illustrator
11:15 – Breakout Sessions
Shawna J.C. Tenney: The Art of the Picture Book Dummy
Manelle Oliphant: What Should I Post On Social Media?
12:15 – Lunch: a hot bowl of soup and water (local art directors check out portfolios and have a bowl of soup)
1:15 – First Look Critique: Brandon Dorman, Richard Erickson, Shawna JC Tenney, and Manelle Oliphant
2:15 – Networking with Illustrator to Illustrator
2:45 – 3:30 Panel: Your Questions Answered by Brandon Dorman, Richard Erickson, Shawna JC Tenney, and Manelle Oliphant
Richard Erickson will be doing a limited number of individual 10-minute portfolio reviews. The fee is $45.00. Register before spaces fill up.
We hope you plan to participate in the portfolio display. All artists are welcome.
Register early or bring $5.00 the day of the conference. Local art directors and Richard Erickson from Shadow Mountain will view the portfolios. You need to be registered for the conference to participate in the Portfolio Display.
(Portfolios that do not meet these guidelines will not be accepted.)
Portfolios should be no larger than 11 x 14.
They must be bound (no loose pages).
15 images max.
No original paintings or drawings (use printouts instead).
One set of contact information cards such as postcard or business card can sit with your portfolio.
No digital portfolios.
You can display one or two book dummies to the portfolio attached with a string.
If you have published books they can be displayed on our published books table. But not with the portfolios.
Notify Manelle Oliphant at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Richard Erickson has been the Senior Art Director for Deseret Book/Shadow Mountain Publishing for over 25 years. He graduated from the University of Utah in Graphic Design and Illustration. He was awarded the Society of Illustrators Gold Award for Art Direction and has received other honorary awards for his art direction. He loves reading and collecting old and new books. Richard art directed the New York Times Bestselling Fablehaven Series for Shadow Mountain. He loves traveling to far away places with his true love, Diane. He has three children and seven grandchildren and loves reading picture books to all of them.
Brandon grew up near Tacoma, WA and is the dad of three smiley boys and one frilly girl.
He began his art career in the 4th grade doing Halloween window paintings for his neighbors. Since then, he hasn’t stopped drawing dragons and painting pirates.
Brandon graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho in 2005 with a BFA in Fine Art and Illustration.
He is best known for his book cover artwork on popular series like Goosebumps, Fablehaven, and The Land of Stories. With over 22 picture books under his belt, he is an accomplished visual storyteller. Hoolie and the Hooligans; The Alien who Ate My Socks, is Brandon’s first middle-grade chapter book, for which he is both author and illustrator.
He likes to eat string cheese and play flag football and is a huge Seattle Seahawks fan. He’s lived for two years in the Philippines and once licked a slug. He loves making magical pictures and hopes to be illustrating for a long time to come.
Shawna has always enjoyed a vivid imagination. In elementary school, the teachers were worried about her head always being in the clouds. Now many years later, she enjoys using that power of imagination to write and illustrate whimsical stories. Shawna has been a freelance illustrator for over 12 years. Her work has appeared in picture books, readers, chapter books, magazines, and games. Her true passion is writing and illustrating her own stories, and her first book as author and illustrator, Brunhilda’s Backwards Day was published in 2016.
Manelle’s love of stories, like many of yours, began with the books and movies she enjoyed as a child. It was a happy day when her mom finally let her get her own library card. (Then she accidentally ran it through the washing machine, but that’s another story.) Her love of stories had only grown as she found ways to create her own stories through illustration and writing. She received a bachelor’s degree in illustration from BYU-Idaho and since then has illustrated many children’s books. Her most recent book “In The Snow” received a Kirkus starred review, “The illustrations and their subject matter have a beauty, realism, and simplicity that evoke another era and will surely make caregivers nostalgic for the pleasures of their youths.”
She lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and two cats named after the weather.